How to Have a Prayer Meeting
“I can’t do that!”
It can be intimidating to think about hosting or facilitating group prayer. You may be bombarded by questions, doubts, and insecurities at the thought.
Who do I invite? Will they come? What if no one prays? I’m not good at praying! What if it just doesn’t work?
The evil one wants to disarm you by taking away this powerful tool God has given us. Doubts come from our own personal walks: struggles with competency, knowledge, speaking skills, and confidence with or around other people. These are some of the same doubts Moses had when God called him to stand up to Pharaoh and lead his people out of Egypt.
- But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”(Exodus 3:11)
- “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13)
- “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’”(Exodus 4:3)
- “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)
Each time Moses raises a question or doubt, God answers, providing Moses with the confidence he needs to move forward. God says to Moses the same thing Jesus said to the disciples after he appeared to them and gave them the small task of taking the gospel to the world.
I’ll be with you.
God says we aren’t on our own. When we gather to pray together, Jesus says he is with us (Matthew 18:20). This should give you the confidence to at least invite people into a time of group prayer.
“Okay, now what?”
You’ve extended the invitation and gathered a community of people to pray. The next step is structuring that time together. You may have a loose idea of what to do, but I want to offer three additional ways you could structure a time of group prayer.
1. Open-ended Prayer
This is likely the most common way groups pray. This structure is equivalent to prayer at the end of small group meetings. There is usually a single prompt or question that everyone in the group addresses. You can either go around the room or allow people to chime in when they want. But everyone participates by sharing something around the prompt.
If you are looking to host your first prayer meeting, this is a great place to start.
You can prompt the group with questions like:
- Where do you need prayer most in your life?
- How have you felt called to contribute to our community lately?
- How is God challenging you to think beyond your personal experiences?
After people share their prayer requests, pray for them. Choose someone to pray for each person or pray openly as a group after everyone has offered up their. Make sure someone is ready to take notes, that way you don’t forget or miss a prayer.
This type of prayer time is excellent for small groups, friends, or established communities where there is some relational connection.
2. Prayer for a Specific Topic
This type of prayer meeting can feel very planned, but that’s the point. Like the above offering, it’s open, meaning anyone can share. But the structure is more rigid or guided to help the group focus on one thing.
For example, let’s say you want to pray for God’s work around the world. Instead of just leaving it open for anyone to pray about anything anywhere, you can have specific prompts to focus on ministries your church supports. Example prompts could be:
- Pray for college students in Hungary.
- Pray for teenagers in Nagoya Japan.
- Pray for single moms in Harmons Jamaica.
Once you have your list of specific prompts around your topic, assign each item on the list to a different person in the group, then take turns praying aloud.
This type of prayer time is excellent for new groups of people. Or for a collection of employees, neighbors, or any group that has a shared affinity of some sort but doesn’t have a deep relationship with one another.
Try This: Pray the Lord’s Prayer together.
Take the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-11) and have someone pray each section of that prayer. They can add their own words, but use the petition Jesus gives as a baseline.
3. Liturgical Prayer
I mean this is the traditional sense. Liturgical prayers are prayers that you would pray during different seasons of the church calendar (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, etc,). Or they’re prayers for very specific situations—less common events like funerals and weddings or ordinary daily tasks throughout the day like preparing a meal or preparing for bed. Using written liturgical prayers helps you pray words inspired by scripture and thoughtful theology, intentionally structuring your time praying together.
Here are a few great resources for liturgical prayer:
- Every Moment Holy
This series consists of prayers for ordinary events in daily life. You can order books, purchase PDFs, or explore the free app.
- The 1662 Book of Common Prayer
This is the official prayer book of the Church of England (and Anglican churches around the world). It’s been helping structure people’s prayer life for 350 years.
- Rhythm: A Twice-Daily Prayer Podcast
Develop a habit of regular prayer (and learn what it’s like to use liturgical prayer) with this new podcast from The Crossing.
The point of structuring your prayer meetings around liturgical prayers is to move your entire group through shared and directed prayer. It doesn’t have to be scripted out, but it should be specific.
This type of prayer time is great for a small- or medium-sized group that has gathered for a specific occasion or who has practiced praying together and wants to be more intentional in their time.
Try This: Pray as you prepare a meal together.
Gather your kids, roommates, or some friends and use this prayer prompt the next time you prepare a meal.
Let God Work
There are many ways to pray as a community. Each of us has what we need to pull it off. Hopefully, you feel more confident to host or participate in group prayer and you’re ready to plan your own prayer meeting. God delights and works through our prayers as a community!