By Johnnie Haines
Without clearly established boundaries, a Bible study can easily turn into a prayer group. Train the women in your group to put prayer requests or comments through these four approval gates: Is it true? confidential? kind? necessary? Sometimes the less said, the better.
The following suggestions work well for handling group prayer requests. Perhaps you can build on the ideas that match your group’s temperament.
1. Take the first or last 10 minutes of the small-group time to share requests while each member makes her own list. Establish time guidelines so members have equal but reasonable time. Make requests in 10 words or less. Pray only for immediate family or friends or change the parameter of concerns each meeting. Pray not only for physical healing but also for spiritual needs and people’s growth points. Ask specific persons to pray, thus keeping control of the time.
2. Spend more time praying than talking about it.
3. Have one volunteer record the group’s requests on a prepared form that can be updated and e-mailed to everyone after the meeting. Include the date, the request, an update, and when a note was sent. Although it can be a little more work, this form is very effective for several reasons. It allows you to record and see the answers God is providing. This system informs those who might be absent from the group and encourages them to pray also. We are all guilty of praying without expecting answers. Teach women to pray expectantly.
4. Another system is to arrive with your prayer request in written form. Again, establish guidelines concerning the length of the requests as well as the boundaries for persons and requests. Instruct group members to place requests in a designated container and then allow the small-group leader or prayer leader to take them home. The leader sorts the requests and sends an e-mail to small-group members. Or you might have each person draw out one request to pray for during the next week.
5. Social media sites can get prayer requests out to many in a short period of time, but be careful about sharing someone else’s request in such a public way unless you have permission.
6. Occasionally during a group study, someone may voice an urgent need or concern. Stop right then and take it to the Lord in prayer. Then proceed with your study. Taking the time to pray assures that person of your support.
This article is excerpted from Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level compiled by Chris Adams.
Johnnie Haines is a Christian motivational speaker who has spent more than 25 years encouraging and equipping women to be all God has called them to be. She has served as director of women’s ministries in both Texas and Mississippi.