One of the challenges of leading a Bible study group is managing the time dedicated to prayer requests. I bet you’ve been a part of a group where prayer requests seemed to take a lot of the group’s time. Don’t get me wrong—I’m a big fan of prayer! But as group leaders, you and I must learn to manage the limited time we have with our group members. In order to devote time in the group to Bible study, fellowship, prayer, and other activities, consider the following ways to manage your group’s prayer requests:
1. Divide them up. Often times I will write prayer requests on the marker board in my group’s meeting place at the church. Then I ask group members to volunteer to pray for just one of the requests out loud.
2. Pass them out. Use index cards (one per person) and ask group members to write down their prayer requests. Then ask them to write their name and contact information on the card as well and place the cards in a basket. Pass the basket around the group, asking volunteers to take one of the index cards, pray for the need, and then contact the person during the week to let them know their request is being prayed for.
3. Email them later. After hearing your group member’s prayer requests (and writing them down, of course), set aside time after your group’s Bible study and send out the requests via email. Send a follow-up email later in the week to make sure none of the requests slipped through the cracks.
4. Pray in groups. It can be intimidating to pray out loud in a big group, so consider dividing your group into smaller ones, maybe no more than 4-6 people, for the purpose of sharing requests with each other.
5. Pray in the round. If your group members normally sit in a circle, and if they’ve been together for a while, it might be a good idea to ask each person to pray out loud in turn. Everyone has a chance to voice a prayer request, and everyone in the group gets to listen to the conversations others are having with their Heavenly Father.
How does your Bible study group handle the prayer requests of its members? Share your wisdom and practices with the rest of us!
Ken Braddy is Manager of Lifeway’s Adult Ongoing Bible Studies and has served as an education pastor and executive pastor for 18 years, prior to his role at Lifeway. He leads a weekly Bible study at his church, blogs regularly on the topic of Sunday School and small groups, and co-authored the book 3 Roles For Guiding Groups. He has written hundreds of leadership articles and trained group leaders across the country. Ken is a native Texan, loves tex-mex, and wishes he had his 1978 Camaro back. Follow him on his blog at kenbraddy.com.