The “Boredom” of Prayer

Prayer group

Charles Brammall on how to re-ignite prayer time

Honestly, I think I’ll pop if I’m in one my small group, and after the study, with half an hour to go, we go round in a circle, “share prayer points” for about five minutes each, then pray as a group for five minutes only. This kind of small group prayer misses out on the deep joy and rich variety that God’s Word describe prayer as having:

Phil 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Heb 4:16: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

1 Thess 5:16–18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 John 5:14–15: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

1 Tim 2:1: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.”

James 5:16: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

So how can we make prayer in our small groups the challenging, moving, comprehensive experience God in His great kindness intended it to be?

Mix it Up– Some Ideas
• Don’t always have prayer time at the end of the study. Have it at the beginning, or halfway through, or have a couple of prayer times.
• Don’t always go round in a circle to share prayer points. Invite anyone to say something they!d like prayed about. Then anyone else.Finish asking for suggestions when the group falls quiet. Not everyone will end up choosingto say something, which is great- people don!t feel pressured. Our new home group does this, and it is refreshing.
• Pray without sharing prayer points sometimes. Everyone will hear what you want to pray for anyway, as you pray about it.
• Have some nights when you:
– only pray about things in the passage, with your Bibles (and eyes) still open.
– agree to spend a night only asking prayers for forgiveness. (Warn people at the beginning of the evening if you are going to do this – it can be confronting. And make it clear that not everyone has to if they don’!’t want to). I once made the insensitive mistake of not warning a group about this, and one lady found it quite distressing – she raised this vigorously before we started praying. Silly me.
• Spend some nights only asking the LORD for our needs. Or thanking Him or His kindness to us. Or praising Him for who He is and what He has done.
• Agree one night to pray only for other people, not ourselves. Or cross-cultural mission. Or our three levels of government. Or world events. Or for our leaders in the Lord.
• Sing a song or hymn to the Lord in the group, acapela or accompanied.
• Pray only for non-Christian friends and family. Or persecuted Christians. Or our relationships with spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandchildren, workmates or neighbours.
• Pray only for our generosity- that we!ll serve unselfishly with our gifts, talents, strengths, resources, income and time etc.
• Pray in pairs, small groups, or the whole group. Or split up into sexes or ages.
• Do a series of studies on Don Carson’s book “Praying With Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation”, in which he teaches us to pray through Paul’s prayers.

At the risk of being heretical, I imagine God could get “bored” at our week-in-week-out unvarying prayer styles. I know I do. And there are so many different things to pray about, and ways in which to pray.

Praying with this kind of variety in our groups means we will bring our requests to God in a way that is fresh, encouraging, and representative of the range of prayer in His Word- joyful and richly varied.

Image credit: Prayer Team Retreat-20 / Flickr