This post is an excerpt from Kelly D. King’s new book, Ministry to Women—a guide book for women leading in ministry to women. Click here to pre-buy the book today and learn more about this new release!
Spending time praying in your small group is vitally important, but it can also lead to distractions, gossip, and insufficient time to complete your study discussion. Here are a few ways to better manage your prayer time during Bible study.
IT’S OK TO SET BOUNDARIES DURING PRAYER TIME.
Explain to the group that you have allotted a certain amount of time for prayer requests and actual prayer time. Setting a boundary will help ensure you’re able to accomplish what you’ve prioritized.
BE CREATIVE IN THE WAYS YOU PRAY TOGETHER.
Some women are timid about praying together in a group, and many haven’t prayed out loud, in front of others. Instead, find creative ways to allow everyone to participate. Assign each member a specific verse to pray out loud. Ask her to spend time in praise and speak out loud the names of God. Spend time in thanksgiving, and have each woman share one thing for which she is grateful.
CONSIDER REQUESTS THAT RELATE TO THE PERSON IN THE GROUP, NOT DISTANT ACQUAINTANCES.
It’s important to pray for your neighbor’s step-brother who just had surgery, but when you may be limited for time, consider asking everyone to share prayer requests that are personally related to their needs or ways they can personally minister to someone else.
KEEP PRAYER TIME ON SPECIFIC REQUESTS, CAREFUL TO AVOID GOSSIP.
In line with setting boundaries, consider prayer requests that can be listed on a board in bullet form and shared quickly without a lot of explanation. When you see someone veering off into a conversation that leads to gossip, gently guide the person back to the request, and help keep the discussion moving.
INCLUDE SILENT PRAYER TIMES.
Lead everyone to share their requests, and then take a few minutes to silently pray for one another. Encourage women not only to take their requests to the Lord but to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts.
Set this boundary from the beginning so women feel they can share their needs openly and without judgment. If a situation arises involving verbal/physical abuse or illegal activity, address the situation with church leadership. This may also involve contacting law enforcement officials and asking for guidance regarding next steps.
FIND VARIOUS WAYS FOR WOMEN TO PRAY TOGETHER.
You may not have time for each person in the group to pray. If that’s the case, divide women into smaller groups of two or three, encouraging them to pray for one another and share requests within the smaller group. Vary your approach from week to week to keep it fresh.
PRAY IMMEDIATELY AS CONCERNS ARE VOICED, IF APPROPRIATE.
If a need arises in the middle of Bible study, don’t be afraid to stop and pray immediately.
ENCOURAGE PRAYER FOR THE LOST.
Praying for those who have physical needs is important, but even more pressing is prayer for family and friends who need to come to Christ. Keep those requests in front of them and encourage your group to look for ways to not only pray for nonbelievers but for opportunities to share their faith with others.
KEEP A PRAYER JOURNAL FOR THE GROUP.
As a group leader, keep a small notebook of requests that people have shared. Check on specific needs throughout the next week and continue to pray for one another until God has answered the prayer. Encourage everyone in the group to keep a prayer journal so they can visually see how God has worked within the group over a period of time.
These tools are meant to be helpful handholds, but remember, ultimately you are striving to love these women well, point them to Christ, and walk alongside them in the ups and downs of their spiritual journeys. If a prayer time runs long or the dynamics of your Bible study aren’t exactly as you’d envisioned, don’t worry—you’re all growing together. Be faithful, trust God, and He’ll enable you to bear fruit.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Women. She and her husband, Vic, have been married for more than 28 years and have enjoyed serving together in ministry both teaching in student ministry for 25 years and teaching young married adults. They have two young adult children, Conner and Courtney, and a son-in-law, Gaige. They enjoy kayaking, having people in their home, and cheering for the Oklahoma City Thunder. A good day includes mocha lattes, Mexican food, and shopping for bargains.
Want to read more from Kelly? You can pre-buy her new book, Ministry to Women, here!