Hey Small Group Leaders,
We are continuing our reflection on the seven rhythms of Rooted or the rhythms of a Jesus follower. Last month we tackled Daily Devotion, and this month, we will explore the rhythm of prayer. If ever there was a perfect word to capture the experience of prayer, it is “rhythm” … the back-and-forth, ebb-and-flow of a life lived next to the heartbeat of God.
What’s interesting is that all of us know intellectually how important prayer is. We know how often people in the bible prayed, especially Jesus! Most of us are inspired by those people who prioritize prayer, and sometimes maybe we are even a little envious of how easily some people seem to hear the voice of God. So why are so many believers secretly discouraged with their prayer life? According to church studies, half of all believers say they have not experienced a genuine connection with God in the past year. Yikes!
YET, God has created us with a hunger for encounters with Him. Deep within, we know there is another dimension of Christian living, and we know it has something to do with the time that we spend with God. Many of us, if we are honest, are tired of feeling bored, confused, frustrated, and ineffective in our prayer. This is true for our personal prayer lives as well as the way we pray in our small groups.
One of my favorite authors on prayer, Daniel Henderson, suggests that we need to check our motivation for prayer if we want to grow. He said, “the enduring motive for prayer is that God is worthy to be sought” just for who He is. Don’t we, instead, often seek God for what He can do for us? Henderson uses a beautiful metaphor to bring perspective. He says that instead of focusing on request-based prayers, what if we began to practice worship-based prayers? Here’s an easy way to tell the difference:
Worship-based prayer seeks the face of God before the hand of God. God’s face is the essence of who He is. God’s hand is the blessing of what He does.
This is not to suggest that we should not ask God for things. Prayer requests and intercession is an incredibly important dimension of our prayer life, but when it is the primary or only way that we pray, then we are missing the development of relationship, the rhythm of that intimacy with God.
I invite you to take a look not only at your personal prayer life, but also at the way you pray in small groups. This is not an exercise in criticism at all! It is just something that we need to keep our eye on as we lead others in this part of the spiritual journey. Modeling and leading in prayer is at least as important as the curriculum that you study and the community that you create. If your group is heavy on intercession and request or if you always close your time together with the same type of prayer, that’s what your group members will learn and understand about prayer. We can’t assume that prayer happens at any other time, so what we do in our groups is pretty important.
Here are some thoughts of some ways that you can get them before the face of God:
- WORSHIP!!! – Put on some videos from Hillsong, Elevation, Bethel or many others to open hearts to the presence of God
- Lead them in a time of confession (not public admission, just a time to reflect on behavior or thought patterns that are keeping them from a full experience of God!)
- Share communion as a group
- Pray a passage of scripture together
- For those who have not prayed aloud, ask each person to thank God for one thing (one word or short phrase answers). This is something almost everyone can do without feeling afraid.
- Do some creative reflection on the names or attributes of God.
- Lead them in a guided meditation
- Stop and pray during a meeting when someone has a need! Lay hands on people and pray.
- Give them a short scripture passage to reflect on and then journal about. Share what God spoke.
- Take an entire meeting and create a prayer experience instead of studying material. Do some of the above or create prayer stations where different things happen at each space. Allow for private quiet time. Many of your members NEVER have an extended quiet space with God. It will be a gift to them!
- Don’t say NO for your group members and assume they will be uncomfortable. We learned in Rooted that the prayer experience was the best night for many, many people. Also, if they are a little uncomfortable, you are doing a GREAT job. Nobody grows without getting out of our comfort zones.
So be encouraged to try another level of praying as a follower and as a leader! And as you experience a regular rhythm of His presence, you will begin to see things change as you continue being filled by the spirit of God and empowered in ways that you may never have believed were possible. Prayer changes things!!!!
For more content from Dan Henderson, check out
Fresh Encounters or