Shared experiences are one element of community, but we sometimes settle for shared experiences when what we really need is meaningful community. Instead of defining the term “meaningful community,” let me describe how it plays out in my life.
Several years ago, I created a prayer team out of necessity. All kinds of things were going on that made life a challenge, so I approached several people who became a prayer team for me. Over time, that team has expanded to what it is today. They include high school friends, former coworkers, current coworkers, people who have been friends in local churches I served, and family members.
These individuals have committed to pray for me one day each month. What we have found is that these friendships have taken on deeper dimensions. I did not approach them with the goal of deepening our friendships, but that is what happens when we pray for and with others. We become bound to each other as we approach the Father on behalf of another. We are going to Him together.
To me, this is true community. We are praying through hurts, dreams, and hard lessons. What is shared represents a deeper level of trust than we usually experience with a group talking about our days or weeks while eating some muffins.
Prayer might be the most important action we can take when it comes to building community within our class or group. We include prayer prompts in the Explore the Bible resources for this very reason. These prompts are included in the group plans in the Leader Guides. We are trying to give teachers a natural way to foster prayer in the context of the passage being studied. This not only helps us reinforce the truths found in that passage, but it also helps forge relationships within the class or group.
In the Personal Study Guide and Daily Discipleship Guide, we include a place for recording prayer requests. This space is included because we realize the role prayer plays in helping people connect with others. Prayer is more than a spiritual discipline in the life of a class or group, it is a means of building relationships.
We can help our class develop community through prayer, using the tools provided in the group plans and the space for recording prayer requests. What to discover more about the role prayer can play in your class or group? Download this free PDF