5 Ways to Pray During Notes Night

by Michael Reed
The staff have conversations all of the time about Gospel Communities, one topic that comes up often is prayer. The conversations usually go something like this: “Prayer during notes night is taking up more and more time.” After some digging, I find that it is not actually prayer that is taking up a significant amount of time, but prayer requests. While working through the frustration I have found that the main complaint is that the same requests come up again and again. Everybody wants to share, but when it comes to prayer, only a much smaller percentage actually prays… to God.

Instead of seeing this as a negative, I believe it’s a great teaching/training opportunity. We need to be training the people in our lives about prayer. Below is a short list of ideas that will hopefully help you teach people how to pray.

  1. Modeling confession and repentance.The single most effect act you can do is model confession of sin and disbelief. Confession by itself is good, but not the whole picture; we must be the leaders of repentance. This entails confessing to both God and man and asking the Lord to help us turn away from sin.
  2. The “no prayer requests” prayer. I don’t really know what to call this, but the idea is that we are not going to take prayer requests in the group. Rather, we are going to open up the floor in prayer and encourage those with prayer requests/praises to talk directly to God about them. Some notes on this:
    • This does not mean that you can’t stop and ask more questions about someone’s prayer.
    • This doesn’t mean that you can have only one person pray for the request. There is much freedom in talking to God, and you can pray for someone else’s prayer after they have prayed for it.
    • Don’t be discouraged if there isn’t much participation early on; this can be very awkward at first and takes time for people to get into the habit.
    • Ask your group how they feel about praying to God out loud. For some, it’s an intimidating experience, we want to emphasize that our Gospel Communities are safe places to explore prayer without judgment.

      The goal throughout this approach is to spend the majority of our prayer time talking to God (vs. talking to each other) and encourage our members to go directly to God with their needs. 
  3. Dividing the group up. There are multiple ways to do this, but if your group is getting to be too large to all pray together every time, try breaking the group up into smaller groups to pray.
    • Have guys and girls split up for prayer. While you can do this anytime, it may be especially beneficial after a serious discussion (sin, sexuality, purity, etc.), or if you know that there is an issue going on that one would feel comfortable sharing only with members of the same sex. Both men and women can benefit from this time away from the opposite sex to share, but please do not let it be a complaining session about a spouse.
    • Another way to split the group for prayer would be half and half. This simple method forms two groups out of the larger.
    • Gather in groups of 3-4 where you already are, this breaks it up even further and allows people more time to share/pray.
  4. Praying in different times in weekly life. Spend time with others outside of Notes Night and prayer there. This isn’t to make every get together (like Superbowl Sunday) a spiritual prayer session, but this is where sharing a meal and getting to know other’s stories and struggles come into play. Encourage these kinds of meetings among the members of your group.
  5. Pray through a Common Prayer. Check out some liturgical prayers. Liturgy has been a staple of the church for a long time, but not something we do much today. Check out a book called “Common Prayer, A liturgy for ordinary radicals”… common prayers are community prayers that everyone participates in. I like what the book says in its introduction:

“Liturgy’s counterintuitive nature may feel a little culturally strange at first. It is weird enough in our culture just to get together to sing songs (unless you are going to a concert or playing Rock Band on the Wii). Singing and praying together can feel awkward, especially if it is not Thanksgiving or Christmas. But liturgy is meant to be an interruption. It disrupts our reality and refocuses it on God. It reshapes our perceptions and lives with new rhythms, new holy days, a whole new story.”

In what ways have you and your group prayed that you found beneficial and rewarding?