Praying together at the end of a small group meeting is one of the real challenges for almost every small group. The very common fear of public speaking (number #1 fear for many) is compounded by the unspoken belief held by many that it's important to speak an unfamiliar dialect when praying (a thee and thou palooza).
What can a leader do (who may have their own struggle) to help members learn to pray together?
Here are my top 10 ideas:
1. Distribute index cards and pens and ask each person to write out a simple one sentence prayer request. Swap cards and read them aloud.
2. Ask each person to fill in the blank and say one thing they're thankful for: "God, I'm thankful for my ______________,"
3. Pull a chair into the middle of the room and suggest that since Jesus said, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20), "in tonight's meeting let's speak to Jesus as if He was right in that chair.
4. Sentence prayers with no conjunctions (and). One idea only. For example, "God help me with __________." "God I'm thankful for _______________." "God be with Dean tonight in a way he can sense."
5. Ground rule: You can only pray for a personal concern tonight. Nothing for your sister's husband's co-worker's daughter.
6. Ask your members to pair up or get in groups of three. I've written much more about this idea in The Power of a Spiritual Training Partner.
7. Read Psalm 8 from a modern translation. Move the group outdoors and ask each person to thank God for a specific aspect of nature.
8. Choose a verse about prayer (for example, Philippians 4:6-7). Print it for each member. Talk about each phrase. Ask each member to complete the phrase: "I'm most anxious about ______________." Then, simply express it to God: "God, I'm anxious about _____________. Thank you for being a God who cares."
9. Many of the Psalms are actually prayers. Have each member choose a section of a Psalm they can identify with to share as their own prayer.
10. Print copies of Psalm 61 (or a Psalm of your own choice) from The Message. Have your members read it aloud together.
These are just a few ideas. There are many, many more that will help leaders and members who struggle with this powerful aspect of group life. Do you have one that's worked for you? Use the comments to share it with the rest of us!
Looking for other skill training ideas? Click here for additional resources.
Image by Michel Benghozi