Small groups are very important to the health of any church. They are places for individuals to grow in their faith and to build relationships with others. One important aspect of any small group should be prayer, but many small group leaders share their concern that prayer time sometimes becomes stale.
Here are some different ideas that might help you to engage your group more fully in prayer:
Instead of taking prayer requests and then praying together, have your small group get into pairs or triplets and give them 5-7 minutes to pray together. This helps build relationships and may encourage people to pray out loud in a smaller setting.
Have blank index cards available and ask people as they arrive to write down a prayer request to share and place it in a basket. During the prayer time, pass the basket and ask people to pray a brief prayer for the request on their card.
As small group participants arrive, give them a blank index card to write a personal prayer request on it and then include their name and contact information. As you conclude your regular prayer time, have each person pass their card to the person on their right and ask everyone to commit to pray for person and their request during the week. Encourage group members to contact the person and spend a few moments praying with that person and encouraging them to build a deeper relationship through their prayer time together. (Optional: if you have a mixed group, you may ask men to write their prayer request on white cards and ladies to write their prayer request on a yellow card and then pass a basket and ask the men to choose a white card and women to choose a yellow card.)
Before small group starts, secure “praying for you” cards. Write names and addresses on the envelopes and then use these cards for prayer and also for your group to sign and write encouraging messages.
Set aside one night during your group time to pray for your city or local community. Before your small group, get a list of city/local leaders you can pray for. If someone in your group knows of specific needs, include those in your prayer time. Be sure to say each name aloud. Ask God to help your town’s leadership and put His hand on the leaders in your town, in all of the various roles. Also pray that God will put His hand on those who are making decisions for the town, and pray that they will make decisions that honor Him.
Plan a special small group time to do a prayer walk in the neighborhoods around your church. Prepare for this by doing a special study on prayer and then mobilizing to go!
Whatever you choose, make sure to continue the emphasize the importance of prayer both individually and in community.
Sandy Coelho serves as lay leadership development coordinator at the Baptist Convention of New England.