How to teach group members to pray

How to teach group members to pray

For many people, praying aloud can be threatening. Novices may feel so anxious that they will back out of the group. How do we enable people to move from the fear of praying aloud to enjoying God's presence and others' presence as they pray together? The following eight-week plan has proved effective:

Session One: As the leader, you open and close the meeting with prayer.

Session Two: Open in prayer. After the meeting, explain that you will close with a short time of thanks. Group members may offer a one-word prayer of thanks, or they may participate silently. Explain that people may pray as often as they wish, and times of silence are fine. You begin as follows: "Lord, we thank you for … (our families)." Close after a reasonable amount of time.

Session Three: Use the same procedure as in session two; however, in addition to thanksgiving, include one-word prayers of petition. Explain again that people may pray as often as they wish. Begin as before, and then introduce the petition: "Lord, we have needs. We are not all that we want to be and not all that you want us to be. Help us with . . . (patience)." Then close.

Session Four: Open the meeting with prayer, or in advance ask someone comfortable with praying aloud to pray. To end the meeting, introduce a new kind of prayer: Each member should obtain a prayer request from the person on his right. Then starting with you, each person should pray in turn. (Normally, avoid praying around a circle. But when each one has something specific to pray, this will help those who have not done so to pray aloud.) Your prayer should be short and simple as a model, and you should close.

Session Five: Proceed as you did in session four, but pair off people and have them give their prayer requests to one another. Ask them to pray for their partner every day during the coming week.

Session Six: Begin as in session five. Group the members into the same pairs, and give them time to share answers to their prayer requests. Explain that they have been reaming how to pray with one another, but that methods can become too mechanical. Prayer is talking with God. In a group, it can be a conversation with God. In conversations usually one or more topics may be discussed by several people; conversational prayer is similar. Ask the group for prayer requests and then begin. This may continue until you close as usual. Ask the group to share prayer requests in pairs and pray for these requests during the coming week.

Session Seven: Begin as usual and close with conversational prayer. Give time for prayer requests. Reiterate some main points from the study and recommend that these be included in the prayer topics. Pair off, share requests, and pray for them each day.

Session Eight: Repeat the previous session.

by Scott Koenigsaecker (Discipleship Journal, Issue 58, July/August 1990)