Pray for the members of your group every day. Pray that the curriculum you will be using will speak to your group and transform their lives to look more like Christ. Also pray that God would prepare you and your heart to facilitate a discussion that helps people grow in their faith in Jesus Christ.
SOAK YOUR GROUP MEMBERS AND CURRICULUM IN PRAYER
T.A.L.K. to God about Your Group
When you pray to God about your group, follow the T.A.L.K. process.
Thank God for Your Group and the People He Has Sent to You
God has blessed you with people whom he trusts you will love and encourage. Express to God your gratitude that he entrusts people to your care. The apostle Paul often expressed his gratitude to God for the people he was able to serve. In Philippians he wrote,
3Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Phil 1:3-6, emphasis added)
Ask God to Use You As His Servant and Instrument
God has sent you people for your group, so ask God to use you in a special way to serve and help them. When Nehemiah was living in Persia and he heard about his home city—Jerusalem—and how it was still in ruins, he prayed to God asking God to use him to rebuild Jerusalem,
5Then I said, “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! . . . 11O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer. (Neh 1:5-6, 11, NLT, emphasis added)
A little later Nehemiah gets a chance to talk to the king of Persia about returning Jerusalem to rebuild the city.
4The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven, 5I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.” (Neh 2:4-5, emphasis added)
Look for Ways to Help Your People Grow in Their Faith
As you facilitate your group you will see areas that your group can grow in their faith.
One of my professors at Dallas Theological Seminary teaches, “True fellowship directly involves intercession [prayer] for one another, both in assembly and in private.” 1 You will see areas people can grow from the study you are doing, the struggles that your group members have, and their strengths. Those will be opportunities for them to grow.
Before Jesus was arrested and eventually crucified he prayed that that God would be present with his disciples and help them grow in their faith after Jesus left. Jesus prayed to God,
17Make them [the 12 disciples] holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. 20“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. (John 17:17-21, emphasis added)
Jesus asked God to teach the disciples the “word” which is truth and that the truth would allow them all to live together as one body. And as one body the world would know about Jesus.
Keep Praying to God Regularly
Persistent prayers get answered. So keep praying regularly.
Never stop praying. (1 Thess 5:17)
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Eph 6:18, emphasis added)
WHEN TO PRAY
The Bible describes believers talking to God early in the morning, throughout the day, and all night.
Early in the Morning
King David shared how he prayed in one of his Psalms.
“Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly” (Pss 5:3). In another Psalm he says, “I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words” (Pss 119:147). Jesus also got up early to pray. “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray” (Mark 1:35).
Pray early in the morning for your small group.
Throughout the Day
When David was fleeing and hiding from Saul he wrote, “Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice” (Pss 55:17). Another Psalmist shared, “O LORD, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night” (Pss 88:1).
One of the reasons that Daniel was thrown into a lions’ den was because he was praying three times a day (Dan 6:10). Additionally, the apostle Paul told the believers in Thessalonica to “never stop praying” (1 Thess 5:17) and the believers in Ephesus to “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion” (Eph 6:18).
“Our communion with God should be more than just having a quiet time in the morning; it should be an all-day affair” (Jerry Bridges, True Community, p. 35). Pray for your group throughout the day.
In addition to praying early in the morning and throughout the day, the Bible also talks about believers praying all night.
When the Lord told the prophet Samuel that the Lord was sorry he made Saul king, “Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the LORD all night” (1 Sam 15:11). When Luke describes the prophet Anna waiting at the temple for the coming Messiah he describes her as “She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer” (Luke 2:37).
A little later Luke says that “Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night” (Luke 6:12).
Prayer and the Christian
“When I was a child, the neighborhood children always gathered at our house. I can remember times when there were fifteen or more children on our porch or in our yard. My mother and father heard the racket, but their ears were especially tuned to the voice of their own four children. So it is with God. He hears the voice of nature, according to the psalmist—the breasts and birds when they cry out for food. And God hears the voices of the nations in rebellion. But above all the strife of voices in this world, God hears the cries of His own children. We have a right to ask God for what we need because we are His children through faith in Jesus Christ.” (Wiersbe, The Bumps Are What You Climb On, p. 90)