By Janet Thompson, Crosswalk.com
When we moved to our rural mountain home, one of the first calls I received was from a woman inviting me to join a prayer group praying for our community. Our relator was part of the group and had shared with them that I was a Christian author and speaker who had just moved into our small town.
I knew God was confirming that we had picked a perfect spot for retirement! A prayer group was dedicated to praying for God’s protection and intervention in the lives of all who live here. What a blessed welcome!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Fizkes
What Is a Prayer Group?
Whether we call it a Bible study group, Small Group, Life Group, or Prayer Group . . . when believers gather, we should pray. The central focus of the groups should always be growing in our knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible, and joining in a time of prayer and praise. Our church actually has a time of Prayer Praise & Share during Sunday morning worship where the congregation can ask for prayer or share praises and then an elder leads in corporate prayer. What a precious time, but admittedly not always feasible in a larger church.
However, like the believers who met in a home to pray for Peter when he was in prison (Acts 12:1-17), church members often form a prayer group to pray during times of emergencies or crisis. Permanent prayer groups might spawn from such an experience.
Our church also has a weekly prayer group that started thirty-five years ago when three women got together to pray. One of those original group members is still a faithful participant and the prayer group meets every Thursday at 4:00 PM for the sole purpose of praying over prayer requests, church needs, the community, and the country . . . whatever the Holy Spirit leads them to pray.
A prayer group is simply a group of believers who meet on a regular basis to pray and praise in the name of the Lord. Some prayer groups might have a specific focus like praying for their community or praying for families, or praying for elections and government. Moms praying for children. Some groups might pray for prisoners. The neighborhood. Schools. The list is endless.
A prayer group doesn’t require many members so that everyone has a chance to participate, but it also shouldn’t be exclusive or limited. If a prayer group grows beyond six then they can break into smaller groups when it’s time to pray.
Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. John 16:24 NLT
When I asked prayer group members what their reasons were for participating, their answers expressed a variety of blessings. Here are six reasons that might resonate with you:
Reason #1 to Join a Prayer Group: Accountability
“Refocuses my daily thoughts.”
The original member of our church prayer group that I mentioned in the introduction said she goes to the church to pray on the designated day and time even when she knows the other members can’t attend. She knows she’ll take the full hour to pray without the distractions at home.
So often, we mean to pray but the day just slips away, the phone rings, or a family member interrupts and we never get back to our “prayer closet.” Attending a prayer group that meets at a specific time and day with the purpose of prayer keeps us accountable in our prayer life.
There’s also accountability to the other members who expect attendance and mutual participation. Meeting with the family of God helps us become comfortable verbalizing prayers. God doesn’t care how we pray; He just wants us to pray. Prayer is our conversation with God.
You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2
Reason #2 to Join a Prayer Group: Maturity in Faith
“The greatest blessing for me has been knowing God in a deeper way.”
“I find that my prayer partners see or discern other pieces to a matter and between us we fill in the missing parts so the whole is covered.”
The Bible tells us that iron sharpens iron (Pr. 27:17). Hearing the heart and discernment of others’ prayers helps to expand our own wisdom and knowledge of God as we experience a oneness in the Spirit. It’s a joy to feel the Holy Spirit move in our heart and put words and thoughts in our mind to express however the Lord leads.
We mature in our faith by reading and studying God’s Word and speaking His truths as we learn more about what it means to be a follower of Christ. Participating in a prayer group provides the opportunity to let God grow us spiritually and emotionally into men and women who can be witnesses to the supernatural power of prayer that we experience.
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord. Is. 59:21
Reason #3 to Join a Prayer Group: Our Personal Relationship with God Grows
“I see God’s hand move more in my life when I’m in Bible study and prayer groups.”
“I believe the Lord releases His love and softens our hearts through our prayers.”
In a prayer group, you draw near to God as you come into His presence while setting aside the cares and responsibilities of the world and joining your hearts together as one in prayer. Participating in a prayer group will probably also lead you to spend more quiet time alone with the Lord because nothing compares to the glory of time spent with Him.
You’ll become a prayer warrior in your private life and feel compelled to pray more over everything! Praying and thanking God becomes routine for even the smallest of events like finding a parking space or big decisions like moving or changing jobs. Worry is replaced with prayer. You’ll find yourself taking everything to God in prayer daily, not just during prayer group. God will become your closest confidant and ally.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8
Related Resource: Listen to our FREE prayer podcast, Teach Us to Pray with Christina Patterson. You can find all the episodes at LifeAudio.com. Listen to an episode right now by clicking the play button below:
Photo Credit: ©Sparrowstock
Reason #4 to Join a Prayer Group: Affirmation that God Answers Prayer
“An added blessing is to watch in awe at answered prayer.”
“Praise helps us to focus on our LORD God Almighty and to align our hearts and thoughts with Him and His perfect will. We see the hand of God move in our lives as He answers our prayers.”
An integral part of any prayer group is sharing praises for the answers to the group’s prayers. So often, we center our prayers on requests of God but forget to thank Him when we see an answer. Sometimes that’s because He answered differently than we expected, but in a group it’s a higher probability that someone will notice and everyone can take time together to praise the Lord.
I recommend recording prayer requests and leaving a column for the answers. It might take a while to see the answer but when you start seeing the praises in the second column, it’s an exciting reaffirmation that God answers prayers in His time and in His way.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15
Reason #5 to Join a Prayer Group: Fellowship and Support
“I've been involved in a prayer group for years - the focus is mostly to pray for our children (momsinprayer.org) however, the friendships have developed to where we pray for many different needs. Also, we experience the supernatural way God connects His people to not only Himself but to one another.
“Listening for how the Holy Spirit leads and confirms in the prayers of others, plus praying with others, knits our hearts together.”
Fellowship, camaraderie, and bonding is an integral part of any group but especially a prayer group because it’s a close time of open sharing and connecting before the Heavenly Father. Members can encourage each other and comfort those who are going through difficult times and celebrate victories. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).
We live in contentious times right now and we need each other. There’s a sense of peace and joy when a body of believers meets in the Lord’s name for a common cause and for His glory. A glimpse of what it will be like in eternity.
“ Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matt. 18:20
Reason #6 to Join a Prayer Group: Because You Care!
“We can be God’s hands and feet.”
“We have helped each other so much. Making life decisions, we laugh, we cry, we encourage, we listen, and most importantly, we pray for each other and those who God puts in our lives.”
Often our personal prayers center on ourselves or those close to us. A prayer group focuses more on the needs of others. You pray for group members but also prayer requests they bring up. Even if the group has a particular prayer focus, those prayers often spawn into other concerns and world events in need of spiritual intervention.
God wants us to “pray continuously” (1 Thess. 5:17) and to pray for all things and all needs He brings to our attention. We can’t always change the outcome or even know the plans of God, but we can be part of His process as we meet together to pray over the issues on each member’s heart.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chr. 7:14
As you’ve read the quotes from participants of prayer groups, if you’re in one now, you were probably shaking your head in agreement. If not in a prayer group, I hope you’re encouraged to join one or maybe start one yourself.
Getting to watch God at work in the midst of the group is without question the most rewarding blessing. Prayer is a special privilege and honor that God gives us to experience the power of the Lord in our life. A prayer group allows us to share a little Heaven while we await His return.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Heb. 10:24-25
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jon Tyson