Most classes begin and end with prayer. For some, it is how one calls the class to order or declares the group now being in session. Ending the class or group time without a prayer seems cold or as if we are not serious about what we just studied. The Explore the Bible resources even include a prayer direction at the end of the group plans in the adult resources recognizing this standard practice.
For most groups, the prayer request time is how the rest of the class learns about needs within the group. In this sense, the prayer time is more about ministry discovery. But what if that prayer time took on a greater purpose, one with a purpose that moved beyond the scope of that class or group?
Scenario 1: What if requests were gathered and communicated to the pastor in some way? Imagine if every prayer request that was shared in every Bible study class or group made their way to the pastor. Don’t forget about the preschoolers and kids here! Their requests tend to be much more honest than the ones we hear in adult groups. These requests could be communicated in written form or by email. So here is the track: a person shares a prayer request and that request is recorded on a form or in a phone. Then that list is turned in or sent as an email so that the pastor can see what is being requested. He can now pray for the members of his church in an intelligent way. As he looks at future sermons, he will know some of the needs he may need to address from the pulpit (without naming anyone). The requests may even give him a clue about issues he may need to read up on.
Scenario 2: What if one Sunday a month was dedicated specifically to praying for lost friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members? Let’s say we choose the second Sunday of each month as our day to pray solely on lost people. As we conclude the study time, we shift our focus to prayer. We begin by asking for the names of people we know who do not know Jesus. We may ask for a first name, initials, or by relationship. We record the name, initials, or relationship on a large sheet of paper and in our notes being sure to include who shared each name, initials, or relationship. We then lead the group to pray for the list, asking God to open that person’s eyes and for opportunities to share Jesus with that person. We then ask everyone to pray for this list daily as a part of their prayer time.
Over the next month, we make sure to ask the people who shared a name, initials, or relationship about the person they placed on the list. We pray with them individually and encourage them as they look for ways to share Jesus with that person. We will also want to share about the people we added to the list and about our opportunities to share with that person.
When the second Sunday of the next month arrives, we call attention to the list and ask for any updates. We also invite the class or group to add to the list. We then lead the class to pray for the names, initials, or relationships listed, asking God to open that person’s eyes and for opportunities to share Jesus with that person. We ask everyone to update their list and to continue to pray daily for the people listed.
What might happen to our Bible study classes and groups if we made sure our pastor knew all the prayer needs shared and if we focused solely on praying for lost people one Sunday a month? I would like to think these two purposeful actions would make a difference, but there is only one way to find out.