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Prayer Groups

'They all joined together constantly in prayer' (Acts 1:1)

In the history of the church there has never been a revival that didn't begin on the knees. Prayer is the key to spiritual renewal in our own lives and that of the church. Where, in this busy world, are the people who can find a quiet place where they can pray and seek God's face?

If spiritual renewal only comes by way of prayer then it is extremely important that a prayer movement be set up within the traditional church. Fortunately there are already hundreds of prayer groups functioning and this is growing all the time. They meet together at national prayer days and at conferences. Thousands of people visit the annual national prayer day that is arranged by several organisations (including the Evangelical Working Alliance) and takes place in January.

By means of prayer letters we keep in contact with one another. Prayer is hard work. It requires perseverance. But in the parable of the sower God promises that we will reap 30, 60 and 100 fold more fruit if we persevere.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were one or more prayer groups functioning in every local church, where people could come together to pray for ministers and church councils, for the sick and for the needs of the church and the world?

Is there already such a group in your area? If not, could it be that God is calling you to begin one?
The Bible says, ' The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective' (James 5:16)
You can also read the folder 'How do I begin a prayer group in my church?' below.

Text of this folder:

Why should we pray together with others

'Prayer is the breath of life, the heartbeat of the church.' 'Our prayers and God's grace are like two buckets on the same well; as one goes up the other comes down.' - 'Prayer is to the soul what food is to the body.' three quotes that underline the importance of prayer. Much prayer begins in the inner room, in the believers personal times of prayer. But alongside that comes prayer with others. It was Jesus who connected communal prayer with this wonderful promise, 'I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them' (Mat. 18: 19-20). There is a special blessing for praying together with others.

How can communal prayer supplement that personal prayer in the inner room? In order to explain it we can use the example of a cable. A cable consists of separate wires. On their own these wires don't have much power, but when they are woven together as one, the resulting cable can be very strong. That's how it can be with praying together. Another persons prayer can stimulate you. It gives you ideas for your own prayer. You fill up what is missing in each others individual prayers. In this way praying together becomes like a symphony to God.

Together you are stronger than alone. Sometimes it's just two or three that come together for prayer. But the power of prayer doesn't depend on the size of the group. It depends on the Holy Spirit and the unity in the prayer. A thousand people can pray together, but if there is no unity the prayer is powerless. When two people pray in faith they can 'move mountains'. This unity is a unity of faith in Jesus Christ. You can liken it to a wagon wheel. The closer the spokes come to the wheel's axle the closer they are together.

Praying together for your church

Praying together with others for what is happening in the church where you are a member...that is the purpose of a church prayer group.

Of course there are prayer groups with other purposes; prayer groups that pray for Israel and the Jewish people; prayer groups for the government and for society; for persecuted Christians; prayer groups in junior schools and high schools. But this folder is concerned with prayer groups that pray for the local church, and for the building up of the church of Christ.

It is important that such a prayer group forms part of the whole structure of the local church and comes under the authority of the church leaders. This prevents the prayer group from being consigned to the sidelines. A prayer group that has a place in the whole structure of the churches work will also be better able to include concrete aspects of the churches work in its prayers of thanks and intercession: catechism classes, fellowship groups, the Sunday service, evangelism and missionary work, pastoral work and the sick, etc.

Prayer doesn't really go beyond the ceiling...although...
How do I begin a prayer group?

The first step is: pray about it. Who could I ask to help me start a prayer group? What would be the best way of deciding what will happen in the prayer group?

Consultation with the church leaders is the second step. Ask for their permission, ask also if they will share the responsibility with you.

The third step is good publicity. Place an article in the church magazine that will motivate people to join you. People are afraid of the unknown. Many 'utsiders' find a prayer group scary: 'what exactly happens in such a group?' That's why it's necessary every now and then to explain what it is all about. This article ' from a local church magazine ' is one example:

'What happens in a prayer group?

We come together for an hour every fortnight to sing and read the Bible, but mainly to pray. We do it in such a way that everyone has the opportunity to pray out loud at least once, preferably prayers which supplement and enrich each other. Prayers are mainly for local church work, for the joys and sorrows in the church and other things that we have on our hearts. This is all done in a natural way. If you find it difficult to pray out loud... no problem, because sharing in the singing, thinking and listening is enough. Will you join us?'

The last step is having the prayer group included in the yearly overview of all the different groups that make up the church programme. In this way you let the church see that prayer is taking place.
The composition of a prayer meeting

How long should it last?

On average one to one and a half hours. This can be divided up as follows:

  • Welcome;
  • Singing one or more songs (praise, thankfulness, confession);
  • Silent prayer and/or prayer by one of the group ( i.e. in order to bring burdens to God or to pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance);
  • Short Bible reading;
  • Quiet reflection;
  • Thanks and praise to God in a few prayers and songs, connected to the Bible passage;
  • Sharing prayer points;
  • Praying together (possibly blocks of prayer on each subject so that you don't jump from one thing to another)
  • Closing together with the Lord's Prayer;
  • Closing song

Subjects for thanks and intercession could be put on paper beforehand (whether in the form of a prayer or not) and given out at the meeting.

Prayer Trio's

The meeting can be shorter when you, for example, use the idea of prayer trio's. This is when groups of three people come together to pray; once there are six people they are split and formed into two groups.

The advantage of this way of praying is:

You can come together every week for a short time, e.g. half an hour. After a short talk and Bible reading there can be a time of prayer;

  • It is easier to make a regular appointment with three people;
  • You will experience a greater measure of unity more quickly.

Tips and traps

  • Regularly make it clear - especially to newcomers- what the purpose of the prayer meeting is. It is important that everyone feels at home and that it isn't compulsory to pray out loud.
  • Avoid long prayers but make your prayers short and simple.
  • Avoid talking too much, or discussing the prayer points too much and praying too little.
  • Don't pray in a 'false' voice with an affected tone or with high-blown language. Be normal.
  • Don't misuse prayer in order to preach or to pass on detailed information.
  • Ask the diverse church groups and committees to regularly pass on topics for thanks and intercession to the group.
  • Every now and then invite someone to come and share hindrances and blessings: the chairman of a work group , a deacon, the verger... and bring these to God in prayer there and then. Or, as a prayer group, place a book of intercession at the back of the church.


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