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5 Ideas for Inspiring Your Small Group Prayer Time

Need a prayer reboot for your church small group? Get creative + designate prayer champions!
By Shelley Leith, Study Gateway

 Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.

Colossians 4:2 AMP

When your small group meets, do you sometimes find that your prayer time becomes a tack-on at the end of your meetings, or something you squeeze in just before you dismiss? Or, has it become routine, where you fall into the rut of praying the same way every week? Whether your small group Bible study meets virtually online or in person, you’ll find that if you refresh the way you pray together, your whole group dynamic will change.

A great way to change up your group’s prayer life is to assign a different group member to be your prayer champion every week, which means that you are rotating the responsibility for running your prayer time through every member of your group. There are all kinds of methods your prayer champion can choose from to help your group pray creatively:

Small Group Prayer Idea #1: Pass the Baton
In the Pass the Baton method, one person shares a prayer request, then someone volunteers to pray for that person immediately. The “baton is passed” to the one who prayed, and they share their request, then they get prayed for; then that pray-er shares their request, and so on.

Small Group Prayer Idea #2: Days of the Week
When my daughter was in college I remember getting into her car and seeing an index card stuck to her dashboard, with the days of the week and a name beside each day: Monday—Megan, Tuesday—Lindsay, etc. I asked her about it, and she told me these were the girls in her small group, and this was their schedule of who the whole group would be praying for on each day of the week. Your prayer champion could assign your entire group to pray together for one or two people each day, cycling through everyone over the course of the week.

Small Group Prayer Idea #3: Random Shuffle
In my high school girls’ small group, I had one prayer champion who felt uncomfortable praying out loud in the group, so she had everyone write their prayer request on a card, then she shuffled the cards and distributed them, and you prayed for the whole week for the person whose card you randomly got. An online version of that might be where your prayer champion pairs up people who are next to each other on the screen, and have them exchange cell phone numbers, then they text each other their prayer request, and check in with each other throughout the week as they pray.


Small Group Prayer Idea #4: Zoom Rooms or Prayer Pairs
If you make your prayer champion the co-host of your Zoom meeting, she can assign pairs of people to Zoom Breakout Rooms, then when it’s prayer time, she splits up the Zoom call into separate “rooms” so the pairs can pray privately with each other, then at the specified time, Zoom returns everyone to the main room. For an in-person small group, you could assign prayer pairs who pray just with each other.

Small Group Prayer Idea #5: Focused Topic
Your prayer champion might decide to focus your prayer time on one topic, such as healing, where everyone shares a prayer request for healing of health, or healing in a relationship. Or he might say, “This week we are going to make a list of the people we are praying for to come to know Jesus.” Then, everyone would write in the Chat the names of the people they are praying for—my son Jacob, my neighbor Michelle. This might become something you regularly revisit. Save the list and pray together on a regular basis for family members, co-workers, neighbors, and friends who need Jesus.

This Prayer Champion idea might surprise you. In my high school group, I had one girl, a naïve cheerleader, who was very new to Christianity, and by the time it was her turn to be the prayer champion, she had not yet prayed out loud in the group. When it was prayer time, she asked us all to bow our heads, and she proceeded to go around the circle of fifteen girls and pray for each one, specifically mentioning their high and their low they had shared back at the beginning of the evening! I have never been more shocked and humbled in all my years as a group leader! Her new faith, and her care for her friends, and her courage to put herself out there were all things I least expected to see, and God put me to shame for judging and assuming he wasn’t at work in her. Turns out our prayer champion was a prayer champion!!

Bonus Idea: Go through a Bible study on prayer

If your church small group wants to do an entire Bible study on prayer, you can find a whole category of studies on prayer and intimacy with God on Study Gateway. You’ll discover studies on prayer by some of the most powerful and respected authors in our library, including Chrystal Evans Hurst, Anne Graham Lotz, Jim Cymbala, Max Lucado, John Eldredge, Mark Batterson, and Philip Yancey.      
Did you know we offer subscriptions specifically tailored to small groups? Unlimited access to Study Gateway for a group of up to twenty people costs less than $1 a month per person—would your group members spend $1 a month on Bible studies to help them get better at praying? Click here to learn more.

Looking for other ideas for improving small group engagement? Check out my other articles:
1. Is Attendance Declining in Your Church Small Group?
2. 3 Reasons Food Is So Important to Small Group Fellowship
3. Fearful About Leading a Church Small Group? 3 Lies You Need to Stop Believing