Many factors can restrict the growth and development of a Community Group's prayer life, but most of them fall into one of four categories. The first step in leading your group over, around, or through these barriers to great group prayer is being aware of them.
Here they are:
- Group members lack experience with prayer. Most Community Groups include members who have no experience with group prayer. In fact, some group members have no experience with prayer at all. Groups attract people from diverse religious backgrounds. Some group members have no religious background at all. Others come from a tradition where faith was kept private. It's not surprising that group members lack experience with prayer.
- The groups' prayers lack authenticity and depth. Shallow, inauthentic prayer definitely undermines a group's prayer life. That kind of drab prayer experience can be a result of a number of factors from people who never have prayer requests to those who dominate prayer time.
- The groups' prayer times lack structure and variety. Routine can be good. Many of us wouldn't be able to maintain physical fitness without the stability and predictability of habit. But the same characteristic of routine that provides stability—the ability to perform an action without giving it much thought—can rob a group's prayer time of its energy. By injecting a little change into the structure of your group's prayer time, such as altering the timing and format, you can keep things fresh and vital.
- The group doesn't follow through on prayer requests. Maybe the most important tip I can give you is to follow up on prayer requests. There's no better way to reinforce the value of group prayer than to ask members what has happened with their past requests.
Over the next few posts, I'll dig more deeply into each of these barriers and talk about ways that you can avoid or overcome them.