Nehemiah’s Guide to group prayer

Nehemiah’s Guide to group prayer

Has the prayer time in your small group become a routine recital of wish lists by each member? Breaking out of this rut is a challenge for any group leader. The trick is to turn the focus from your desires to God's. A brief look at Nehemiah 1:5-11 shows four steps that can help your group focus its prayers.

1. Focus on who God is and what He has done for you (vv. 5-6). When Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem were destroyed, his prayers focused on who God is, not on the problems at hand. He called God awesome, the One who keeps His covenant of love. He reminded God that He listens to His servants' prayers. Your group can begin by praising God for His wonderful creation, His gift of salvation, His love and mercy. Thank God for answered prayer and for specific blessings.

2. Focus on who you are before God (vv. 6-7). Nehemiah confesses for himself, his household, and for the entire nation of Israel. He says in verse 7 , "We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses." Sometimes we forget who God is and who is serving whom. We need to remember that we are His servants and that we have failed Him at times. As a group we can corporately confess for our families, our country, and ourselves.

3. Focus on what God says in His Word (vv. 8-9). In the same way Nehemiah quoted God's own words to Him, a portion of Scripture will often help focus your prayers. Ask group members to read passages that ministered to them during the week, or have verses ready that everyone can read together.

4. Focus on your petitions (vv. 10-11). God wants us to ask Him to meet our needs. Nehemiah doesn't give God a list or tell Him how to answer. Preparing to go before the king, he merely asks God to "give [His] servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."

After we focus on who God is, who we are before Him, and what His Word says, our prayer requests take on a new perspective. We pray more for the spiritual needs of our loved ones and ourselves, seeking God's heart in all things.

Adapted from "Nehemiah's Guide to Group Prayer," by Patricia Perry (Issue 123, M/J 2001). ©2001 Discipleship Journal. All rights reserved.