For all our talk about prayer, we probably don’t do enough of it. One of the best ways to improve in prayer, however, is to do it in community. This is why Christians often pray in groups. From the early church onward, corporate prayer has been a hallmark of devotion and a source of power for Christians. Many Christian revivals can trace their origins to a small prayer meeting — beside a haystack or at a local establishment.
Whether you meet at Panera Bread or in an empty Sunday school classroom doesn’t matter. You can even try a haystack. What does matter is that you’re praying. What matters even more is the all-powerful God to whom you’re praying. If you truly yearn for revival and for a mighty work of God, prayer is the means.
Who can start a prayer group?
I’ve met many Christians who want to pray more, and who want to start a prayer meeting. The question they often ask is “Can I? Should I?”
It’s important to begin by making this point very clear: You don’t need to possess leadership, influence, or personality to effect change by prayer. Prayer is the inherent right of every child of God. The effectiveness of your prayer doesn’t depend on your personal connectedness or status within your church. Anyone can start a prayer group.
Pastor, you can begin an informal prayer meeting on a given weekday. Workaday dad, you can meet up with a few church members for breakfast before work. Mom, you can meet for a few minutes of prayer during your kids’ playdate. (And since you’re watching the kids, you don’t even need to close your eyes while you pray.)
Anyone can start a prayer group. And more of us should.
Who should be in a prayer group?
Prayer groups are not cliques. They are simply a gathering of Christians whose shared purpose is to praise God, plead with him, and expect him to work. These are times of sacred communion, not ego stroking or gossip sharing.
When you start a prayer group the people who will come are those who will want to come. This isn’t a force-them-to-do-it event. When your prayer group has an open invitation, you’ll attract people who are open to God working in prayer. That’s the kind of person you want in a prayer group.
How do you start a prayer group?
Begin with a belief in prayer. Prayer requires faith (Matthew 21:22). If you want to start a prayer group, you must own a belief that prayer works.
Decide where and how to meet. Logistics matter, even with something as sacred as prayer. Prayer groups and prayer meetings can take place anywhere and at anytime. Whether it’s the flagpole or the break room, you’ll need to figure out where you’re going to meet. Here are a few ideas.
Sunday prayer groups. Meeting on Sunday before church is a great idea. Doing so naturally opens up opportunities to pray for the morning worship, for visitors who may be in attendance, for the pastor as he preaches, and for the worship team as they minister. Sunday prayer groups often meet an hour or half hour before the service, and use some empty room in the church facilities.
Morning prayer groups. As a coffee-shop frequenter living in the Bible belt, I can’t be at Starbucks through the 7AM hour and not see a group meeting for prayer and Bible study. You don’t have to meet at Starbucks. Anywhere works. Meeting during a morning time allows the truly dedicated to make the effort to meet for prayer.
Saturday morning prayer groups. Out of all the times of the week, Saturday morning is perhaps the least productive. It’s usually a time for sleeping in, which is pretty important. This time can also be used for prayer.
Be creative. Prayer can be done anywhere and at anytime. While living in South Korea, I knew many Christians who would combine their early-morning exercise (a hike up the mountain) with an early morning prayer meeting. 5am on a mountaintop is surely a great time and place to pray. Perhaps you share a commute with Christians. What about meeting for a prayer huddle on the subway? Maybe you don’t have time to go somewhere and meet. Pick up the phone and have a prayer meeting.
Inform and invite others. Once you know where and when to have your prayer group, the process is pretty simple. Simply let people know that you’re meeting. “Hey, I’m going to be at Starbucks at 7am. You can join me for prayer if you’d like.” No confrontation. No demands. No condescension. Just a “Hey, I’m praying. You can join me.” You might get a few people. You might get nobody at all. It’s not up to you to cajole people into praying. You may not fill stadiums with massive prayer groups, but you’re still praying, and that’s what truly matters.
The Bible’s “rules” on prayer are pretty simple. We don’t have any hard-and-fast rules on formulas, duration, or posture. Most of us aren’t required to use prayer mats. We don’t need to figure out which direction is east. However, Jesus did make a big deal about persistence in prayer (Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-8). Prayer is an exercise in persistence. Don’t give up.
There are all kinds of ways to effect change in our world. There are millions of means for spreading the gospel, for sharing the name of Christ, for helping the poor, for feeding the hungry, and for combating the evils of sex trafficking. But all of these efforts come back to one crucial activity — prayer.
We are powerless apart from prayer. God answers prayer. He delights to do it! He longs to hear his people pray. So go forward. Start a prayer group.
Daniel Threlfall has been writing church ministry articles for more 10 years. With his background and training (M.A., M.Div.), Daniel is passionate about inspiring pastors and volunteers in their service to the King. Daniel is devoted to his family, nerdy about SEO, and drinks coffee with no cream or sugar. Learn more about Daniel at his blog and twitter.