Though a foundational practice of the Christian life, prayer may be one of the most overlooked elements within group life. Your group is probably not immune to the tendency to spend plenty of time talking about prayer requests, but very little in actual corporate communication with God. Perhaps the thing that trips us up is the “elementary” nature of prayer. While we know in our heads that prayer is really not that complicated, it’s not an area most believers consider a strong, vibrant part of their daily experience. This internal knowledge of the frustration, mystery, uncertainty we’ve often experienced makes us hesitant to dive into any kind of genuine, open prayer with others. So, more often than not, when it comes to our community groups, the opportunity to prayer corporately too often gets relegated to an obligatory component, tacked onto the end of our group meetings.
I’m pretty sure that’s not what God intended when he designed us with the capacity and need for prayer. That’s certainly not the model we see from Jesus’ own life and practice of the early church. Quite the contrary! Consistent, life-changing prayer may be one of the most empowering things a community group can do to allow the transforming influence of Jesus to be experienced by the group members! The corporate nature of the prayer experience certainly is implied in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. Take some time to read through and reflect on the prayer, especially noting the plural pronouns used.
The truth is, prayer is indicative of transformation…what people share as prayer requests reflect what they believe about God, what they believe about their relationship with Him, and what they believe the purpose is of the Community Group. The shared experiencing of prayer in your Community Group is an opportunity to cultivate group members’ personal transformation, while adding depth to the group’s relationships.
Start by considering how you might use some of these Creative Expressions of Prayer in your Community Group. As a church, we will be focusing on prayer in the first of this year. Every Community Group is asked to do a study on prayer in the first trimester of 2012. Or consider downloading and using one of the following:
Being the Answer to Jesus’ Prayer (John 17)
Great Prayers: 6 Brief Studies in Prayer
Prayer That Changed History: 7 Brief Studies of Prayer in the Early Church
Praying Like Jesus: 10 Brief Studies in Prayer