One barrier to group prayer time occurs when group members’ lack of experience with prayer. Group members who don’t have a lot of experience with prayer usually struggle in two ways:
- They lack knowledge. Some group members just don’t know how to pray. Maybe it’s new to them, or maybe they’ve prayed privately but never in a group. One way to overcome this hurdle is to devote a group meeting to prayer. During the discussion, define or explain prayer and then lead your group through focused prayer based on the discussion. There are lots of ways to teach the principles of prayer. One is the ACTS approach in which you give your group a brief description of four aspects of prayer using the ACTS acronym:
- Adoration Acknowledging who God is, worshiping him, and praising him for his character and attributes.
- Confession Confessing sins to clear away anything that breaks fellowship with God.
- Thanksgiving Acknowledging that God provides for our needs, and communicating gratitude for what he has already done and provided.
- Supplication Presenting our requests to GodAfter explaining each aspect, encourage group members to think about what they would like to say to God in that area. Lead a time of prayer where members pray out loud about that area. You may also want to provide group members with a note card or “cheat sheet” to help them remember how to incorporate each aspect into their personal prayers.
- They lack confidence. It should come as no surprise that people who don’t know how to pray will be reluctant to do it out loud. Walking group members through the ACTS approach to prayer will probably alleviate some confidence problems. But you can also help them build confidence by creating some low-intensity baby steps that allow them to practice:
- Ask a group member to pray before the group eats dinner or dessert. (You may want to talk to the group member ahead of time, so you’re not putting him or her on the spot.)
- Have each person in the group write one prayer request on an index card and pass it to the person on his or her left. Then have each person pray out loud for the request on the card.
- Split up into groups of two or three for prayer time so no one has to prayer in front of more than two other people. This can be a very effective way to help multiples group members grow in prayer together.