Top ten tips on leading a time of prayer

A friend recently asked me for advice on leading a time of prayer. Here’s what I came up with. The context they assume is a small group, Bible study or gospel community. But you could adapt them for other contexts.

  1. Say that anyone can pray, but nobody has to pray.
  2. Suggest people keep their prayers short, but don’t wait for others.
  3. Don’t get people praying in groups if unbelievers are present so they are not pressured into praying before they are ready.
  4. Suggest people pray for one thing at a time (but pray more than once) and encourage people to listen to others so the time of prayer has the feel of a conversation.
  5. Invite people to identify matters for thanks as well as matters for request.
  6. If people are poor at giving thanks, split the time into a time of praise and thanksgiving and a time for prayers of request.
  7. Invite people to pray through the passage, reading a verse or two at a time and suggesting people respond in thanks, praise, confession or request as appropriate.
  8. Use any discussion of prayer needs to reinforce a gospel culture and gospel priorities. You can doing this asking how we should pray for a need that it is raise or what we’re going to ask God for.
  9. Avoid spending a lot of time discussing what we might pray for and no much time actually praying – our job is not to problem-solve each issue, but to present it before God.
  10. Don’t let a time of prayer drag on – leave people wanting more not less.