Tuesday, April 21, 2020

6 Ways to do Prayer During Online Small Groups (Part 1)

Whether through times of celebration, times of lament, or anywhere in between, prayer is essential to the Christian life, and engaging in this vital spiritual discipline allows us to spend time with our Lord and build a deeper relationship with Him. Over two weeks, let us unpack 6 different ways you can do prayer during your online small groups (3 will be reviewed each week).

Leader prayer
Just as we see in John 17 when Jesus prays over His disciples, Leader Prayer is when the group leader is the individual who prays over the group. Some group leaders may use this method too sparingly, arguing that a small group is the best opportunity to train up church members in becoming comfortable with the practice of leading prayer. On the other end of the spectrum, some group leaders may use this method too frequently, out of a fear of scaring some of their group members who may not be ready to lead the group in prayer. Naturally, the best recommendation is found to be in the middle of the road. If the group is short on time or if the group members are feeling spiritually burdened that particular week, perhaps it may be beneficial for the group leader to pray over the group. A balanced strategy I have often used in the past is when I open the group meeting in prayer and then invite other group members to close the group in prayer.

Praying Over a Single Word
If interested in trying something new with the group, Praying Over a Single Word can be a method of prayer that, when used strategically, can become very powerful. After taking a moment for reflection, each person types one word and sends it as a private message to the group leader (Most online meeting software programs allow for direct/private messaging within the meeting). This single word is actually a prayer request, and only God and the person who wrote it knows what that word represents and why the person is submitting it as a prayer request. From here, the group leader then assigns each word to different members while ensuring that each member does not receive their own word (If instead you are feeling more Spirit-led, offer each word to the group and allow the group members to volunteer themselves for one of the words as you read each aloud). Although unique, this method of prayer offers two benefits: first, this exercise grows our spiritual muscles and challenges us to think outside of the cliché go-to phrases that we typically use during prayer; second, the anonymity of the prayer requests help prevent any assumption or bias from entering the prayer, which can help increase the chance of powerful encounters with the Spirit.

Intercessory Prayer
Earlier this year, I mentioned an individual I know who had been blessed by a small group practicing Intercessory Prayer. Even though this person found Christ while alone in his apartment, he later discovered from one of his new Christian friends that there was a small group prayer meeting taking place at the same hour that he encountered the Lord, and that at this prayer meeting there was an entire room of people praying specifically for him! While the Holy Spirit may not move this quickly every time there is a prayer meeting, intercessory prayer nevertheless is powerful when we as a church body call upon the Lord and pray with a unified heart over another individual. Not only can it help us appeal directly to the Lord within the spiritual realm, but it can also positively impact our outward actions towards the individual when we interact with them in the physical realm.

Let's Connect! Follow on Twitter: @SeanBuono

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