By Michael C. Mack
Do your group or class members get so caught up in “saying a prayer” and putting it into the right format with the right words that they miss having a conversation with one another and Jesus? Do people refuse to pray aloud because they think they’ll get it wrong? Does your group take prayer requests and then pray them back to God as if he isn’t present? Do people give answers to people’s problems or try to “fix” them during prayer requests?
These activities make it clear on whose power the group members are most reliant. If you know Christ is present with you and his power is with you when you meet, how might you pray differently than you do now?
Here are four tips for making group prayer more Christ-centered and healthy.
1. Remind group members that as you gather in Jesus’ name, he really is there with you (Matthew 18:20).
2. Before you pray, read Matthew 18:20 or 1 John 1:3. Then discuss the implications for group prayer.
3. Remind the group that as you share prayer requests with one another, God is listening, so you don’t need to repeat your prayer requests back to him as if he didn’t hear them the first time!
4. Ask group members to share what’s on their minds and hearts with each other and Jesus at the same time. If they prefer to share their request as a prayer, that is, directed to Jesus, that’s fine. The rest of the group will listen in. If they prefer to share it with group members, that’s OK too. Jesus is present and listening.
Prayer should be the most natural thing Christ followers do in community. Make your prayer time Christ-centered!