I was reading a friend's blog that had some great instructions for leaders on how to pray conversationally in a small group. Many small group members are scared to death to pray out loud for fear they'll say something wrong in their prayer and others will hear it. Of course, you're praying to God and no one else should matter, but this is not an issue of fact, but fear of rejection from man.
Interesting personal observation:
I've travelled all over the world and visited more small groups than I can count. The only place where conversational prayer is the norm is the West. In Central and South America, Asia, Africa, India, and even Europe, small group members pray aloud simultaneously when interceding as a group or praying for healing for an individual.
Taking our lead from South Korea
Some call this concert prayer. Dr. Cho, pastor of the largest church in the world calls it "tabernacle prayer."
If this sounds pentecostal or hyper-charismatic to you, you'd be dead wrong. Down the line, denominational churches such as Southern Baptists and Methodists teach their people to pray aloud with everyone else when it's time to pray.
When I hear teaching on prayer in small groups, I can't think of anything more boring than praying for an hour with others and being forced to listen to them pray or ignore them while I pray silently. Conversational prayer also seems like a waste of time. Why listen to one person pray when everyone could be praying?
I know there's a place for conversational prayer and I'm not throwing the baby out with the bath water. But excluding concert prayer because it's not the way we did it in the 70's doesn't mean it's wrong or bad. It's just different... and very powerful!
The first time I prayed for an entire hour I was in an auditorium in Singapore, praying with 2000 other people. We were invited to pray aloud in 10 minute segments for our church, our pastor and staff, our family members, our small group, the lost, and ourselves. The six ten-minute segments flew by and I wondered why we were not given another hour to pray. The fervor in the room was electrifying. I couldn't really hear anyone else praying, but what I heard was the roar of intercession.
No demon within a mile of that auditorium could have remained. Because of our concurrent prayer, we brought heaven down in a way I have never experienced before.
If you've never prayed for an hour with your small group in concert prayer, use the six topics above and give it a try. Invite the members of your group to take a walk on the wild side and pray like the rest of the world to discover what they have already found....
listening to other people pray for any length of time isn't nearly as powerful and inviting everyone to pray aloud simultaneously.
I am with you on this one. Ban conversational prayer in small groups! (well at least be judicious in its use...)
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