07 Sep Small Group Prayer Meetings
by Stu Johnston
– The New Testament calls the church to, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another” (1Pe 4:8). One key way we are seeking to nurture earnest love for one another is through our monthly small group prayer meetings. Consider two of our objectives. First, we are seeking to cultivate our devotion to prayer in our fellowship with one another. The early church was devoted to praying together (Acts 2:42; 3:1; 4:24; 12:5; 13:2-3). One of the most important ways that we can share life together is to pray together. We may spend most of the small group meeting sharing, but a key goal is to pray together.
A second objective is to cultivate a more personal and deeper fellowship with one another. Normally, our mid-week prayer meeting focuses on larger concerns of the Kingdom. But there is a place for being more personal. We think we can better bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2), rejoice with those that rejoice (Rom 12:15), and pray for one another (James 5:16) if we have a regular meeting in which we can share with one another on a more personal and deeper level.
We experience many personal blessings. But our lives are also marked by struggle, temptation, failure, and needs. We want to cultivate a genuine awareness of one another’s encouragements and burdens. We might discuss a question like, “What are you encouraged about spiritually right now?” or, “What is an area of spiritual struggle or concern?” Our aim is a deeper communion with one another.
We want as much personal participation as possible. The small group meeting is more like a family devotion time than a miniature model of a normal mid-week prayer service. Our group sits in a large oval; we go around the circle sharing and then around again praying. I have so appreciated hearing women and young people share and pray.
We plan to maintain the same groups over the next 12 months, hoping to build upon the group chemistry that has begun to jell. Our groups will continue to have a Sunday lunch together once a quarter. Some groups might want to occasionally have a meal together on the Wednesday night that is scheduled for their meeting.
We do not want to burden busy lives. And we understand that some, due to work, distance, health, age, or some other factor, cannot regularly be involved in a small group. But we must cultivate real fellowship. May the Lord help us to, “Above all, keep fervent in (our) love for one another”!