Matthew 26:40: A recipe for an hour of small group prayer

Challenge your groups to pray for an hour together before they break for summer (if your groups do that!)

I did this with my small group last night and it was very powerful and energizing for every person who joined us. We all prayed out loud and at the same time so we didn't have to listen to others pray (which gets boring and makes me sleepy). Some folks put their fingers in their ears to concentrate. BTW, the rest of the world prays this way so it's not freaky or Pentecostal or whatever your members might say because they're feeling initially uncomfortable with the idea.

Each section below covers 10 minutes of prayer... someone has to shout out, "Now lets move on to the next section and pray for ____________" and read the top line, then start praying out loud so others don't feel weird being the first one to start off.

Important note: If you want to know the single greatest way to help a small group grow with new Christians and new leaders, IT WOULD BE PRAYING LIKE THIS ONCE A MONTH. That's what the successful small group-driven churches do.

Please try it with your groups one week and then come back here and comment as to what happened and what the group's responses were!

Praise and adoration to your Creator
Begin your hour of prayer by praising God for his holiness and purity, which he freely shares with you through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Thank him for his goodness and desire to bless you. Praise him for his patience and loyalty, even when you don’t deserve it. Give him honor for the gifts and talents you posses, and be specific! Thank him for protecting you in ways you know about and those you will not know of until you meet him in glory. Finally, thank him for the privilege of being his representative in this dark and hurting world.

Pray for our federal government and its officials
As you pray for the U.S. Congress, Federal Court Judges, the President, and his cabinet, and other government officials, ask God to pour out his Spirit on each person or position. Use this time to intercede on their behalf, asking God to protect them, their families, and their relationships. Refrain from complaining to God about their positions on specific issues or party affiliation.

Pray for our city and your neighborhood
Take a few minutes to thank the Lord for this town and the things you love about living here. Praise him for the opportunity to be a positive influence on the many who live around us. Then, ask for a fresh understanding of how you can make a difference with your time, energy, and talents to make the people of our town feel loved and appreciated. Use the balance of your time to cry out to God for the unchurched in our town, asking him to give you a great awareness of their needs so you can respond in love. Pray for safety in the schools in your area and the children that are taught there each day. Ask the Lord to bring to mind the businesses in your area and ask him to prosper each one. Then, pray for your neighbors by name, asking God for open doors to deepen relationships with them and serve them.

Pray for our church, the staff members, and their families
Pray for protection for the Houston Vineyard. We’re working hard to reach people for Christ and Satan is never happy about that. Ask God to protect the members, family units, small groups, and leadership. Take your time and think through each family, group, and lay leader and lift them up by name. We also need pray for the missional direction of the church as it moves forward, increasing relationships with one another, the Lord, and unchurched families in our community. Pray for each staff member by name and ask God to give them encouragement and joy in their work, peace in their families and homes, and wisdom as they serve God and the congregation. (Add the names of your church’s staff members here.)

Pray for yourself
Petition God to be the kind of fellow small group member, friend, husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, ex-husband, or ex-wife that he would want you to be: slow to anger, quick to praise, full of wisdom, and to become a person of greater patience and grace. Thank God for each person in your small group and family by name, highlighting one or two ways you see God shining through them, including skills, abilities, and talents. Then petition God to be the kind of supervisor, employee, co-worker, or student that is a ray of hope, refreshment, and encouragement to those around you. If you are willing to be specific in this area when you pray, you'll run out of time!

Pray for the lost
Pray for deeper connections with unchurched friends, relatives, co-workers, fellow students, and neighbors. Thank the Lord for each person by name, highlighting one thing you love about that person. Then ask God for boldness with those you just prayed for and a new or stronger desire to tell them how Christ is working in you. (If you don’t have any unchurched people in your life, use this time to ask God to show you the people on the landscape who are desperately looking for a friend like yourself.)


Anonymous said...

Today (10/12/10) I went to the website after reading some brief excerpts from the book. Going down the list of topics I chose the two articles about prayer. In this one that notes Mt. 26:40, I read thru the suggested list of prayer topics, but found nothing about the transforming practice of --- confession. In view of James 5:16 and 1 John 5:16,why is it ommitted?

The Spirit knows there is no substitute for opening our heart if we want to be changed, and asking for another's forgiveness expresses sincere love. We may recall 1 Sam. 12:23, and Job 42:10.

Jesus described God's elect as those who cry to Him day and night, Luke 18:7.

I appreciate your desire to build up the body thru small groups.

Sincerely, Wayne McDaniel Phx.

Randall Neighbour said...

Wayne, you've made an excellent observation. Confession is certainly something that should be done at some point during one's prayer life in a small group.

However, this was written for a group of people who may have never prayed for a solid hour, let alone prayed aloud for a solid hour in a room full of other people.

So I offered ideas under the "pray for yourself" that weren't quite as challenging as confession for their first hour or prayer together.

The prayer agenda isn't something I expected groups to use over and over, just a little something to get them started.

My hope is that after the first hour, the group goes much deeper together into prayer.

Thanks for reading and commenting!