Saturday, September 05, 2009

Helping Conversational Prayer in Small Groups

One of the skills you should develop is the capability to foster conversational prayer in a group. I say 'skill' because there is some tactic to it, and you can foster it among others. Josh Hunt's explanation is as useful as anything I've seen:

"Conversational prayer is, well, like a conversation. Like a conversation. . .

* You don't go around the room and pray; you just pray one person at a time, in random order.
* You can pray as often as you like or not at all.
* Like a good conversation, there is balance but not symmetry in the participation. In other words, everyone is participating in a more or less balance way, but it is not like everyone is praying for exactly two minutes each.
* Some won't pray at all. That is fine. Just like in a conversation, some people prefer to listen more than talk. I have never been one of those people.
* If two people start praying at the same time, you do what you do in a conversation. One of you backs off. It is slightly awkward, but you get through it--just like in a conversation.
* The prayer tends to stay on topic, and then gradually shift to another. Say we start praying about an upcoming marriage retreat. Two or three or four people pray about that. Then there is a pause. People sense that we are finished talking (praying) about that. So, someone shifts the conversation to something else. Perhaps a couple more offer a sentence or two about that. Then the conversation with God moves on to something else.
* Just like a conversation, there is often short periods of silence. I usually warn people about that: "Don't be afraid of the silence. Just talk to God. Or just be still and know that He is God." We are so seldom still. We are so seldom quiet. Don't you love the verse that says, "Let all the earth keep silent before Him." We seldom obey that command.
* One person is assigned to wrap things up. This could be the group leader, or could be someone else.
* Try to minimize the time you spend sharing prayer requests. (If I remember right, Rinker suggests you don't spend ANY time in sharing prayer requests; just dive in to praying. Don't tell each other about the requests, just tell God, and let others listen.) As in many areas of life, balance is a good thing. I say, "minimize" the time you spend in prayer requests. Many groups spend far more time talking about prayer than they spend actually praying. Better to just dive into prayer, as Rinker suggests. But, I think there are some times when a prayer requests requires a little explanation. So, you might want to spend some time explaining things that need explaining."

Check out this article by Josh Hunt for more on conversational prayer.

Modeling this conversational prayer in a group will help everyone involved strengthen their prayer life. Prayer is 'more caught than taught.' Once people get a taste of interactive, plain spoken prayer as conversation with God, then it will carry over to other areas in their life.

No comments: