Today’s Resource: Prayer Tip – Drawing From The Hat

Do you wish that your Small Group members would participate more often during prayer?

Part of shepherding your Small Group includes teaching and encouraging people to grow in their faith through prayer. This next year at Harvest has been declared a Year Of Extraordinary Prayer. 

Sometimes people are afraid to pray out loud. They fear saying the wrong thing, being judged by others, not being eloquent enough…they think, “I can’t pray as good as that other person.” Others come from a strong tradition that never gave them the freedom to pray in front of other people. They don’t know how to pray and maybe they don’t understand why. They are content to let the small group leader or the ‘extra spiritual person(s)’ in the group do all the praying. We try to create a predictable and safe environment in our Small Groups to help people grow in their faith, including prayer. Small Groups are a great place to encourage people to take the next step in their relationship with God through prayer.

Here’s an idea to try, it’s simple but effective. I’ve used this successfully during ministry meetings and it resulted in 100% participation.

  1. Write simple prayer requests on small pieces of paper; provide a topic and a sentence, or two, of what to pray for. For example – “CHURCH MINISTRIES – ask God to equip all of our ministry leaders this Sunday as they prepare to share His love and teach people about the Bible; ask God to give them wisdom and joy as they serve.”
  2. Have each person select one piece of paper from a hat or bowl; this creates a sense of equality and does not put people on the spot; everybody is picking an unknown request from the hat and the leader is not dictating who’s praying for what.
  3. Choose a person to start and a person to close the prayer time; let your group know that silence is OK and have the closer end your time of prayer after everybody has prayed for the topic they picked. Hopefully this will allow people who normally don’t pray out loud to actually do it.
  4. Encourage your people; when your group is done praying let them know that you were blessed and that God heard their prayers!

A couple of thoughts before you implement this idea: 1) do not tell them in advance that you are asking or expecting each person to pray out loud, just go through the steps and let it happen; 2) do not lecture the group about the importance of praying out loud, this will likely inhibit them. You’ll find that your group will respond to your leadership without you having to put them on the spot – just let it flow.  And 3)  modify the above steps to fit your group, you know them best.

People will appreciate having a written prayer to read, others will expand on the topic and add their own ‘heart’ to the prayer. In either situation God will be pleased and you will help bring people to a place of meaningful prayer through a simple piece of paper and the intentional exercise of preparation to help shepherd your Small Group. If possible, try to compose prayers around a uniting theme. In future meetings ask another person who has the gift of prayer to help you with this, delegate this responsibility accordingly to include others. This will bring continuity to your group’s prayer time and allow each person to contribute equally.

I hope this simple idea is a good tool for leading your Small Group. It’s very rewarding to see a person’s confidence increase as a result of being an effective Small Group leader. If you have any questions please let me know. I would be very encouraged to hear your Small Group stories too – please let me know what your “victories” are and how your people are growing spiritually – let’s continue to encourage one another! Thanks for shepherding your Small Group and being open to becoming a more effective Small Group leader.


2 thoughts on “Small Group Tip: Draw From The Hat

  1. This is an excellent suggestion! I like the idea of breaking the ice on verbal prayer by just doing it. Small group is THE PLACE to be encouraged, loved & cared for. The environment is the perfect place for that brand new skill to begin. That’s where I said my very first “out loud in a group” prayer. And I still remember the small group who encouraged me (Thanks Brad & Linda Allen and that small group).

  2. Praying aloud can be very intimidating – especially after having others wax eloquent (and at great length) in their prayers. And, if you have come from a church background where “people” don’t pray (church setting) or the prayers are rote (sic – LOL), it may seem weird. Just realize you don’t have to pray for minutes or on a dozen topics. Simply thanking God for who He is is perfect! Then, build from there.

    Remember the Paul encourages us to pray continually. What a goal to strive for! Keep your mind on everything going on around you. Read your bible to know what God’s will is. His plan is perfect and it will be accomplished. Thank God for everything He has provided for you because He knows exactly what you need and when you need it.

    That’s the prayer I prayed when someone asked me to pray that they get a motorcycle (no, not Harley-specific, Brian).

    Then, contemplate the Lord’s prayer. Jesus taught us to pray
    Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

    And the admonition:
    For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

    So, your prayers can be powerful or powerless.

    Remembering that God knows all of our needs and provides for them actually makes prayer simple. So, just relax, take a breath, and start simple!

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