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If you have ever been part of a small group whether it is Bible study or Sunday School, then you’ve been through the typical church prayer time. I can’t speak for you, but I have found it, well, disappointing. Can I say that?

 

You may wonder why I feel this way. It’s because I have a growing disdain for praying for other’s prayer list. We do the same thing over and over in prayer meetings – we share the prayer needs of those on our prayer lists. I guess it is much easier to request prayer for someone other than ourselves unless we are sick, isn’t it? But what good does it do us individually to ask others to pray for our personal prayer list? Very little.
[tweetthis]Let the body of #Christ get real with each other and #pray for one another. @TheGinaDuke #Church[/tweetthis]
James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed…”, but who is doing this? The sad truth is that even though we may be in a small group of believers, we often will not share our own struggles nor ask others to pray for us.

 
To tell the truth, once an established small group develops the common practice of praying over each other’s prayer lists instead of each other, it is hard to correct. It would take the leader bringing awareness to the matter, introducing new ground rules and holding the group accountable during prayer time. Although, this sounds easy enough, it’s highly unlikely that many Sunday School teachers or small group leaders will do this. Few people like change, and even less like to lead it.

 

 

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This is why you may want to consider getting a prayer partner – someone you can depend upon to specifically pray for you. When establishing your prayer partnership, here are the choices you will need to make:

  1. Choosing a Christian of the same sex that you feel comfortable sharing intimate details with. They must also be very trustworthy and looking for the same type of prayer partnership.
  2. Choosing a place and time that is agreeable for the two of you to meet on a regular basis. If you have very difficult schedules, there is no reason why you cannot do this by phone.
  3. Choosing your format for your time together. Will you share scripture? Will you start with sharing a praise and then prayer needs? Will you pray over everything at once or will you pray in separate stages of your meeting time?
  4. Choosing a method for keeping up with prayer needs and God’s accomplishment. Few of us are good at remembering to pray for other’s needs, so journaling your prayer journey together will not only be a great help, but enjoyable, too.

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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mom and the Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, she is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. If you would like to schedule Gina to speak on prayer or host a prayer journaling workshop, click here for more information. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.

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9 Comments

  1. Gina, so glad you have “called out the church” on this one! I had the great privilege of being in a small prayer group for about 4 years. It was a new experience for me – I cried the first time they prayed over me – and it changed me forever. I looked forward to those weekly meeting and hated to miss. There is great comfort in knowing your fellow Sisters are lifting your fears, worries, and concerns before the Lord. All of your tips are great! I especially like #3 – we had a written format that kept us on task. It helped us focus on our purpose and encouraged us to save the chatting/socializing until after our time of prayer. Thank you for your boldness and great prayer suggestions!

    1. Thanks, Cyndee! Our women’s Sunday School class is about to start one of those prayer meetings you were talking about and I am excited about it. Thank you for your kind words!!! ~gina

  2. I think it is wonderful when you can find a person or persons to share your personal struggles and prayer needs with. The depth and level of personal sharing is based on trust. And trust is something that must be developed with prayer and discernment itself. I think that a small group or prayer partner is the situation for those types of things. I do not think it wise, nor necessary for the entire church or Sunday school to be witness for some of these very personal prayer requests. I have been in situations where a man addressed a large group confessing lust “even for some here” and asking for prayer and every woman in the room suddenly looked as though she wanted to disappear in the floor…not to mention the awkwardness towards his wife. So… I think discernment is needed in large groups.

    That said, I also think that it is a privilege to share the burden of someone else’s prayer list. We are to bear one another’s burdens which is much different than just an airing of the latest gossip. Which, I am sure happens in some places.

    When there is a need in my life….the life of a loved one…..the life of another believer whom I may not know…..I want God’s people praying. He hears the prayers of the righteous. And I am not concerned whose list it is.

    Of course we all have different experiences and I can only speak about my own, while respecting another’s point of view. I do agree that it is very difficult and risky to admit needs in our own lives and especially admit where we need help spiritually. It is a blessing if one can find someone they trust to become a prayer partner.

    1. Debbie, I love your points. You are right on. In a larger small group such as a Sunday School class, I do believe we can wisely phrase our need for prayer when dealing with something highly serious and personal. I might say that I am really struggling with something negative and need prayer instead of disclosing that it is pornography, for instance. Especially, when we are in a group with both genders I agree with you that we need to be more discreet.

      As for the list comment, I am seeing a lot of list sharing without any “please pray for me”…and, it feels very much mechanical and less authentic. Basically, we are checking the box that we prayed for people, and it is not as authentic or real as truly praying for those we know and want God’s best for. Sure, I want God’s best for my Sunday School’s classmate Sue’s, brother’s wife’s aunt, but I also want to pray for Sue when she needs me, too. I am afraid that when the common practice in a small group is to pray for all these distant relatives and co-workers it creates a climate where no one feels comfortable sharing what’s going on with them when no one else does. I would rather pray over someone’s shared “dirty laundry” than people I don’t even know. Think of my comment as not an “instead of”, but an “addition to”.

      I really appreciate your insight. You are a wise woman, and I bet you make a great prayer partner, too! ~gina

      1. Gina,

        I was a bit nervous posting what I did, but I pretended you were sitting here with me and I typed just what I would have said. So…. thank you for clarifying your points. I totally agree with what you put in your reply to me. And aside from other examples that I will not mention here….the one that I wrote about actually happened “in church”….yep….whole congregation with kids and tweens and everything….yeah….very uncomfortable….very difficult to rein in the wandering thoughts of “who??”….ick.

        Anyway, I do appreciate you clearing it up for me. I analyze everything to the “nth” degree instead of just focusing on the obvious…I think about all of the “what about…”

        And yes, I have also experienced the mechanical list sharing as well…..

        And…..I have discovered that being real in the “right group of people” is very necessary for spiritual growth…..

        it’s knowing the difference that makes all the difference

        thanks for not getting mad at me….:::::: i seem to care too much what other people think about me::::::maybe you could pray for me?…..yes. I’m serious.

        great post.

        1. Debbie, Debbie, Debbie…I’m glad you shared your points. I will be glad to pray for you, too. I think our dialogue helped clarify the issues with praying in small groups. I like that you said that it is important to be real in the right group…Amen, sister! And, I wish we were sitting on the couch together discussing prayer; I would really enjoy that. 🙂

  3. Gina, I love a champion of prayer. You provided such beautiful tips for the important prayer partner relationship! And I’m so glad you included prayer journaling, as I have found that to be another way God gets the glory – when I look back and see how He answered prayers and can then share that with others!!

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