Why prayer? This might seem like a strange question. Everyone knows prayer is one of the basic building blocks of just about any religious faith. It stands to reason it would be a central feature of life in a Community Group, right? But as we begin this series of posts on prayer, it's worth taking a step back to address some fundamentals.
Answering "why prayer?" will help you develop a clear understanding of what's at stake if your group doesn't experience a rich prayer life. I couldn't possibly write an exhaustive list of reasons why prayer is important to every group, but here are three major ones:
- Sharing prayer requests builds community. One of the central purposes of Community Group is to be an environment where people can experience accountability, belonging, and care. Sharing prayer requests helps in the development of each of those building blocks of authentic community. Sharing prayer requests and celebrating answered prayers together also drives relationships deeper.
- Prayer is an opportunity to invite God into the group. When we pray, we open a line of communication between ourselves and God. It's not that he's passive, waiting for us to initiate communication. It's that prayer is a way of inclining our hearts and mind toward God and acknowledging our dependence on him. By doing this is a Community Group setting, we invite his involvement in the growth and development of the group.
- Prayer creates opportunities to see God work. Few things blow up our faith like seeing God answer prayer. Praying as a group multiplies this effect. If a group member asks God for help getting out of debt and a year later he's out of debt, that's exciting. But what's even more exciting is if the group spent that year praying alongside that group member. Then, God didn't just answer the group member's prayer; he answered the prayers of everyone in the group. Everyone's faith grows as a result of God's faithfulness. Group prayer also ensures we don't miss God's answers to our prayers. Sometimes frustration and disappointment can blind us to the way God is working in our lives. We completely miss what he's up to. Other people may see what we can't and point us in the direction of God's faithfulness.
Each of these reasons for group prayer is about setting the stage for God to work in our lives through the Community Group experience. There's a lot at stake if prayer isn't a regular and significant part of your group meetings.
Starting next week, we'll talk about some common barriers to group prayer and how to overcome them. In the meantime, enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday . . . and know that we're thankful for all you do each week to lead the people in your groups so well.