Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (James 5:16-17)
Group prayer refers to the gathering together of Christians in order to pray and glorify the Lord together as one body. If one considers the New Testament as a whole (as opposed to picking verses out of context, like some do with Matthew 6:6), it is clear that Christ intended for his followers to be united as a whole. Shortly before he was arrested, Jesus, whilst speaking to the heavens, requested this of his Father: “Holy father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” (John 17:11) Paul repeatedly reinforced the idea of the Church “family,” using familial language to address the recipients of his letters (“Brothers,” “Sisters,” etc.) and constantly implores them to behave as one body. Consider the following:
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (I Peter 3:8)
“Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be you.” (II Corinthians 13:11)
Therefore, the practice of group prayer is something that we as Christians are encouraged to do; there is, of course, a time for private study and prayer, but group prayer is important as well, as it unites the family and allows them to give spiritual support to one another.
The Benefits of a Prayer Group
Prayer groups have many benefits for attendees.
They bind people together, allowing them to see similarities amongst them instead of the differences, allowing them to bond as group and become more trustful towards one another.
Prayer meetings can also be places where attendees confess their sins to the group, as Christians are called to do.
It is a way to witness the power of prayer. Meeting regularly as a prayer group allows members to see the ways prayer works; for example, an individual’s need to find a job may be prayed about within the group and when that person finally does find a job, the entire group is there to bear witness.
It is way for Christians to encourage one another in their relationship with Christ.
The Disadvantages of a Prayer Group
Of course, the regular services of the entire church have some advantages over that of small prayer groups.
Small prayer groups are not great ways to evangelize to nonbelievers. Praying out loud and baring the soul to others is never easy, but it is even harder to do in a group of strangers. Because prayer groups are by nature intimate gatherings, bringing guests is more likely to make them feel uncomfortable. A regular service is best for spreading the Gospel.
Small prayer groups do not connect attendees to most of their church family.
What Happens at a Prayer Group?
The tone, atmosphere, and activities of prayer groups can vary even within the same church family because of the human element. However, most prayer groups include the same basic practices: often they will begin by singing several songs, then someone might read a Bible verse or talk about a passage. After that, they will likely go around the room for everyone to give their prayer requests, and finally, the group’s members will take turns praying for another. This typically concludes the meeting, though members will often eat together after the official time has ended.
Participating in a mixture of private and group prayer can really enhance your spiritual life, as it combines the one-on-one personal reflection and group support into one package. However it is practiced, always remember:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:4)