A prayer group is a group of Christians who meet regularly to pray.
Prayer is a powerful weapon against the devil, and it is also an important tool in encouraging and uplifting others.
A prayer group needs people committed to praying together. A prayer group invites and encourages others to share their prayer needs and as a group, offers prayers of praise, petition and thanksgiving to God. It should be a safe place for people to share their concerns, joys and heartaches, knowing that many are praying on their behalf.
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How to Start a Prayer Group
- Seek out other Christians and ask if they will pray with you on a regular basis.
- If you are finding it difficult to invite others to join you, don’t be discouraged. Pray that God will lead you to someone.
- Remember: you only need two to start a prayer group.
- Pray that your group will grow.
- Choose a suitable meeting place. For example, meet in each other’s home; meet outside in a park; find a spare room in the office during your lunch hour.
- Make a commitment to meet at a certain time once a week, fortnightly, monthly, or whatever suits you.
- Set aside a specific time period — most groups are comfortable with one hour.
- If you wish to bring your prayer group to the attention of others, begin to advertise as soon as possible. A notice could be placed in church or school newsletters and bulletins, or in community noticeboards. It will attract other Christians to your group, and it will let your church and/or community know that you are praying for them.
Tips for Prayer Group Leaders
- Pray regularly for your group, that it will grow in love and unity.
- Encourage your group to support one another. The care that you give each other can be a powerful witness to those around you.
- Keep a book with names, addresses and telephone numbers of your group.
- Keep another book with a record of things prayed for.
- Work out dates, times and venues of meetings for six months ahead, and give a copy to each member of the group.
- If you are praying for specific institutions, such as local schools or businesses, make an appointment with the appropriate people and convey the following (as appropriate):
- Your concern for the pressures people face today (whether those people are school children, people in the workforce etc)
- The formation of your prayer group
- Your willingness to pray for specific needs
- As your group grows, consider a co-leader to help and support you.
- Allow another person to lead the group from time to time, so that it doesn’t become dependent on you.
- Be mindful that if you leave, someone needs to replace you.
Tips for running prayer group meetings
- When you meet, reassure people that they don’t have to pray out loud. Some people need time before they feel comfortable praying in front of others.
- Have a list of prayer points ready before each meeting. This can be added to when you get together.
- If the meeting is in a home, and you are going to offer refreshments, consider offering them at the end rather than at the beginning of your time together.
- As far as possible, keep to the agreed time schedule.
- Begin with an opening prayer, dedicating your time together to the Lord.
- Give a short devotional, or nominate another person in the group to do so (having asked them ahead of time).
- Sharing time: this period will develop as people begin to know each other better and as special needs become apparent.
- Combined prayer can begin with praise and thanksgiving. Try to vary input, such as reading of Psalms, singing, or play praise music.
- Remember: There is no right or wrong! If a particular format suits your prayer group one week, but doesn’t seem right the next, that’s alright. Choose the style of prayer group meeting that’s right for your group.
Essentials of a successful prayer group
Be committed to praying with others
Jesus responds to united hearts. When we show our willingness to pray in harmony and love, the Lord promises to be present.
Take advantage of any opportunity to pray with others
Accept the invitations offered to pray with others. Ask others to join you for informal prayer. Offer to pray about concerns or problems raised in conversation with others. You don’t have to wait for the prayer group meeting to pray with someone or to pray for their needs. God loves to hear your prayers! Do it informally, simply and briefly on the spot. If the person is not a member of your prayer group, first ask their permission before sharing their problems with your group.
Confidently suggest prayer when problems are faced.
There is nothing too big or too small to bring to God’s attention. Anyone may call their prayer group or their church to prayer when a need is recognised. Breaking off the discussion in a board or business meeting for a season of prayer gives God opportunity to apply divine wisdom to the situation.
Give others a chance to pray
When praying in a group, leave some issues for others to cover. Keep your prayers short and to the point. Long comprehensive prayers are better offered in private.
Affirm the prayers of other audibly
While in group prayer tell God you agree with the prayers already offered and you affirm and uphold these petitions.
Use the names of other group members in your prayers.
Make an effort to memorise the names of each person in your prayer group. Mention their name as you affirm their prayer in the group.
Treat the prayers of others with respect
Leave the content of your group prayers with the Lord. It is not helpful to carry information shared in prayer away from the group or to air it elsewhere.
Follow through on your prayer promises
If you have promised to pray for someone or something in your prayer group, follow through. If you are likely to forget their request, keep a notebook handy and write requests as you receive them. Give people confidence knowing that their needs will be taken to the Lord by yourself and, if they wish, your prayer group.
Pray specific prayers
Get specific in your prayers. Give God the details, and don’t be afraid to ask Him for what you want. He has promised to answer the prayers of those who seek His will.
Who or what should your prayer group pray for?
If your prayer group is struggling for ideas on what you could pray for, here are some suggestions. You can pray for:
- Your pastor and his family
- Those in service industries — nurses, doctors, police, ambulance etc.
- Volunteers in your community and overseas.
- Service organisations such as ADRA, Salvation Army, and Red Cross
- Your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews — and don’t forget the children of your friends.
- Schools, both Christian and non-Christian, that they will teach our children to be responsible citizens.
- Christian teachers in non-Christian schools, that they might be an effective witness.
- Your neighbours and families in your street or suburb. Is there a family who is struggling? Ask God to meet their needs.
- Government leaders and officials
- Your supervisor at work
- Your colleagues
- People suffering from the effects of natural disasters all over the world, whether it is drought, flood, earthquake or any other disaster.
- Refugees and others who have lost their homes due to civil war.
- Those suffering from religious persecution. Pray that their faith will remain strong, and that their persecutors will come to know Christ also.
- Your family
- Your spouse
- Missionaries, both at home and overseas, endeavouring to share the good news of the Gospel.
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!
Everyone is welcome to attend our group chanted prayers, or pujas in Sanskrit. These are an important component of training in a spiritual life. They help to still our mind, connect with the Buddhas, and receive blessings. Below is the list of the group prayer sessions we practice together at the Center. All pujas are chanted in English with some occasional Sanskrit.
Some pujas include a special food offering called a tsog offering. The merit (good fortune) accumulated from this offering is then dedicated to world peace in general, and to the welfare of specific people in the community. You are welcome to bring a vegetarian food offering, such as fruit, cookies, or a non-alcoholic drink, if you wish. If you would like for us to make dedications on behalf of someone you know, please complete the form on our Prayer Requests page.
Beginners are welcome!