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:
- Assign the prayer requests. Oftentimes, I will write prayer requests on the marker board in my group’s meeting place at the church. I then ask group members to volunteer to pray for just one of the requests out loud.
- Use “the basket method.” Use index cards (one per person) and ask group members to write down their prayer requests, write their name and contact information on the card, and place them 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.
- Pray in smaller groups. It can be intimidating to pray out loud in a big group, so consider dividing your group into smaller groups, maybe 4-6 people max, for the purpose of sharing requests and praying.
- 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 (if I write them down on a marker board, I simply use my smartphone to capture a picture of the requests). That way, everyone in the group will have a current list of the group’s prayer requests.
- Use email to generate the prayer requests. On occasion when I can see that the Bible study is going to run long, I will say something like, “I’ll send an email to the group later today, and summarize the study for us and those who were not here today. If you have a prayer need this week, just “reply all” and let us know what it is. We’ll jump into action and begin praying for you.” I then control the length of the prayer time by simply praying for the Lord’s blessing on the group, our study time together, and those not present. When I’m running short on time, this allows me to complete the Bible study, but still make sure that people’s prayer requests are prayed for during the week.
Ken Braddy manages Lifeway’s Ongoing Bible studies, leads his church’s groups ministry, and blogs daily on Sunday School and small groups at kenbraddy.com.