Small Group Prayer Guidelines

Guidelines to ensure small group prayer times are fruitful, exciting and faith-filled. Intercessory prayer groups in both church or home settings can be exciting, vibrant times of working with God and your team. As you pray,  expect to see Jesus move in the world, your nation, city, congregation and homes.

Coming together in a small group dedicated to prayer can be fruitful and productive. If your group is larger than eight, consider breaking into smaller groups within the same meeting. The following guidelines will inspire your team as you enter prayer.

Appoint a leader
It is a good idea to rotate leadership of a small group. In an intercessory prayer group, the leader is not expected to do all the praying nor are they supposed to do much teaching. The facilitator’s job is to invite an atmosphere of prayer by:

  • Ensuring the different guidelines are applied
  • Reminding the group that they are coming together to pray for others, now is not the time to bring up personal prayer needs of members of the group.
  • Making sure each topic is covered thoroughly before moving on to the next topic.
  • Opening and closing the prayer time with prayer.
  • Making sure the prayer time does go overtime. Most intercession times should go no longer than 60 – 90 minutes, including worship.

Appoint a scribe
As with the leader, the job of secretary should move from person to person. The scribes duties are:

  • Mark the date.
  • Write down prayer items in the prayer book. It is very encouraging to have a prayer notebook that you can go back and see answered prayer over the weeks and months that you meet.
  • Summarize any relevant scriptures, impressions or pictures and significant prayers that were prayed for each item. Don’t forget to mention the name of the person who shared these details with the group.
  • Make sure the prayer book is put away in the same spot each week so that the next scribe can find the book.

Start with a short prayer of thanksgiving.
If it is possible, start with a couple of worship songs that engage your spirit and prepare you as a group for intercession. Praise God for who He is and thank Him for the awesome privilege it is to bring these prayer items to the One who intercedes on our behalf.

Hebrews 7:25 – He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Praise God for the privilege of cooperating with Him in the affairs of men through prayer.

Ask the Lord to search your heart.

Ask the Lord to search your heart for any unconfessed sin that would hinder you from hearing as you wait upon Him. Be swift to confess that sin to Him, and accept His forgiveness. Unless the Lord points out something that affects the whole group, now is not the time for a group confession. Don’t dwell long on this point and don’t worry if nothing comes to your heart immediately.

Psalms 66:18 – “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

Psalm 139:23-24 -“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Die to your imaginations, desires, and burdens for what you feel you should pray.

Remind yourself that you don’t know everything. However, God does!

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 28:26 – “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”

Isaiah 55:8 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”

Submit your mind and imagination to God.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Admit to God that His thoughts are much higher than our thoughts and that you lay down any preconceived ideas of how you thought the prayer time should go. Be willing to lay down prayer requests that you felt were important if the Lord has other plans for the session.

Ask the Lord for protection as you pray and take proper authority over the enemy

Rebuke the enemy and remind yourself of your power in Christ.

James 4:7 – “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Deal firmly with the enemy. Come against him in the all-powerful Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the Sword of the Spirit and the Word of God. A caution: don’t give our enemy any more attention than he deserves.

Praise God in advance and expect Him to speak to you. He’s a remarkable God, and He will do something consistent with His character.

Wait on the Lord in silence for a few minutes (about 3 or 4 minutes).

Wait expectantly with faith that He will speak to you.

John 10:27 – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Psalm 62:5 – For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

Micah 7:7 – But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Because you submitted your thoughts and imaginations to the Lord and you dealt with the enemy, have faith that those things that came into your heart and mind as you waited came from Him.

In humble obedience and faith, be willing to share your impressions with to the group.

John 10:27 – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Psalms 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

After a few minutes, the Leader should go around the group and ask each person to share what they received during the brief time of silence. If someone didn’t receive anything, they should have the freedom to say so. If a central theme doesn’t seem to be present,  return to silent prayer and ask the Lord to clarify. Sometimes, seemingly unrelated impressions have a connection, and the Lord will point it out as you wait. Always have Bibles available.

Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Pray believing!

Pray each item through before moving to the next prayer topic.

Avoid vaguely generic prayers of blessings. Be specific! Be bold! Ask for the finances, provision, wisdom, or protection that is needed for victory in the situation. God want us to be specific and direct with Him, just as a child would ask their father directly for the things they need. A child tells their father they are hungry, they ask for new clothes, they are detailed in their requests.

The leader is responsible for nudging the small group on from one topic to another. Don’t move to the next subject until you’ve given God the time needed to discharge all He wants to say about this burden. Try not to bounce back and forth between prayer points. Keep your prayers brief and to the point, prayed in authority. Rambling, long-winded prayers cause others in a group to lose focus. If there is a long silence, this is a good indicator it is time to move on to the next prayer item.

End with Thanksgiving

When you feel you have sufficiently covered the things for which your small group felt led to pray, finish by praising and thanking Him for what He has done. Ask the Lord to remove from you any burdens that you are not to carry out of that intercession session. Close the prayer time with another worship song and prayers of thanksgiving for all God accomplished during your prayer time. The Father has heard faith that all things prayed, and He is at work! Thank the Lord that He spoke to you and that His will was accomplished.

I must give thanks and all credit to Joy Dawson of Youth With A Mission who revolutionized intercessory prayer groups around the world with this teaching. I wrote this article based on brief notes I took in 1981 during my Discipleship Training School. Over the years, I have fleshed out the notes to include scripture and a few added points.
Daily Christian Quotes
Examples of prayers written or spoken by modern-day Christians and by our brothers and sisters in Christ who went before us.

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All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

©1997, 2016 Katherine Walden

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