Saturday, July 12, 2014

How Then Should We Pray?

Twenty years ago God burdened my heart for corporate prayer in a way that I had never experienced before. Sure, as a believer for thirty-two years I had done my share of praying, but this was different. God so saturated my heart and mind with the desire to pray that I devoured every book, every resource, every sermon on prayer I could get my hands on.

One book that stood out above the rest in its simplicity and practicality was What Happens When Women Pray by Evelyn Christenson. 

It was as if someone had turned a light switch on for me. No longer did prayer groups have to be long and boring, listening to one or two people drone on and on while the rest slept. With renewed excitement, I took Christenson’s format and organized three small group women’s prayer meetings which met during the week. Our groups found the style non-threatening and freeing. Here is what we did. Perhaps you will find these ideas helpful in your group.

1)   We kept groups small—no more than 5-6 people in a circle. This helped the more reserved women to participate more readily.

2)  Rather than spend time sharing requests, we simply started to pray. This helped cut down on repetition. One person would be designated to begin with just one request mentioned in a short prayer. Then each person in the circle would pray for that same request or pass off to the person beside her by lightly tapping her arm. This kept prayer time moving with the focus on one topic/person at a time, rather than multiple topics. It was exciting to see how often each person in the group had a different prayer to add concerning the topic or person mentioned. After prayer for that item passed around the circle, the next person would begin a new topic and prayer would proceed around for that issue.  Members were encouraged to feel free not to pray for every topic if they did not feel led to do so.

3)    We designated an hour for our weekly prayer time. We discovered that it takes a few minutes for group members to “warm up” to praying with one another. After the initial walls came tumbling down, members were then free to pray in earnest, baring their hearts and souls, sometimes crying, sometimes laughing together with the other members and with the Lord.

4)   Another technique our groups found refreshing was praying the Scripture back to the Lord. We would alert members to the week we would be doing this so that they could come prepared. Opening the Bible during prayer time, each member would take turns reading a passage in prayer, then thanking God for how that passage had impacted her life in some way.

Employing the above methods breathed life into our prayer time, cut down on boredom and wandering minds, and helped group members better recognize answers to prayer when God provided them since they had spent so much time praying around the circle for one person or item.

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