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When Prayer Time Comes

There’s something beautiful about hearing someone pray. Until recently, I hadn’t appreciated the ways our unique voices blend with the Holy Spirit when we pray. Our prayers hold threads of our testimony and what we’ve learned from God’s Word. When we pray for another person, we express what we know of a person’s character and faith.

I started a small group last summer and opened it up to young men at the church. The goal was to give guys leaving high school and college a bridge of Christian community until they figured out what was next. Even if they just needed a few weeks of Bible study in the summer, I wanted to give young men a chance to stay engaged.

The first guy to join had just graduated with an undergrad degree. When our first gathering was winding down, he surprised my co-leader and I by asking, “So, we’re all going to pray, right?”

I said, “Sure!” We divided up the prayer requests and took time to pray for each other.

A few weeks later, another guy joined. When we got to the end of the gathering, he asked, “So, we all pray, right?”


“When our first gathering was winding down, he surprised my co-leader and I by asking, ‘So, we’re all going to pray, right?'”


For context, every other men’s group I’ve been part of ended with the same painful silence until someone volunteered to pray or the leader closed out the meeting. Maybe my past experiences were atypical. Regardless, the enthusiasm for prayer those young men shared set the tone for the group moving forward.

Ten months have passed, and both of them have exited the group to continue their education, but their influence is still making an impact. When I meet a potential new member, I just lay it out: We all pray for each other.

I explain that it’s not about praying perfectly or eloquently. It’s not about impressing anyone. It’s not even about pushing through something that’s often uncomfortable. It’s about a few men shouldering each other’s burdens just as they are, right where they are. I haven’t given anybody an out yet, and so far, nobody’s asked for one.

I could tell a few of the new guys have been nervous when prayer time rolls around, but like I said at the beginning, there’s something incredible about hearing their prayers—prayers for other people, for me, and just in praise to God.


“There’s something incredible about hearing their prayers—prayers for other people, for me, and just in praise to God.”


For many years, I felt intense resistance to praying out loud in groups. When I was occasionally called on to pray, words quickly failed me. I’d sputter along for a while, trying to remember the list of prayer requests I wished I’d written down. Saying, “Amen,” felt like coming up for air after holding my breath underwater.

Translating a prayer request into what that person needed emotionally and spiritually felt so heavy. Have you ever finished praying and apologized to the people in the circle? I have. Tragically, when the enemy can tie shame to talking with God, he has a sturdy foothold in our lives.

I’m not sure when things shifted, but praying with a close friend definitely helped. He didn’t judge me when I fought to find the right words. He was fine with hanging back after group, so I could pray for him one-on-one. And I know he appreciated those prayers.

If you’re a small group leader, you know your members far better than I do. If some are just seeking or newly following Christ, collective prayer might not be as meaningful. My group also meets in my home which adds an element of privacy.


“I’m not sure when things shifted, but praying with a close friend definitely helped.”


Alright, that’s enough caveats. I’d gently challenge you to try it and see.

Your brothers and sisters might surprise you.

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