starting a prayer group
E-book: how to start and facilitate a prayer gathering
The most important factor in starting a prayer meeting is simply understanding the importance and power of prayer, especially united prayer with at least one other believer. Jesus said, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)
In James 4:2, we read, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” We need to pray! And we need to pray with faith and, ideally, with others who share our heart.
So, once you recognize the incredible power of prayer and sense that God is leading you to start a prayer group, you need to find at least one other person who shares your passion. Then you need to decide how often you will pray, where you will pray and how long you will pray.
When you have a relatively small group (2 to 6 or so) praying, you do not need to provide too much direction. But it is still helpful to begin each prayer session by sharing a scripture with perhaps a comment about how that scripture impacts your life. We are not talking about a lengthy sermon here, but just something to begin to point our hearts in God’s direction.
When the group is much larger, it is essential that you work to make the prayer time somewhat interesting. My friend Pastor Bill Elliff of the Summit Church in Little Rock, AR says there is nothing more boring than a poorly run prayer meeting. Again, I recommend you start by focusing minds and hearts on an appropriate scripture. There are so many places in the Bible that speak to our hearts. If you don’t know where to start, let me suggest Luke 11 or Luke 18 that deal very specifically with prayer. The Psalms is a book of prayer and can be a good place to start as well.
A few other principles to consider:
- Beware of spending all your time sharing prayer requests instead of praying.
- Start on time and end on time without being a total slave to the clock if God is moving particularly powerfully.
- Encourage people to pray as often as they like, but to pray shorter prayers rather than lengthy ones.
- Encourage people to listen to the prayer of the one who prayed before them and feel free to add more to that same subject rather than jump to a different subject.
- Encourage people to share a scripture that comes to their heart or by leading out in an appropriate song.
- Encourage people to pray sitting, kneeling, prostrate on the ground, or standing.
- Feel free to place a hand on the shoulder of the person you are praying for.
- Consider leading prayer by going through the acronym ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. For Adoration and/or Thanksgiving, encourage people to pray “popcorn” prayers: brief, one-sentence prayers like “Lord, I thank you for your incredible love.” “Lord, thank you for my family.” “Lord, praise you for forgiving our sins.” That engages lots of folks in prayer. Sometimes, for confession, you can have people pray silently for the things they need to confess to the Lord.
- Consider breaking up into smaller groups of 3 to 5 to pray for specific things like revival and also to pray for each other.
- Consider ending the prayer time while holding hands in a circle and reciting the Lord’s Prayer.