The phrases “deep prayers” and “small groups” unfortunately rarely go together. It’s just not something you hear all that often. I spent several years working specifically with small groups; organizing, training, recruiting, and so forth. I love small groups. In a small group I’ve been a part of some great Bible studies, seen genuine community and served alongside friends. I can share some great stories. Regrettably, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a single person speak at all about the dynamic prayer-life of their small group.
It’s just the way it happens. We finish a Bible study and the group leader asks for prayer requests. That’s what we’ve always done. Someone asks for prayers for a job concern. Someone else’s neighbor is dreadfully ill. Now don’t get me wrong, these are important. Scripture tells us to bring our cares, fears, and requests to God in prayer. That being said, when I read prayers in Scripture I am reminded prayer is more.
There isn’t anything easy about prayer. It’s something best learned through practice. Here are a couple thoughts that might help:
- Be intentional. Deep prayer experiences simply will not happen accidentally. If we want our groups to grow in depth of prayer, we will have to lead differently. Rather, than simply ask for prayer requests, why not try something different?
- Let your study guide the group’s prayer. Ask questions. What truths about God have been revealed? Praise him in prayer for these. Are there commands to be followed? Ask him for strength and opportunities to obey his Word. Are there sins that need confessed? Let the text provide the direction of the prayer.
- Challenge each other. Let me give you an example: I can remember several times asking for prayers concerning my busy schedule. With compassion, my friends earnestly brought my request to God. Looking back, I can’t help but to wonder if a little inquisition might have been in order. What made my schedule so tight? Was I over-committing myself and my family? Perhaps a prayer for wisdom was more appropriate. In my case a little questioning might have added depth to the group, time for my family, and accuracy to our prayers.
These are just a few thoughts. Like I mentioned earlier, prayer isn’t necessarily easy. It’s something best learned through practice. And, we have to admit that old habits are difficult to break. With some intentionality our small groups can move into the deeper waters of prayer.