How to Breathe Life into Small Group Prayer

Say hello to a women’s leader who knows how to engage small groups in vibrant prayer. I’m grateful Maresa DePuy is lending her expertise on the Leader Connection. She explains how she energizes her groups around the priority of prayer. Don’t miss the bonus content at the end of the post, which includes twelve group prayer formats that eliminate boring prayer meetings. What powerful prayer methods have you discovered? Let’s get the conversation started! —Leslie Bennett, Women’s Ministry Initiatives   

We sat in a circle, with eyes closed and heads bowed, listening to Sally, a fellow ministry leader, spout eloquent paragraphs. The group seemed to track with her for the first few minutes, but after a while, I began a mental inventory of my freezer, hoping to dream up something for dinner that night. By the time Sally finished her prayer, a long pause hung in the air. I had forgotten what I wanted to pray about when the meeting began. I sensed the shifting of bodies around me and wondered if others had grown impatient with the prayer monologue. No one dared speak next. Perhaps they’d also lost their focus or felt underqualified to follow a long-winded pray-er who’d been interceding with Scriptures for over thirty years. The next few times the group met, the numbers dwindled, until only a small core remained to continue the one-sided prayer meetings. 

Prayer meetings like this happen regularly in North American churches, and yet, when we examine the prayer rhythms of the Acts church, they are far from boring. When fresh-out-of-prison Peter knocked on the door of Mary’s house, where “many were gathered together and were praying” (Acts 12:12), I highly doubt their gathering resembled Sally’s meeting. Acts 1:14 states, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Another translation reads, “they all joined together constantly in prayer.” The Greek root word for one accord, homothumadon, meaning “with one mind, unanimously, at the same time,” reveals more about the atmosphere of these prayer times. Praying with one accord was a habit that this vibrant community of Christ followers embraced. It was part of their regular rhythm. 

We can’t be completely certain what these prayer meetings sounded like or what format was used. But it’s safe to assume these new believers were anything but bored as they implored God to send angels to open the prison gates for their brother, Peter. I’m certain things really ramped up when Peter knocked on the door!

What women’s ministry leader doesn’t crave prayer that awakens heart revival, rather than driving women to mentally edit their Target shopping list? Few, if any of us, would deny prayer’s value. But if we as a community of leaders are brutally honest, is group prayer as high of a priority to us as recruiting and shepherding leaders, teaching and training, or casting vision? In the hustle and bustle of the daily work of ministry, prayer can easily fall to the bottom of the task list. This is especially true when group prayer is viewed as boring and ineffective. And yet, when spiritual giants are asked to reflect on their ministry years and identify one thing they would do differently, their answers are often the same. You guessed it. Many confess, “I would pray more.” 

How might we encourage our groups to see and value prayer as Jesus did and rely on it as a regular, dynamic rhythm of ministry? By remembering its benefits. Let’s look at four reasons why praying together is a ministry practice you’ll want to prioritize.

Four Benefits of Group Prayer

1. It deepens our dependence on God. 

When God’s children take time to pray together, we demonstrate with our actions what we claim to believe. God is on the throne. Deciding to lay down our methods, strategies, and solutions before God is an act of humility that acknowledges our deficiency and God’s all-sufficiency. Groups who make key leadership decisions or who desire to change hearts through a ministry dare not attempt such sacred work without calling on the power of God. What better way to demonstrate our dependence than to approach God together and ask Him to do that which we simply cannot?

2. It demystifies the mysterious.

Bowing our hearts to God together shows the watching world (and the prayerless church) that praying is not super-complicated. Since the beginning of time, people have prayed. And yet, many, many believers still struggle to wrap their minds around the mystery of this universal practice. Doing prayer removes our own resistance and wrong thinking that hinders unceasing prayer.

How much easier is a laborious project when tackled with a team? Praying together focuses energy into projects or problems that feel way too overwhelming for one person. Group prayer motivates us to be persistent in our petitions, and the practice of prayer becomes a bit less awkward. When we hear, see, and do Spirit-filled prayer within groups, it becomes simpler and more practical than we thought and yields more power than we dared imagine.

3. It deploys God’s power.

As we continue to pray together and God begins to move, the impact of our prayers multiplies. We begin to witness God answering specific prayers. The more specific we are, the greater the opportunity is for the group to recognize the way in which God answered. God delights in answering the prayers of His children (Matt. 7:11). God also delights when we delight in His answers. Group prayer enables us to corporately tap into God’s storehouse of power and pump up the praise when we see Him moving in response to what we’ve asked. 

4. It draws us near God and one another.

The morning I wrote this post, I prayed with three friends and heard their quiet confessions. My own heart was pierced as my sister prayed for a more supple heart. I was drawn to her humility and to God as I considered my own callousness in ministry. I confessed how I’d failed to see a situation through Christ’s lens of gentle compassion. When God’s children join their hearts in prayer, bonds of friendship and intimacy form, and facades fade away. It’s no coincidence that I’ve been praying with this particular group of women for ten years. The old adage has proven true: groups that pray together stay together. 

Praying in groups amplifies our sinless Savior’s many worthy attributes, shifting our gaze from our sin to Him. As your community of friends, leaders, or Bible students gather to speak to God, each praise or request will highlight different aspects of His character. One will count on His power, another will call on His faithfulness, still another will remember how He can redeem any life from the pit. This helps our hearts grasp a fuller and more robust view of our loving, mighty God, resulting in perhaps the most glorious benefit of group prayer. “[Prayer is not] merely a way to get things from God but as a way to get more of God himself,” pastor and author Timothy Keller wrote.1 

In James 5:16, we are instructed to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Why not put this biblical imperative to the test? 

Think about an area of your ministry that could use a fresh filling of God’s power. What chains might fall off of marriages? What strongholds could be broken? What healings could take place, if only you as a leader would choose to lead more of your women to engage in effective group prayer? 

Father God,

Help me to prioritize praying together as part of my model of ministry. Give me eyes to see supernatural openings for group prayer. Embolden me and those in my sphere of influence to embrace prayer as a regular rhythm and pattern for ministry. In my rearview mirror of ministry, may I be utterly astonished at all You’ve accomplished through prayer for the sake of Your kingdom. 

Have your way through prayer, Lord Jesus. In Your powerful name we pray, Amen.

Need some group prayer formats to eliminate boring prayer meetings and breathe new life into your women’s groups? Download a PDF of group prayer formats

1 Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Dutton, 2014), 21.

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

Our team loves sharing quality posts to help you serve Christ to the fullest in your calling. If you have been helped or encouraged by this writer today, would you consider giving a few dollars to support the Leader Connection blog?

Leave a Gift of $5 or More

About the Author

Maresa DePuy

Maresa DePuy

Maresa DePuy has served in women’s and prayer ministry for over fifteen years. She loves walking with women toward Christ, writing about her faith, and anything that combines these pursuits. Maresa resides just outside of Charleston, SC where she lives on mission in a soon-to-be empty nest as a wife to one and mom to two while overseeing women’s discipleship at a church she adores.

Related Posts