Saturday, January 24, 2009


Getting Past the Superficial in Small Group Prayer

The earlier post by Jailer on transparency brings up another issue I could sure use your collective wisdom on. One thing I notice as a teacher in a Christian school and as a small group leader is the banality of prayer requests. At the risk of seeming insensitive to physical ailments, how do you all get past the "pray for my Aunt Susie's knee operation next week" litany? I can share my own needs but this does not often lead to honest sharing of needs or requests that go beyond the typical prayers for healing.
Jailer's Intro: Hail to the Chief! Welcome aboard and thanks for contributing. Chief is an exceptionally gifted Christian thinker ... I remember during one very deep Bible study in Okinawa, the Jailbreaker and I were struggling over some complicated doctrinal point while the Chief was out of the room. We bantered it around playfully, but both of us had to admit later that we were just stalling until Chief could come back in to rescue us! I'm grateful to have him on board.

Oh ... and I really appreciate this topic! My first thought is ... we (as leaders) must lead the way into transparency! That doesn't come without some risk, by the way ... I remember once confessing my struggles with sometimes doubting the very existence of God to a small group. The leader looked uncomfortable and then told me he'd pray for me. Obviously that didn't open any doors toward greater transparency, and in fact may have shut a few. And so we're back to "Aunt Susie's knee operation."

On the other hand, maybe all we need is a little mood music ...


  1. Here's another thought ... going back to my earlier post on "ACTS, Popcorn and Psalms" (, sometimes it helps to force people to address other aspects of prayer by using a technique like "ACTS".

  2. I was just thinking this same thing during our small group Bible study last week. I don't know the approach to this. "Irked" describes my feelings towards these kind of prayer requests...
    I did likewise, and tried to take the group deeper when I asked for prayer on my struggles with returning to the private sector after years in the military...the transition still has been rough...but I felt like the group wanted to hear more of the "Aunt Susie..." type prayers than diving into my opening of transparency.
    It has been awhile since I've gone deeper. I may try again during the next study.


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