One secret to praying for others in a group setting is to use a prayer promise circle where group members take turns praying for each other by reading Bible verses that are personal promises from God. This is the perfect way to offer and receive hope and encouragement in a very personal and dynamic way.
How to do this prayer practice:
In this prayer method, one group of people rotates around a group of seated people while quietly speaking a written Bible into the person’s ear as a promise from God. Once a full rotation is done around the group, those seated get up and go around the group quietly speaking the written Bible verses to the newly seated group members.
There are many amazing benefits to this prayer method.
– The seated people can be in a prayerful attitude focused on God because the praying person is behind them.
-The praying person often naturally places their hands on the person’s shoulder when speaking to them, adding a strong caring connection.
-In addition, those doing the praying are speaking God’s beautiful words without having to rely on their own thoughts or prayer abilities.
-Those praying are encouraged to say the person’s name before reading the verse to mark it as a personal word of God for them.
The advantages of this prayer method are that everyone can participate and everyone is offered a powerful prayer experience of both giving and receiving prayer.
2. Set up the prayer time following these steps.
In the prayer promise circle prayer method, chairs or benches are placed in a circle facing in toward the center, leaving enough room behind the chairs for members to stand behind the chairs.
Half of the group members are seated in the chairs. The other half of the group members begin by standing behind someone sitting in a chair.
Since names will be spoken before reading the prayer, it may be helpful to have nametags that can be read on the back of those seated in case those praying don’t know their name. At the retreat I attended, we were wearing lariat type name tags on a string around our necks, so we simply moved our nametags around to our backs.
Each standing group member is given a piece of paper with a Bible verse written on it that has been selected by the leader. Each Bible verse is different.
The group member standing behind the seated person bends down and quietly reads the Bible verse into the ear of the seated group member as a prayer of blessing and encouragement. All standing members say their Bible verses to the seated members at the same time.
Once all standing members have read their Bible verses quietly into the ear of the person seated in front of them, the entire group moves to stand behind the person in the chair to their left and they read their assigned Bible verse to the next person.
When those reading the Bible verses have made a complete rotation of all of those seated in the circle, the written Bible verse is given to the last person who heard it. Those seated then take these Bible verses and exchange places with those who have been standing and the process is repeated until all members of the group have heard all of the Bible verses.
3. Pray about the kinds of Bible verses God might want to communicate to the participants.
The Bible verses to use can be selected for a variety of reasons:
– Verses may go along with the theme of a lesson or a retreat
– Verses may be on a particular subject, such as love, courage, etc.
– Verses may be chosen to cover a variety of needs and graces
Look for Bible verses that express God’s love, care, compassion, direction and encouragement. You can use a concordance to look up verses on a particular subject or pray that God will bring verses to your mind. Verses may be copied directly from the Bible or they may be summarized. Here is a list of Bible verses used at a retreat that I attended that will help generate ideas.
__________, I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
_________, “Be still, and know that I am God
__________, You are fearfully and wonderfully made
____________ ,The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
________________ ,Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
______________,Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
____________, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.
_____________, The LORD your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much he loves you and how happy he is with you.
___________, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
____________, Come to me and I will give you rest
4. Write the chosen Bible verses on paper and duplicate enough copies for the group to use.
5. Set up chairs in circles
If your entire group size is under 12-16, you can do one circle of 6-8 chairs with 6-8 people seated for the first round of prayers and 6-8 people standing behind them to pray.
If your group is larger, you will want to have multiple circles of chairs. For instance, in a large meeting where there are 80 people, you would have set up 5 groups of chairs with 8 chairs each so that 40 people are seated at a time and 40 people are standing.
6. Instruct the group
Explain the prayer time and instruct those praying to begin by verbally filling in the blank at the beginning of the written verse with the person’s name for whom they are praying. If group members do not know each other’s names, use nametags that can be read from behind the person. Instruct those praying to then pray the Bible verse quietly in the listener’s ear and then read the chapter and verse of where it appears in the Bible.
An optional idea is to allow those reading the Bible verses to also say an extemporaneous sentence prayer based on the Bible verse they are assigned.
After those praying have rotated around the entire group, instruct them to change places with those who have been seated.
7. Decide on an appropriate way to finish the prayer time.
The leader may close this prayer time in any way that God leads. They may say a prayer over the whole group that God will bless all of the participants. They may lead into a time of altar prayer. Or they may dismiss the group for personal reflection and meditation.
8. Provide copies of all of the prayer promises to the group.
After the prayer time at our retreat, many of the participants wanted to have the complete list of Bible verses that had been used so they could remember them. Leaders may either have a sheet with all of the Bible verses written on them to hand out to the group or may email them to the group later as a follow up.
Biblical background of this prayer method
Praying Scripture is a prayer practice that has been used throughout the ages as a way to affirm God’s words to us. In Deuteronomy it says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heat and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you like down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NIV)
My tips and experiences
I was very touched and moved by my experience with a prayer promise circle at the women’s retreat I attended. There were over 80 women there, so we had been divided into smaller groups with whom we met during the weekend to share our life stories and have discussions. This small group was also used as our group for the prayer promise circle. This made it very special because these were women we had gotten to know on a deeper level during the weekend and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to pray for them and affirm them.
Copyright Karen Barber 2014. All rights reserved.