If you lead a large Bible study group, prayer time can take up the majority of your meeting. I’ve found several effective ways to honor people’s needs to present prayer requests and to balance the group time so that I have time to guide the Bible study. Here are 3 ways to speed up prayer time in larger groups:
- The Basket Approach – Provide each group member with an index card, and ask them to write their prayer request (or requests) on one side, and their email, phone, and name on the reverse side. Pass a basket around the room and instruct group members to place their prayer request cards in the basket. Then pass it around a second time, and ask group members to mix up the cards and remove one. Whoever’s card they draw, that becomes the person they pray for throughout the week. I’ve asked my group members to email and/or call the person to let them know who’s praying for them. I’ve found that this saves time in the group study, and it helps connect people to one another.
- Quads – In larger groups, simply break the group down into smaller groups of 4 people. Ask them to present prayer requests to one another, and to pray for one another’s needs. This creates intimacy, and it helps people get to know one another in a larger group. Plus it has the added benefit of encouraging people to pray out loud (it’s less intimidating in a group of 4 than in a group of 34!).
- The Group E-Mail – On occasion when I can see that the Bible study is going to run long, I will say something like, “I’ll send an email to the group later today, and summarize the study for us and those not here. If you have a prayer need this week, just “reply all” and let us know what it is. We’ll jump into action and begin praying for you.” I then control the length of the prayer time by simply praying for the Lord’s blessing on the group, our study time together, and those not present.
What tips would you suggest to help larger groups manage their prayer time?
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Electronic means for handling prayer requests is great if everyone has an email. I teach an older class and about half do not have email addresses. So we use other methods. Like taking a few minutes to ask for requests. It only takes about five minutes.