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Prayer: the best help you can give

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

For some of us, prayer time may be the most anxious portion of a small group meeting. What if no one prays and it’s just quiet? What if we all forget someone’s request? What if my prayer doesn’t sound spiritual? If you have ever thought that way about prayer, I have, too. But I want to give you some encouragement as well. Prayer can be the best part of your small group when we stop to think about what is really going on.

I often have to remind myself that I don’t just pray for the work of the kingdom; rather, prayer is the work of the kingdom. When we pray, we are acknowledging our need before God and reminding ourselves of who is in charge. It is God who is at work to see his kingdom advance, so my crying out to my kind Father is tapping in to the greatest resource for kingdom advancement that I/we have!

In many ways prayer is the work of the small group. Famed Bible commentator Matthew Henry once wrote, “The best remembrance of our friends is to remember them at the throne of grace.” In prayer we are bringing others we love before the One who can truly help them and who truly knows what is best for them. Unfortunately, we are often more comfortable giving advice to friends than crying out to God. What a great privilege we have to bring each other’s burdens before our Heavenly Father and in so doing remind each other that He is our real hope, not our own wisdom or planning.

Prayer doesn’t only happen during group meetings, of course, but there is something special about hearing others pray for you or pray over you. It’s a reminder that we do know someone who cares and can help. It’s a reminder that we have people who love us enough to go to God on our behalf when we’re too afraid or tired to go ourselves. Some of the best moments in my small group have been when we’ve stopped to cry out to God together for a need or situation in the group.

“Prayer time” is not one-size-fits-all for small groups. But I’d encourage you to think about how prayer can become more a part of your group – both when you’re together and when you’re not. I think you’ll be amazed at what your Heavenly Father will do when you slow down to spend time with him and to bring those you love before him. You may remember one of the sermons from our recent Nehemiah series entitled “Don’t Just Do Something … Pray!” That’s a great encouragement for small group leaders. Don’t think you or your group needs to be or have the answers to everyone’s problems. But don’t hesitate to run before your Father on each other’s behalf … it’s the best help you can give!


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Recommended Reading

You'll find most of my recommended books available in the Guest Center at Southwood.

  • You Can Change
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    Tim Chester

    How do we mortify sin? How do we address the sin in our lives that reignite like a trick birthday candle we thought we had already blown out of our lives? This is a careful and thoroughly theological book that is hopeful without avoiding honesty. It is practical without being legalistic. It gets to the root of the sinful areas of our lives without offering a prescriptive regimen to hide behind avoiding the grace that has the only true power to teach “us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

  • Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp

    Small groups would be easy if weren’t for the people in the group! This book will help equip you to see your own sin first and provide the courage and humility to address it in others.

  • The Heart of a Servant Leader

    This is a collection of letters written by Jack Miller to people experiencing real-life concerns and struggles. Through these gracious and honest letters you will learn how to humbly offer to others (and yourself!) hope, repentance, and courage that flows from the truth of the gospel of grace.  Though this isn’t a “how to” book full of nifty steps to Your Best Gospel Life Now. It’s a glimpse into the heart of a person who has found food at the Cross, and you watch (and learn) as he humbly points others to the feast.

  • Comforts From The Cross
    Comforts From The Cross
    Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

    This 31 day devotional will bring you to the foot of the cross to remember and celebrate the truth of the gospel of grace, and develop skills that will help “inform, free, gladden, and enliven your soul every day.” Becoming proficient in applying the Gospel of grace to our own hearts is a key skill that is well worth our effort to develop.

Recommended Listening

  • Christ PCA - Nashville
    Scott Sauls and CPC Staff

    Listen to sermons from Senior Pastor Scott Sauls and other CPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Lookout Mountain PCA
    Joe Novenson and LMPC Staff

    Check out sermons by Senior Pastor Joe Novenson and other LMPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Steve Brown Etc.
    Steve Brown

    Steve Brown’s unique blend of orthodoxy and controversy, humor and profundity, and a refusal to play religious games will give you permission you have needed to stop being so uptight. And even if it’s for 30 minutes, you just might experience radical freedom, infectious joy and maybe even a bit of surprising faithfulness.

Recommended Links

  • Tim Chester: reformed spirituality and missional church
    Tim Chester

    Tim has an incredible way of applying the Gospel of grace that is both practical and honest with a consistent skillful affinity to point us to Jesus. He is director of The Porterbrook Institute; a church planter with The Crowded House in Sheffield, UK; and the author of over a dozen books including Total Church and You Can Change.

  • Of First Importance
    Living Each Day in the Good of The Gospel

    Here you will find a growing collection of gospel-centered quotes to help reorient your thoughts toward the splendor and grandeur of the person and work of Jesus.