‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’… Matthew 21:13.
Research shows that prayer groups are of great importance in churches, communities and the preparation for, as well as the progress of revival. It is perhaps the most important element of revival and spiritual progress of the gospel in communities.
This type of praying is done in prayer groups, also sometimes called prayer cells or home prayer groups. It usually starts with one or two people who establish a prayer group and then these prayer groups start to multiply, sometimes growing to dozens and often to hundreds of small prayer groups. This happened in almost all the revivals in history, or at least in over 90% of all cases. Many churches testify about the great influence of prayer groups in their churches.
The multiplication of small prayer groups has proved to be the simplest and most effective strategy for saturating towns, cities and a nation with prayer, and mobilising prayer for renewal and revival in the church. Let us fill our communities, towns, cities and the nation with prayer groups!
The purpose of prayer groups
Prayer groups help to focus on the presence of God. Secondly, they encourage prayer for specific needs of people and lastly, they help us to persevere in prayer until there are specific breakthroughs and victory against the attacks of the evil one
How to start a prayer group
Individuals or prayer group leaders start by inviting other Christians to join them in prayer. Any Christian can join such a group and it is never exclusive to a few individuals with a special gift of intercession. It is important to organise a prayer meeting in such a way that all the members will feel comfortable to participate.
- A typical prayer group can be made up of 3-10 people, but groups can be larger as well.
- The focus is to saturate communities with prayer, starting several groups in every corner of that community!
- It serves to be of great encouragement for all individual prayer groups in an area to occasionally gather corporately.
- Groups can be led by one person acting as the leader or facilitator of the group. Such a person needs no special skills, but to have a heart for prayer and for God’s presence in their community. The focus will be to facilitate prayer from Scripture and learning how to listen and pray God’s heart every time they gather.
- The leader/facilitator must take special care to remain in contact with prayer group members to ensure they receive prayer information when they are not gathering and to keep them motivated to pray continuously.
Where to start prayer groups
Start with what you have. It is wonderful if a prayer group can be made up of individuals who represent or are involved in different spheres of society; every local church, neighbourhood, complex, street, office block, factory, school, police station, corporate business, bank, small business, university, college, nursing home, etc.
You can invite individuals from your local congregation to be part of a prayer group. Several prayer groups can operate within one congregation itself as well, e.g. supporting different ministries within the congregation.
It is wise to equip a prayer group in terms of teaching and mentoring. It is important for prayer groups to learn more of the different facets of prayer. This will help to diminish the possibility of friction, disagreements and deception from creeping in. It facilitates a teachable spirit that is needed to counter error, false teaching and pride. It is important to create opportunities where prayer groups can be equipped and guided to also deepen their personal prayer lives. Individuals learn how to pray in specific situations, as well as broaden their understanding of the challenges and extent of the prayer responsibility of the church.
Once a prayer group is well established, a process can be started towards the multiplication of prayer groups. One way to facilitate multiplication is to ask each member of an existing group to consider starting a separate group with people they know. Multiplication is not necessarily splitting any existing group into two or three new groups. An individual can remain part of a current prayer group, while simultaneously planting a next group. They do not have to leave the original group. Pray though, that God will work in and prepare the hearts of those individuals who do need to leave an existing group.
What to pray
There are no limitations on the variety of things that can and must be prayed about. Every group will decide their prayer focus by following the leading of the Holy Spirit. The following list may serve as a guideline to help determine an initial prayer focus.
|· A personal deeper walk with God||· Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists|
|· The unsaved||· Spiritual revival in the church|
|· The unreached & missionaries||· Families and marriages|
|· Abortion||· Violence, corruption, murder|
|· The economy of the country||· People involved in the occult|
|· The local church||· Your workplace|
|· Your own ministry in the church||· Corruption|
|· The government||· The media|
|· The youth||· Prisoners|
|· The judicial system||· Revival in your church|
|· People struggling with emotional pain, bitterness, forgiveness||· Discipline in schools and the education system|
|· Use newspapers, the radio and TV to help you understand the basic social needs of people and the challenges that society faces||· Personal repentance, holiness, brokenness and surrender|
Sometimes individuals feel burdened to pray about specific issues such as human trafficking, abortion, domestic violence or substance abuse, or specifically for reaching the lost and the salvation of the unreached. Their prayer group can then cover those issues in prayer.
There is something particularly powerful about existing prayer groups across denominational borders in a city or town, occasionally meeting for corporate prayer. They will share testimonies and encourage each other to hear what God is doing across denominations in their area. They may even consider joint prayer initiatives from time to time. Prayer groups reach their full potential when they not only function as individual groups, but when a corporate feel and focus for an area settles among them.
Keep the following in mind
- Look for at least one person with whom you can pray (i.e. people in your workplace or among your friends. Then ask others to join you in prayer, contacting them one by one.
- Start by praying together once a week. Sometimes people want to meet more than once a week.
- If you have established a prayer group in the marketplace, ensure that the prayer meeting is held either before work or during a tea break or lunchtime.
- Please do not organise speakers for the prayer meetings; focus on prayer itself. Speakers often preach, which may discourage prayer and you may find after a while that nobody is attending any more.
- During the meeting, you can focus on specific issues. Read some relevant Scripture verses. Make one or two short comments about that (do not spend more than 5 minutes on this).
- Allow time if someone wants to share what he or she learned about prayer. It is often helpful to give time for 1-2 testimonies of answers to prayer, stressing that it should be a testimony and not a sermon.
- Give opportunity to share prayer requests without praying ONLY for personal needs.
- First complete the prayer time and then have times of fellowship afterwards.
- Encourage each one in the group to pray for the salvation of at least 3-10 people (friends, family, colleagues, etc.)
- Be focused. Decide beforehand on things that you want to pray about.
- It is of great value to set aside time at the beginning of the prayer meeting to listen to the Lord and then pray about the matters that are shown by the Holy Spirit.
- Encourage people to pray Scripture. There are a variety of books available on this topic that are very effective to provide guidelines on what to pray about. Several booklets are also available that list promises found in Scripture.
Please note: This is only a shortened version of the full article. To read the full article, you can download the PDF below.