power in group prayer, not a poem a lesson
by Carl Walker
Sometimes it is easy for me to miss something God wants to say to me. It seems I am so busy with my life, my doing, that I miss providing the quietness that I seem to need to hear Him.
I also find that often when I come to the time of prayer that it is so seductively easy for me not to seek what is on His agenda for me to pray about. I especially find this tends to be true of groups.
I believe the power of prayer is awesome. But the truth is (I think) often people leave a time of prayer with out having had an experience of being connected with God and feeling and seeing later that indeed God hears prayer and our prayer moves His hand.
Please pray for me in this: when people get together for prayer I want to structure the time (if it is mine to structure) such that each person has the best chance to experience a connection with God and see (now and later) God's mighty activity in space and time.
How will this happen --that each person "feels" a sense of God's presence?
Here are some presuppositions --if these presuppositions are true it will and should have a strong influence on how we structure a time of prayer.
I am convinced that the living God earnestly and passionately wants to move mightily in the earth and He chooses to involve us and wants to "court" our hearts in the process. II Chron. 16.9 and I John 3.22
But there are also desires and results of ours which are not God's. James 4.3
I believe there is often a limited number of things, sometimes only one thing, that God would have us pray in agreement over that He desires to demonstrate Himself in.
If this is so, as we structure prayer for others --that we guide and teach and influence others in how to pray-- we want to organize and influence others in a way that the one or few things on God's heart will be prayed for in agreement.
Here is a thought --what if, when we came to prayer as a group, we immediately went to prayer and, as individuals, sought from God what one issue was important to bring before Him in prayer.
Now, I'm far to Presbyterian to think that God will speak audibly and without error to us all the time. but I do believe God wants to guide us; sometimes He guides through what is on our hearts and sometimes He guides us through impressions opposite our own hearts.
What if, when we went to prayer we seek from God what one issue (or few issues one at a time) is on His heart to pray for and when a person "feels" (very subjective and rightfully so, we're not prophets) they have an idea of what is on God's heart they begin to pray out loud about that one issue. And when they felt "finished" with that one issue they give others a chance to pray for some aspect of that one issue as they feel led or motivated.
I think if we stayed on that one issue until is had been "completed" (you know, everyone that has zeal about it has prayed for it and there is a sense of completion) before we move onto another one issue I think a couple of good things would happen.
I think we'd have a better chance of praying for what was on God's heart
because we're praying for one thing at a time we'd have a better chance of being in agreement
it helps me (and I think others) stay focused
we'd spend less time talking to each other and more time in prayer --as we pray each person could write down things to pray about later and in this way share prayer requests while praying for them
some prayer needs that are not topical to the group would not come up
One cravat in all this, I think we need to make prayer personal to the one with the request. If someone has a request for a sick grandmother; ask how does this affect you, how can we pray for you? It seems to me we need to find out should we pray for how they can witness to their family in this crisis, or witness to granny, do they need faith. etc. etc. How does it affect them?
If someone wants to give a prayer request for someone else's health need but it has no effect on the one making the request (this would never happen would it?); I'd like to opt out.
And we especially need to find out where people hurt, what burden's them.
and we need to be open about our failures and sin so we and others can confess.
Here's a thought as you enter a time of prayer with others, ask God if there is anything you need to confess or He would have you confess before the group: "Lord, I saw a seductive scene on TV and I enjoyed it even though I know it didn't please you" or "Lord, I was short with my wife, and even though she deserved it from my perspective you tell me to love my wife as you love the church." etc, etc.
This can be very powerful in a small informal group and in a larger group that has been trained in prayer it can be wonderful.
Please pray for me as I seek to serve the life of the church.
let's do coffee sometime
Author's Note: so, you might be one of those who leaves a time of group prayer without feeling you've made a conncetion with God or that your prayers don't matter. I know what that feels like and I'm sure God desires better for you. Opt me in and let's work on this together
yeah, let's do coffee sometime
may I recommend Evelyn Christenson's little book on group prayer, "What Happens When Women Pray". despite its sexist title it is for all genders and I like it
Posted on 11/08/2003
Copyright © 2021 Carl Walker