The following ideas may help you make small-group prayer time meaningful and powerful.
PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Ps. 100:4). “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. . . . O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker” (Ps. 95:2, 6). Starting your prayer time with thanksgiving and praise is a powerful and special experience. Mingle requests with praise and thanksgiving. Bible prayers by men such as Daniel, Elijah, and others always began with praise, thanksgiving, or confessing who God is. “We do not pray any too much, but we are too sparing of giving thanks. If the loving-kindness of God called forth more thanksgiving and praise, we would have far more power in prayer. We would abound more and more in the love of God and have more bestowed to praise Him for.”1 I encourage you to read Testimonies for the Church, volume 5, pages 315-317. It is so good!
“Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:21, 22). What a difference it makes to spend the first few minutes of your prayer time clearing the path for God to hear your prayers as a group. Allow God to impress your minds with any sin you need to confess. Make this a silent time when each
person does this individually. It would be helpful to read the booklet An Encounter with God in Prayer,2 by Juanita Kretschmar. On page 36 in this booklet you will find step-by-step directions for leading the group through a time of confession. This has been a powerful experience in my life, and I believe it can be in yours too.
TWOS OR THREES
It is nice to have more people, but you only need two or three. “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:19, 20). “Our Savior follows His lessons of instruction with a promise that if two or three should be united in asking anything of God it should be given them. Christ here shows that there must be union with others, even in our desires for a given object. Great importance is attached to the united prayer, the union of purpose.”3
ONCE A WEEK
Be sure and meet regularly. Meet once a week if possible. It is best to meet in person, but if this is impossible, pray together on the telephone.
Instead of having each person pray a long prayer, ask each person to pray only two or three sentences at a time. It makes it much easier to listen, and you give the Holy Spirit time to impress each of you with what He wants you to pray. Also, someone may want to pray a verse of scripture or start a song for the group to sing together during the prayer time. It is a beautiful experience! God loves for us to pray His word back to Him in expressions of praise or promises. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). You’ll be amazed at how long a group can pray and enjoy it.
Ask God to lead you to promises in His word that you can claim for the person or situation that is the subject of your prayer. We are told to put our finger on the promise and bring it before the Lord, thanking Him in advance for the answer according to His will. “He is pleased with the faith that takes Him at His word. The mother of Augustine prayed for her son’s conversion. She saw no evidence that the Spirit of God was impressing his heart, but she was not discouraged. She laid her finger upon the texts, presenting before God His own words, and pleaded as only a mother can. Her deep humiliation, her earnest importunities, her unwavering faith, prevailed, and the Lord gave her the desire of her heart. Today He is just as ready to listen to the petitions of His people. His ‘hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.’”4 Be sure and write down the promises He leads you to so you can remember to claim them in the future.
When someone prays a request to God, be sure some others pray for that same request and agree together; it is powerful! Don’t think that because one person has prayed the request, no one else needs to. “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 18:19). How encouraging it is to be lifted up in prayer.
Be sure to ask the Holy Spirit to show you how or what you should pray for in a person’s life or in a particular situation. Claim Romans 8:26: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
TAKING PRAYER REQUESTS
Don’t ask for prayer requests from the group; instead, tell people to pray their requests and encourage others to join in agreement and pray for those requests. Here’s why: time! Talking about the requests will take up most of your prayer group time. Satan is thrilled if he can keep us talking about the problem instead of praying about the problem. Group members will often begin counseling and suggesting solutions. The power is from God! The more we pray, the more His power is unleashed.
PRAYER REQUEST NOTEBOOK
Buy a stenographer’s notepad or use a spiral bound notebook. I would suggest drawing a line down the middle of the paper. Put the requests in the left column and the answers in the right. It is so exciting and faith-building to look back and see how God has answered your prayers.
YOUR DAILY TIME
This is so important! What is life all about if we are not spending time daily at the feet of Jesus, talking with Him and reading His word? If you will make God first priority in your life, it will open such a beautiful experience for you. “From the secret place of prayer came the power that shook the world in the Great Reformation. There, with holy calmness, the servants of the Lord set their feet upon the rock of His promises. . . . It is a part of God’s plan to grant us, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not bestow did we not thus ask.”5
Bible texts cited in this article are quoted from the King James Version (KJV).
1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, 5:317.
2 Kretschmar, Juanita, An Encounter with God in Prayer, can be ordered by contacting A Key Encounter, P.O. Box 177, Big Pine Key, FL 33043-0177; email: [email protected]; phone: 305 292-2070.
3 White, Testimonies for the Church, 3:429.
4 White, Testimonies for the Church, 5:322.
5 White, The Great Controversy, 210, 525.