We are all of one body (the body of Christ), with Christ as our head; therefore, it is our designed purpose to be united, and thus to live together in unity for the purposes that God has planned for us. One of the ways that unity takes form is through group prayer. Accordingly, one of the great purposes for our unity and for united prayer is to strengthen our faith. And this is exactly what happens: when each group member hears the Spirit-filled prayers of others, they experience God’s presence, and the Holy Spirit stirs their hearts to believe in Him more fully.
Henceforth, as we believe in Him, and likewise learn to love Him, He will come along side of us and deliver us from fear. Hence, the promise “perfect love casts out fear” is confirmed to us when we pray together in love (1 Jn. 4:18).
But there is more to group prayer than being personally delivered from fear. Spirit-filled group prayer will actually produce or summon the power of God to make our prayers more effective. In fact, I believe that when believers pray together in unity, prayers will be more powerful and more effective than individual prayer. Why? Because when Christians pray together with one mind and heart, the faith of each believer is added to the faith of the others, so that there is more faith and more power. And along with faith there is also more love and more hope. Each one receives it from each other, but knows it is from God. It branches out through each group member to each group member. Each one is linked to another, and they, all together, receive the power of God. Each one, we could say, is like a spark plug; when we all spark together (in the right order and in unity) we generate the power of God (or we could say, we get the Holy Spirit moving) to answer our united prayers to the glory of God.
But you say, is there any real proof of the power of group prayer? Yes there is. We have the undeniable, historical record of it. When the early church prayed together with one accord in the Spirit many were brought to salvation (Acts 2:47), many were filled with the Spirit and were given God’s power to speak with boldness (Acts 4:31), and some were miraculously delivered (e.g. Peter, Acts 12:5-19).
So this is what I see as God’s design for group prayer. Now how can we best practice it? What is God’s idea for how we should pray together? As I see it, there are two main parts to group prayer: the leader and His leadership, and the other members. The leader has a particular role to play, and the members have a role to play. When each plays his or her role as God has designed, then group prayer will be successful.
So first of all, how does the group leader best lead? What things does he do to make a successful prayer group?
(1) He plans the time and the place of the meeting. He is also responsible for the details of the meeting; he takes the time to plan such things as the Bible study, singing, sharing, and the prayer time. And I think it is important in his planning that he makes prayer the primary focus; therefore, he must plan ample time for prayer, and structure all other activities around the prayer time so that prayer gets the spotlight.
(2) He prepares a Bible study for the meeting. In the prayer groups that I have led I have found that when I have taken sufficient time to prepare a Bible study, the prayer meetings were more productive. I think it is so important whenever we pray to first open the Word. If we take the time to study and think on the Word before we pray, prayers will be much more God-directed and Spirit-filled.
(3) He will lead each activity of the meeting. And in his leadership he will always show a spirit of love and acceptance to each member, seeking to serve them and not to lord it over them.
How does each group member play his or her role?
(1) He or she submits to the leader and to the Holy Spirit; if members are rebellious and self-willed, unity will be lost.
(2) Each member is attentive to the Holy Spirit and therefore prays according to the Spirit’s leading. If any member has wandering thoughts and is not committed to prayer and to God, then he will bring disunity to the group and will hinder what God wants to accomplish.
(3) Each member shows respect and love to one another. The most successful prayer groups have developed a lasting love for each other. When you pray for each other in your group, remember those requests and continue to pray over them during the week. Be committed to love each other, and God will bring His power to your group.
This blog is an except from my book, Prayer A to Z .