Praying Aloud in Your Small Group

It is not always appropriate nor healthy when group members pray aloud.  You may see some of the things that happen in your own group identified in this piece.  Hopefully the instructions provided will help you to direct your group members regarding a better way to participate in your group prayer time.

If you would like to discuss this subject with Tavia or Roger, please feel free to get in touch.  We'd love to see you!

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In group prayer, there's usually time set aside for silent prayer. But most groups spend most of their prayer time praying aloud. That is how those in the group become able to pray together, at once, on one matter, in agreement. Each of us have our own strange ways of praying. That's good, because that's really you praying to God. But some of us will tend to do something else when praying aloud:

• preach

• teach

• give advice

• give pastoral-style counseling

• pass along information

• give a political speech

• talk of glory, success, or blessings.

Many of us can't turn off our awareness that it's a captive audience -- they're all listening, but they'd find it hard to get themselves to talk back. They're trying to focus on God, but they can't, because their thoughts are being led somewhere else. Look again at what's being said -- those are not prayers at all. They're not directed toward God but to the group. God doesn't need to hear the gospel, doesn't need our counsel at all, and needs our personal or political posturing even less. So who is it for? Such talk too often uses the words "they" and "them", as in "Them vs. Us" or "those poor deluded souls who think such-and-such". Is that really a plea to the Almighty? Or is it a call for group bigotry?

When you pray aloud in a group, there are some basic rules to follow. The first and foremost of these is to address God, and no one else. If it's not being said to God, it does not belong in prayer time. If you're saying a lot of "me" or "we" (especially when combined with "should" or "must"), or a frequent "I" that's not confessing, then it's not being said to God. The second is like unto it: keep it simple. The more you drone on, the longer and more fully explained it gets, the more everyone's mind will wander from the task at hand. If you have to explain it, it's too complex, and it's being directed toward the others and not God. If the petition is not simple in its nature, then talk about it before prayer time. That not only prevents wandering, but gets others more involved in that specific petition.

Source: Praying in Small Groups