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.
- Say that anyone can pray, but nobody has to pray.
- Suggest people keep their prayers short, but don’t wait for others.
- Don’t get people praying in groups if unbelievers are present so they are not pressured into praying before they are ready.
- 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.
- Invite people to identify matters for thanks as well as matters for request.
- If people are poor at giving thanks, split the time into a time of praise and thanksgiving and a time for prayers of request.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t let a time of prayer drag on – leave people wanting more not less.