In my early years of serving as a small groups pastor I often would talk to a person interested in joining a small group, refer him to the small group facilitator, then would find out that no one showed up for the group. Thus, I developed these ten tips because several of our groups had ten people sign up to be part of a group, then when the group was ready to start only two people showed up the first night.
PRAY FOR THE PERSON
I have never met a person that has refused allowing me to pray for him. As you meet a new person and work to develop a connection with him, offer to pray for him.
Ask If There Is Anything that You Can Pray for Him About
Your first point of contact with a person is probably going to be by phone or in person. (You always want to connect in a personal way such as a phone call or in person; not just via text message, email, or Facebook message.) When you talk to the person, ask if there is anything you can pray for him about. But, be sure that you have set aside a little time for this phone call with the person.
Offering to pray for someone might mean that he wants to talk with you about it, and it could take a while. Be sure that you have at least ten minutes set aside to have this conversation. If you feel comfortable, pray for the person on the phone together. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, then it is okay to tell him that you will be praying for him during your personal quiet time each week.
Then, before you end the call, ask if you have his permission to share those prayer requests with your small group. What a comforting assurance it gives someone visiting a small group to know that the group has been praying for him and his prayer requests before he even visits the group!
Write Down the Prayer Requests and Follow Up
One of the encouraging parts of facilitating a small group is seeing God answer prayer requests. So, be sure to pray for the person interested in joining your group, but also write them down so you don’t forget. Several days later after you first talk with the person interested in joining your group, I suggest you let him know you have been praying for him.
Send him a text message or email simply saying, “Hey brother. I have been praying for you. Hope you are well.” Something like that goes a long way to encouraging someone and building a connection between you and him. And, if the person in your group happens to miss your small group study, be sure to let him know that the group was praying for him and his prayer requests, even though he was not there.
When you connect with people interested in your group keep track of their prayer requests and pray for them. Then follow up with them to let them know that you have been praying and to see how God might have answered those prayer requests. If you feel comfortable, you can even pray for the person on the phone.
Prayer Is a Foundational Part of Our Christian Faith
The topic of prayer is peppered throughout the Bible. Most clearly, Paul told the believers in Thessalonica, “Never stop praying” (1 Thess 5:17).
And in the Psalms David wrote, “O LORD, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly” (Pss 51:1-3).
As a small group facilitator, you are in a position of leadership and authority. You need to use your position as a meaningful way to pray to God and intercede for your people. Here is a closer look at prayer in the Old Testament and New Testament.
Prayer in the Old Testament
There are several examples of leaders praying to God and interceding for their people in the Old Testament. Moses prayed for the Israelites (Deut 9:18-19; Exod 32:9-14; 34:9; Num 14:11-19; Deut 9:25-29). Samuel prayed for Israel (1 Sam 7:5-9; 12:19-23). Job prayed for his friends (Job 42:10). And Jeremiah prayed for Judah (Jer 7:16; 11:14; 14:11).
Prayer in the New Testament
There are several examples of prayer being an influential part of the Christian community in the New Testament.
Jesus Christ intercedes for believers.
“Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (Rom 8:34, emphasis added).[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation.[/ref]
Also see Isa 53:12; Heb 7:25; 1 John 2:1. In addition to Jesus Christ,
The Holy Spirit also intercedes for believers.
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will” (Rom 8:26–27).
Christians are supposed to pray for one another.
“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).
Also see 1 Thess 5:25; Phil 22; Heb 13:18-19; James 5:14-16; 1 John 5:16).
In fact, the words “pray, prayed, prayers, prayers, praying, prays” occurs in all but seventeen books of the Bible. In other words, those words about prayer occurs in forty-nine out of the sixty-six books of the Bible.[ref]They occur in every book except Levitucus, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Song of Songs, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Hagga, Malachi, Galatians, Titus, 2 Peter, 2 John, and 3 John. This study was based on the New Living Translation.[/ref]