Talking more about prayers, check out this example from Soloman in 1 Kings 3:7-14. David’s son had been appointed king and because of his lack of experience, age, etc., he felt overwhelmed by his circumstances. Now his circumstances aren’t our circumstances, but look at our prayer requests, and we all face different complications in life. But when facing these challenges, Soloman prayed for wisdom and discernment: not only deliverance from his trials. In other words he asked God to change me, not my circumstances. Certainly, there is purpose to the challenges we face in life (James 1:3) so we should expect God work on our character through trials and challenges-Jim.
Before you start a prayer group, the first step is to decide what type of prayer group you want to create. There are a number of different types of prayer groups from which to choose. Here are some guidelines for choosing the type of prayer group that meets the vision and needs of those forming the group.
Table of contents
- 1 1. Ask “Why do I want to start a prayer group?”
- 2 2. Ask, “What spiritual work do we want to accomplish and what needs are we hoping to meet?”
- 3 3. Pray and meditate over the different types of prayer groups.
- 4 4. Write a purpose statement for your new prayer group.
- 5 5. Name your group.
- 6 6. Form your prayer group.
1. Ask “Why do I want to start a prayer group?”
You will be able to more easily decide what type of group you want to start by first asking yourself this question, “Why do I want to start a prayer group?” Do you want to pray for prayer requests from others? Or are you seeking a way to meditate together? Or are you hoping to primarily pray for the needs of each other based on a common life situation, such as a group of parents of teens? Or are you interested in offering healing prayer times? Or do you want to gather a group to learn how to pray more effectively? Or do you want to get together for praise and adoration? Or are you organizing a group to pray for a short term need, such as during national elections?
The most successful prayer groups start with a primary focus or mission that meets the vision or needs of those organizing the group and speaks to what God has put into the hearts of those joining the group.
Of course prayer groups don’t have to stick to rigid formulas. When we begin to pray, the Holy Spirit may prompt us in many directions. That’s why most prayer groups will engage in a variety of different prayer focuses during the course of a meeting. However there is normally one main focus that gives the group coherence and keeps the group on mission. As time goes on, sometimes the focus or mission of the prayer group may change and evolve as the Spirit leads and new members join. However God always seems to start with a fairly specific mission or calling for each prayer group.
2. Ask, “What spiritual work do we want to accomplish and what needs are we hoping to meet?”
Prayer os an active spiritual mission. The act of praying meets needs in a very real and powerful way. The specific needs will vary by church and community. Ask God to show you what the needs are.
For instance, you may be in a church that has a very well established intercessory prayer group that is doing an excellent job of praying for the prayer requests of the greater congregation. However the group may not be growing and few new members join. That’s perfectly normal for an intercessory prayer group. However it might point out a need for the formation of another, different kind of prayer group. It’s possible that some people may be intimidated by the beautifully worded prayers of the veteran intercessory prayer group members. They could be afraid to join because they feel their prayers don’t sound as eloquent. This might point out a need for a group that helps people learn how to pray by praying together in a natural, non-threatening way. A surprising number of wonderful Christians feel self conscious praying out loud!
3. Pray and meditate over the different types of prayer groups.
The following is a general list of various types of prayer groups that will help you determine the kind of prayer group God might be leading you to start.
Intercessory Prayer Group: Intercessory Prayer Groups meet to pray for prayer requests that come from a variety of sources. Prayer requests might come via email, from a prayer request box in a church, from the church staff or from members of the group. The focus is primarily on praying for needs beyond the specific needs of the group members. Intercessory prayer groups might pray for the ill, the bereaved, world situations, church needs, and social issues. Of course they also pray for each other as well when special needs arise.
In such groups, prayer requests are announced or discussed in the group, then the group prays over the requests. This is by far the most common type of prayer group and the type that does the bulk of the prayer “work” in most church settings today.
Intercessory prayer groups may take requests from all sources, covering any and all prayer needs that come in. Or intercessory prayer groups may be specialized, praying specifically for a certain group or issue. Examples of specialized intercessory prayer groups would include groups that are a payer support team for a specific ministry or groups that pray for a specific group such as law enforcement officers.
Meditation Prayer Group: Meditation Prayer Groups are distinctive in that they do not seek or share prayer requests but rather focus on going inward to experience God’s presence, renewal and guidance. The idea behind a meditation prayer group is to set aside the cares of the world and to draw closer to God. Examples of this kind of prayer group include Taize type prayer services where praise songs are sung meditatively in a candle lit sacred space with a cross or religious painting as an aid to meditation. Other examples of this kind of prayer group are Centering Prayer groups where the mind is quieted in order to focus on God and Soaking Prayer groups where an atmosphere of sanctuary and holiness is created into which participants immerse themselves.
Mutual Support Prayer Group: Mutual Support Prayer groups meet primarily to lift each other up in prayer. They are often formed around common life situations such as military spouses, employment seekers, parents of young children, etc. They are characterized by the sharing of personal feelings, needs, struggles and opportunities. In order to facilitate this, these groups are typically small so that everyone has a chance to share their heart and to pray for the needs of the others. Although part of their prayer time may be used to pray for others outside of the group as requested by a group member whose heart has been touched by a need they see, this type of group does not actively seek prayer requests from outside of the group.
Healing Prayer Group: Healing Prayer Groups form for the express purpose of praying for the physical, emotional or spiritual healing of others. Often such groups open their meetings to those who desire prayer for healing and they may be structured like a short church service where prayers of healing are the main focus.
Praise Prayer Group: Praise Prayer Groups meet for the purpose of praising God through expressions of thankfulness and praise for who God is and for what He does. An example is Eucharistic Adoration. In my limited experience, these types of prayer groups seem fairly rare. Most often prayers of praise are practiced as a part of other prayer groups but are not the sole focus of a prayer group.
Learning How to Pray Group: In a Learning How to Pray Group members meet for the purpose of developing better prayer habits, gaining Biblical knowledge about prayer or exchanging ideas on how to pray more effectively. In this type of group the focus is not so much on specific requests but rather on gaining skills and knowledge on how to pray. The group typically learns through the use of study materials, through the sharing of ideas from among the group members and by participating in different types of prayer methods.
Short Term Need Prayer Group: The Short Term Need Prayer Group may form to support a specific project or undertaking. For instance a prayer group might form to pray about an upcoming evangelism event, to pray for a pastoral search committee endeavoring to find a new minister for a church or they may form to pray for a church, community or national problem. Once the event is over or the problem has been dealt with, the group’s work is done and they disband.
Discipleship Prayer Group: The focus of this type of prayer group is to grow together in your overall Christian life. Such groups often are lead by a strong leader who offers guidelines and/or teachings in Christian “formation” or the disciplines of Christian growth such as prayer, Bible study and service. These groups also often have an element of accountability to them where members share their personal progress or problems in living out their Christian faith within the last week.
4. Write a purpose statement for your new prayer group.
Once you have received God’s guidance for the type of prayer group you are being led to begin, it’s time to write a purpose statement for your group. Keep this statement short and to the point so that it can be used as a “tag line” when seeking members for the group either through personal invitation or via notices in newsletters and bulletins.
As an example, I am a member of an intercessory group whose purpose is to support the ministries and ministry leaders of our church in prayer. With our mission in mind we go about our prayer work by dividing up the names of all of the ministry leaders such as the pastors, ushers, and mission leaders into personal lists which we each pray for daily and weekly, thus covering everyone in prayer including the church historian.
5. Name your group.
Knowing the purpose of your group will help you pick a name for your group. A name is important for letting people know which specific prayer group you’re inviting them to or which one will be praying for them. Examples of prayer group names might be “Dads of Teens Prayer Group.” You can also identify a prayer group by the day of week that it meets such as “Wednesday Morning Meditation Prayer Group.”
Another idea is to form the group first, write your purpose statement, then let the members of the prayer group offer suggestions and vote on a good name.
6. Form your prayer group.
Once you’ve chosen the type of prayer group God is leading you to form, it’s time to go about finding group members and setting up the group format. For tips and ideas on how to form a prayer group, see the following articles:
Starting an intercessory prayer group
Starting a mutual support prayer group
Caring for Intercessory Prayer group members
How to pray with others
Using a conference call prayer line
How to start an intercessory prayer group book review
How to start a meditation prayer group
Copyright Karen Barber 2013. All rights reserved.
Group prayer is powerful. Group prayer is natural. Group prayer is necessary.
Christians are to grow in their faith by being in a community of believers. “Lone Ranger Christians” are out of place both in the body of Christ and in a local body of believers. We need one another. We complement one another. We exercise our spiritual gifts in the context and under the authority of an assembly’s leadership, whatever form that might take (e.g., elders, deacons, or pastors/ministers/priests/bishops/rectors, to name but a few). Even–or perhaps especially–those with the gift of evangelist, while their ministry is out in the world, need the prayers and fellowship of other believers if they want their gift to be blessed by God.
Paul’s analogy between our physical bodies and the body of Christ (both universal and local) is but one approach in answering your question about communal prayer (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, especially vv.12-14). Some believers are particularly gifted in public prayer. They have the gift of pouring out their hearts to God in a way which honors God and blesses and encourages fellow believers.
Some believers are especially gifted to be prayer warriors within their private prayer closets. They are every bit as important as the public pray-ers. Frankly, we need both. Even if you are not particularly gifted in public prayer, whether in the company of one or one hundred other believers, mere self-consciousness should not keep you from doing so. God is our primary audience for prayer. Paul tells us in Romans,
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (vv.26-27 NIV).
Public prayer’s benefit to those who listen should not be minimized, in my opinion. Even the most “stumbling, bumbling” prayer (if there is such a thing) can be a blessing of encouragement to our fellow Christians. In a small group of two or three, prayer can not only bless and encourage others, but it can bind Christians together more closely and cause them to be more open and even accountable to one another. These are good things which are not to been gainsaid.
There is a touching account of Paul and his fellow missionaries whose ship docked for a short time in Tyre, Syria. The first thing they did was to “look up” the disciples in that city, after which they stayed with them for a week. The missionaries’ stay in Tyre ends with the following verse:
“When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another” (Acts 21:5).
In fact, if you were to take the time to search the book of Acts for the words pray, prayer, praying, and prayed (at biblestudytools.com or biblegateway.com), I feel confident you would realize how important communal prayer was to the early Christians, with so many wonderful things happening as a result of earnest, concerted prayer. Peter’s miraculous release from prison is just one such account.
“So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And his chains fell off his hands” (Acts 12:5-7, my emphasis).
We know what happened next. The angel led Peter out of the prison, past two more guards, and opened the iron gate that led to the city (“which opened for them by itself,” v.10) so that Peter could once again join his brothers and sisters who had been praying for his release!
This account is but one in the book of Acts of the power and necessity of prayer, particularly when a brother or sister is in “crisis mode.”
We also need to pray for one another (and by the way, the “one anothers” of the New Testament are good to look up, and not only when researching communal prayer) in non-crisis mode, as when a brother or sister in Christ has an important decision to make, when they have committed a sin, when they are ill, when they are out of work, or when relatives are unsaved (see, for example, James 5:14, 16). The list goes on and on. Just as we are individually to
“pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
so also are we to persevere in prayer with our fellow believers. Prayer is the life-blood of the church universal and the church local. Two or more local churches, even of different denominations, should also join together in prayer whenever there is a concerted evangelistic effort, for example. Regardless of denomination, if we name the name of Christ we are one in Christ and should be able to unite with each other in prayer on special occasions.
Individual, private prayer is good. Communal or group prayer is also good. We need not choose between one or the other; rather, we need to do both on a regular basis. Only then will both our personal relationship with God be strengthened and our relationships with other believers become more meaningful, fulfilling, and loving.
Prayer changes things. It also changes people!
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The Bible is full of examples of intercessory prayer, both in the Old Testament and the New. The following are but a few. Hopefully, you will take the time to search out other prayers within the Bible for yourself.
Abraham’s Prayer for Sodom
Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
Moses Prayer, Interceding For Israel
But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’”
Moses Interceding For Israel Once Again
So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”
Ezra’s Prayer, Identifying With The Sins Of His People
O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery. For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.
“And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’ And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? O Lord, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”
Elijah Asks God to Reveal Himself to the People
I Kings 18:36-37
At the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
Daniel’s Prayer, Identifying With The Sins Of His People.
I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
“O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
Nehemiah’s Prayer, Identifying With The Sins Of His People.
They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
“They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
Also read Nehemiah 9 in its entirety.
Before Going to the Father, Jesus intercedes for His Followers
There are several other examples of Jesus praying throughout the first four books of the New Testament (the Gospels).
“I have revealed youto those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Stephen’s Prayer, For His Murderers, At The Point Of His Death.
Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Paul’s Prayer For The Ephesians
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
Paul’s Prayer For The Philippians
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”>
These are only examples of Paul’s prayers. You can search for others quite easily!
Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians Colossians 1:9-12
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light
Further Bible Resources and Leads to Prayer Examples:
Encouraging Bible Verses
Another website I created that is home to hundreds of Bible verses organized by subject.
Examples of prayers written or spoken by modern day Christians and by our brothers and sisters in Christ who went before us.
Daily Audio Bible Listen to the Bible being read 365 days a year. This isn’t a pre-recorded CD or audio book! For the last 10 years, Brian Hardin reads the bible every day and often adds a short commentary at the end of the daily bible reading. By the end of each year, you will have read God’s word, cover to cover!
BibleGateway.Com Find dozens of Bible translations, a search engine, bible reading plans and study aids here.
Find Bible Reading Plans on Encouraging Bible Quotes another website under the ministry of Katherine Walden
All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
©1997, 2016 Katherine Walden
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