Even though Prayer is the seventh item on our list of nine essentials of a Discipleship Group, it could easily be first: prayer ought to permeate every part of the discipleship process. Think about it, before we even begin our discipleship group, we’re praying for God to show us those He desires us to invest in. Jesus models this for us in Luke 6, when He spends all night in prayer before picking 12 of the disciples to be apostles.
12 During those days he went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. 13 When daylight came, he summoned his disciples, and he chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: (Luke 6:12-13, CSB)
We not only pray for those God would have us to invest in, we are also prayerful as we approach each person and invite them to be a part of the group. Once the group is formed, everything we do as a group ought to be bathed in prayer.
A Discipleship group should pray for one another for a couple of reasons. First, when we pray, we are saying without saying a word that we are dependent upon God. Second, we demonstrate that we believe God to do what only He can do. We trust Him to not only open the eyes of our understanding, but to help us to lay hold of the truth in such a way that we apply it to our lives. In other words, we want God’s truth to move from our head to our hearts—then to our hands.
Model The Role
A D-Group leader should be a role model for those in their groups. They should demonstrate what it looks like to be a man or woman of prayer. Since prayer is one of those disciplines that is caught as much as it is taught, setting an example for those you are discipling can have more of an impact than you may realize. In many ways, we learn to pray by praying. We should pray with others as well as spending time in prayer alone.
As a leader, you not only want to teach your members what gospel centered prayer looks like, you want to pray often with and for your group. We should lead our groups to see prayer as a never-ending conversation with God. As the Apostle Paul said to the believers in Thessalonica:
17 pray constantly, (1 Thessalonians 5:17, CSB)
In addition, teach your discipleship group to pray before reading or studying the Word of God. Pray as the psalmist did:
18 Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wondrous things from your instruction. (Psalm 119:18, CSB)
Also, help them understand that it is absolutely necessary that they pray for one another throughout the week. I will include that in my covenant that I have them sign when they begin meeting together as a group. Your group should know that everyone in the group is praying for each other. So, when they promise to pray for one another and their families, I call their attention to 1 Samuel 12:23, which says:
23 As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you. (1 Samuel 12:23a, CSB)
Never minimize the importance of prayer for your discipleship group and in your time together as a group. Remember the classic quote by E. M. Bounds, “You can’t rightly talk to men about God until you first talk to God about men.”