Are you part of a prayer group? Do you sometimes feel frustrated with how things go? Today, I’m going to let you inside the head of a prayer group leader — me. While no two of us are exactly alike, we do share some common ground. I’m hoping some of the things I say will help you understand how your prayer leader ticks, so you can function at your best within your group. (Come to think of it, a lot of these points might apply to your pastor as well.)
1.) Each prayer group leader has a particular vision for his or her group. That vision will include which topics the group prays about and what the format for your gathering is. You may not like the emphasis or style. Give it a try anyway, and see if you can learn to flow with it. If you can’t, maybe another group would be a better fit for you.
Sometimes people join a group thinking it’s a democracy, where everyone’s input is on an equal footing. They try to remake the group into their vision of how things should go. While suggestions can be helpful (and good leaders listen to those), frequent “You should do it this way instead” comments aren’t usually appreciated because they don’t fit the overall goals of the leader of their group.
2.) Your leader can’t control everything that happens. In fact, it wouldn’t be great if leaders tried! Things can — and will — go wrong, because people are people. Sister Eunice might pray or say something goofy sometimes. You could, too. (And so could your leader!) Just let it go.
3.) Just because your leader doesn’t deal with inappropriate prayer or comments in the moment doesn’t mean he is oblivious to a problem. Trust him to take care of it. He probably will, but he plans to do it privately.
My husband and I have, on rare occasion, stopped something from happening in the moment. There were a few times we should have acted more quickly and didn’t. (Sorry, but we’re not perfect yet.) Most of the time, we let minor things go and allow the Lord to work on people’s maturity gradually. But if something is enough out of line or happens a lot, we really do deal with it behind the scenes. We want to avoid humiliating people and be as loving as possible. It’s a crazy balancing act between doing what is best for the individual and what is best for the group.
4.) Dueling prayer warriors are no fun for the rest of the group. Please avoid this behavior. Did Brother Bob just pray something you disagreed with? Even something really wacky? You don’t have to launch into an obvious comeback prayer to counteract his error. Diplomatically pray another side to the issue, yes. But argue with him via “prayer,” no.
God doesn’t get shook up over a prayer here and there which isn’t according to His mindset. (We all pray these at times.) He simply lets wrong prayers fall to the ground unanswered. And, contrary to what some have taught, occasional prayers not in agreement with His will do not end up as ammo in the devil’s hands. The enemy has not been given that authority.
So, when somebody prays something “off,” just grit your teeth and move on. Your prayer group leader has to do this more times than you will ever know.
5.) Prayer goes better for everyone if you stay sensitive to others in the group. This doesn’t mean you have to walk on eggshells, hoping never to offend anyone. It does mean some things are entirely appropriate to pray at home which it would be best not to bring into the group setting, because they could be unnecessarily divisive. It also means if you are charismatic, and you know you are praying with people who are not, it’s not a good idea to launch out into a message in tongues. Know your prayer partners and love them more than you love your freedom or theology.
6.) There will be good prayer meetings and ones which fall flat. This is normal. It’s not the end of the world to have an off week. Sometimes things flow effortlessly in the Spirit. Sometimes they don’t, and we power through it the best we can. God still hears our prayers on the weeks when we feel things are not clicking like they should. Have faith in His ability to cut through the mess and still use your group’s prayers for His glory.
7.) Give your prayer group leader grace to grow, just as she tries to do with you. Leading prayer is not an easy job. Give your fellow prayer team members grace, too. We all need multiple second chances to get things right. Love covers a multitude of sins.
Are you a prayer group leader? Would you like to add some suggestions of your own? Please share in the comments!