Jesus taught the disciples to pray. Shouldn’t we do the same?
I’ve been in ministry for 36 years now. An unforgettable ministry conversation took place one afternoon after our Sunday gathering of Christ-followers. One of the small group leaders at our church was speaking with me about the growth he was seeing in his small group members. I was already on the edge of my seat, but when he told me about one of the members who had prayed aloud for the very first time the week prior, I was trounced on by a dancing heart. And as I was driving home that day, my tear ducts got into the game. You see, the “first time out-louder” the small group leader was telling me about has a fantastic wife and two incredible sons. During my drive home that afternoon, I realized that these young boys were going to grow up in a home where dad prayed for them at the dinner table, by their beds, on vacation, etc…The list could go on and on. And those kids will do with their own children what they have seen their dad do. Because a small group leader took the time and strategically was teaching his small group members to pray aloud, a mountain of believers for generations to come will know what it means to be prayed for by godly, caring parents, and as those children realize that God is real and alive, they will want to know about His Son Jesus and will most likely choose a relationship with Him.
It is vital that small group leaders teach those in our groups how to pray…aloud.
Below you’ll find a simple step-by-step process that will help you as you teach small group members how to pray aloud.
LEVEL ONE: The Leader prays and models conversational prayer. The term “conversational” is important. Exhibiting a preacher voice, speaking in old English terms, or sounding as though you’ve swallowed a pile of “oh, pity me’s” will only confuse the small group member who longs to have an authentic relationship with Jesus.
LEVEL TWO: The Leader asks for volunteers and sees who emerges after it has been modeled for a couple of weeks.
LEVEL THREE: The Leader calls on two people to pray who have been volunteering and then the leader closes in prayer.
LEVEL FOUR: The Leader leads the group to “Complete the Sentence.” This could be a sentence like, “God, this is ______, I want to thank you for________, or God, would you help with ________.” The leader lets everyone know that if you prefer to pray silently to God instead of out loud, just let the group know by squeezing the hand of the person next to you (if the group is that close) or say the word ‘Amen’ to indicate you are going to pray silently. This is for those who still haven’t gotten into voicing prayers aloud. This is a giant first step for them.
LEVEL FIVE: The group grows to the place where they can pray conversationally as a group using this method: A prayer request is shared and the group spends time praying “sentence prayers” about that specific request before moving on to the next prayer request.
You probably noticed that these are baby steps moving toward full-fledged paragraph prayers. In time, this will come naturally.