How do you pray effectively for each other in small group settings? Using a prayer sharing sheet is the secret to making sure that everyone in a group receives specific prayer for one of their personal problems or needs, even –
If time is short and there is not enough time to pray for everyone
If the group is too large for everyone to share
If members of the group are not comfortable praying out loud
The secret is in using and exchanging written requests and written prayers among group members.
How to do this prayer practice
1. Identify the problems your group faces that prevent each group member from making a request and receiving personal, specific prayer.
I developed the written prayer sharing sheet method to overcome the time problems of having all 30 people at our Sunday school class share a personal request for prayer and then receiving specific prayer for their need. Doing so would have taken up so much time that there would be no time for a lesson.
In addition to time problems, your group may experience the following problems that make it hard or difficult to spend quality time in prayer on all requests:
– People tend to spend a lot of time telling the whole story behind a request when sharing out loud with groups. And after a need is shared out loud, group members tend to want to help “solve” the problem by offering suggestions rather than praying.
– Because some needs shared are very “big” such as serious illness, people with less drastic problems may feel hesitant to ask for prayer.
– Group members may not yet feel comfortable praying out loud in front of a group. This problem affects about 80% of us at some point in time.
– Group members may not feel they can share a request out loud without getting emotional, but they may be able to do so if writing it down.
2. Print up copies of the Prayer Sharing Worksheet
Before the group meeting, print out enough Prayer Sharing Worksheets for each member. On the top of the paper write the following:
Part 1: Prayer Sharing Sheet
Name of Person # 1:
Something that’s going on my life for which I need prayer or guidance or encouragement or God’s help:
Leave blank space on the page and then halfway down the page write this:
Part 2: Prayer Sharing Sheet
Name of person # 2 (optional) who is responding in prayer as the Holy Spirit leads for this person and their need:
Written prayer for Person # 1:
Also make sure to have enough pencils/pens for use during the meeting. Pass out the papers to group members during the designated prayer time.
3. Explain to the group members how to use the worksheet.
Tell the group that this is a way to make a personal prayer request and to receive a written prayer of help, hope and encouragement from another group member for your specific need. It can be a double blessing to take the sheet home and re-read when the recipient of the prayer needs God’s help.
Each person puts their name on the sheet and then fills out the top of the under Part 1 where they write down something for which they would like prayer.
After group members have been given enough time to write a sentence or two about their request, the leader collects their sheets.
The leader then hands out the sheets with prayer requests written on the top to all group members.
When group members have had time to meditate and write a short prayer for the person’s request, the leader collects the sheets.
The sheets are then given back to the person who made the request and time is given for them to read the prayer that has been written in response to their need.
4. Explain it is optional for the person writing the prayer to put their name on the sheet.
The person writing the prayer may either sign their name to the written prayer or choose to remain anonymous. This enables those writing prayers to feel less self conscious. Obviously the person making the request needs to put their name onto the sheet so the sheet can be returned to them once a prayer is written for them.
5. Emphasize to group members not to try and solve the problem or offer suggestions to the person about their problem.
Share with the group that the purpose of the written prayer in response to the personal request is to ask for God to be at work in the person’s life. Encourage them to write prayers that ask for God’s presence and graces in the person’s life, for such things as God’s grace, comfort, strength and guidance.
6. Suggest that group members consider writing words of blessing as part of their prayer.
If the person writing the prayer knows the person requesting prayer, encourage them to thank God for this person’s good attributes and to pray for blessings on them and their family.
7. Challenge group members to believe that God’s Holy Spirit can work through them as they write a prayer.
Tell group members that this is a very good way to depend on God to help them be a conduit of God’s blessings and help to those for whom they are praying.
8. After the prayer sharing sheet time, consider a short discussion of what group members learned/gained from the experience.
After doing this prayer method with my adult Sunday school class, I asked people to raise their hands if they had made a prayer request in writing that they probably wouldn’t have shared out loud with the group. About one fourth of the group raised their hands.
I also asked for general comments. One man shared that he at first thought it would be difficult to write a prayer without trying to solve a problem, but had found that he was able to do it. Another person shared how the prayer they received was exactly what they needed.
9. Expect God to work.
God can use this way of praying for each person’s needs in many ways. Here are some of the benefits you might see:
– Group members will be able to share requests they might not feel comfortable sharing out loud
– Group members will learn how to pray for each other in a private way that does not require them to pray out loud in a group or sign their name to the prayer.
– Everyone can receive prayer support every time instead of just a few of the more pressing cases.
– Group members will learn how to write down their basic request to God in a few sentences, believing that the Holy Spirit knows the whole background and that long explanations aren’t necessary.
– Group members will learn how to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to gain confidence in depending on Him to enable them to pray.
– Group members will feel cared for and deeper bonds will form between group members.
– Group members will have a written prayer to take home that can encourage them later.
Several weeks after I had used this prayer method with our Sunday school class, I was chatting with a brand new class member whose mother had just died. She told me that she had written a request about needing God’s strength during her mother’s illness and that a class member had written a beautiful prayer for her. She said that she had re-read the prayer during her most difficult days and it had been a great source of help to her.
Biblical Basis for this prayer method:
The Apostles often sent written prayers to churches and individuals in their letters. St. Paul used this method quite frequently. Some examples of St. Paul’s written prayers in the Bible: Romans 1:8-10; Ephesians 3:16-21; Philippians 1:9-11.
Tips / Notes:
This idea may be adapted for online prayer groups.
The worksheet may be sent as an attachment to an email from the leader. Once the leader receives the attachments back, they are forwarded to individuals in the group. Once a prayer has been written, it is emailed back to the original person requesting prayer.
To find out more:
Copyright Karen Barber 2014. All rights reserved.