Below you’ll find the show notes for episode 44, Collecting and Sharing Prayer Requests in Your Discipleship, Bible Study or Small Group, from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
Collecting and Sharing Prayer Requests in Your Discipleship, Bible Study, or Small Group
Today we’re continuing our discipleship series with some helpful tips on collecting and sharing prayer requests in your discipleship, Bible study, or small group.
Many leaders have a love/hate relationship with prayer requests. We want to pray for the women in our group and love the way God uses prayer requests to knit our hearts together, but sometimes prayer requests lead to gossip or oversharing.
Maybe you’ve struggled to balance your Bible study discussion with a time for prayer requests. Maybe your group has a lot of needs or maybe you’ve got a group member or two that share a lot of details with each prayer request.
Help is here! I’ve participated in and led numerous Bible studies over the years and have picked up some tips along the way that I hope will help.
The first thing I want us to remember is that your Bible study or discipleship group is not a prayer group.
Bible study, not prayer, should be your focus and purpose.
Yet we share prayer requests and praises in Bible study because:
- Encourages members to engage regularly in prayer
- God’s Word tells us we are to pray for the needs of others (Ephesians 6:18 NIV says, And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.)
- Cultivates community
- Bible study should be life-changing, prayer helps to facilitate that change
- We should pray about our application of the study – hopefully requests shared will mirror what is being studied
- Celebrate what God is doing in our lives
I’ve found having some prayer request guidelines in place, is just as important and helpful as our discussion group guidelines that we talked about in this post. You may find you can even combine the two into one document. Sharing prayer request guidelines is something you’ll want to do on that first day of Bible study.
Think of these guidelines as guardrails that protect your group and your group members.
I’ve found it’s easier to be firm at first than trying to put guidelines into place where there were little or none. If your group members need more prayer support than your Bible study or discipleship group can provide, perhaps what they need is a prayer group.
Here are 7 guidelines you may want to apply to the prayer requests shared in your group.
Prayer Requests and praises in our Bible study group should:
- Be Personal. We want our women to focus on praying for each other, not the church, nation, or distant relatives (as they would in a prayer group). It is okay to ask for prayer for a neighbor, but train your group members to make it personal – “Pray our family will know how to minister to Mr. Jones in his time of need.”
- Protect privacy. Use first names only, take care when sharing details. Remind your women that they will likely see family members they are praying for in church on Sunday so let’s not make it awkward.
- Remain Confidential. What’s shared in Bible study, stays in Bible study.
- Be optional. No woman should ever be forced to share a request or pray out loud. Remember we are all in different places on our spiritual journey.
- Take only a small portion of time. Try to keep your prayer time to 5-10 minutes at most, so your focus is on Bible study.
- Occur at the end of your class time (if done in class). Again, the study is the priority. A friend shared with me that they spent 30 minutes on prayer requests one week leaving very little time for Bible study.
We’ve covered the why and the what of prayer requests, so let’s move on to the how.
First, you’ll want to decide how you’ll be collecting your requests.
Prayer requests can be shared verbally or only as written requests.
- You could pass around a spreadsheet, a spiral notebook, or use index cards.
- You could go around the circle with each person sharing their one or two requests out loud.
- Limiting sharing to even one sentence may be just what your reluctant ladies need.
You don’t have to collect requests during your meeting time. You could collect requests via email, text, phone calls, or an App.
You don’t have to use the same collection method every week. If you’re having a really rich discussion, maybe you don’t want to bring it to an abrupt end. Or maybe you want women to pray specifically for one other person in the group for the next week and swapping index cards or requests in person would be better.
Once you’ve selected your collection method, you’ll need to decide how you’ll distribute prayer requests.
We want to be sure everyone gets the prayer requests even if they are absent.
You could pass out photocopies, trade index cards, email, text, or use an app such as Slack, Facebook, or GroupMe. The key is making sure everyone has access and that they are distributed in a timely manner.
Today’s Toolbox Tasks:
- Create or review your guidelines for prayer requests.
- Prayerfully consider any changes you may feel led to make.
- Take action on those items.
While collecting and distributing prayer requests can sometimes feel like a burden, your women will find great comfort in knowing that the other group members are covering them in prayer.
There’s a knitting together that occurs as hearts are connected through the prayers we pray for each other.
Thank you for reading this blog post! If you want more help facilitating your discipleship, Bible study, or small group, be sure to check out my Bible Study Facilitator Training.
May the grace of God carry you through difficult ministry seasons, may He direct your steps as you seek to make Him known, and may your love for the LORD be apparent to every woman you serve.
You may also want to read:
6 Questions Your Women Will Have About the First Day of Bible Study
Discussion Group Guidelines for Your Discipleship, Bible Study, or Small Group
Bible Study Facilitator Training
How to Be a Great Bible Study or Small Group Leader
How to Launch Your Next Bible Study Session
Tips to Increase Your Women’s Bible Study Attendance
How to Start a Prayer Group
Women’s Ministry Prayer Resources