This session is the third in a series designed especially for all-age homegroups, those who meet intergenerationally with members from babes in arms to great grandparents included in the mix. The activities and discussion points are designed to include all members, as they feel able. The sessions are designed to work best in sequence, but you may prefer to dip in, or use the sessions out of sequence if that better meets the needs of your group.
This session explores prayer, what it is, how and why we do it. There are lots of opportunities in this session to for the group to openly explore their own questions or queries about prayer as you seek to encourage members of the group to develop their own prayer lives.
Where possible, begin your time together with a shared meal, or some light refreshments. This is a general time of fellowship for all members of the group to share together and conversation should try to be inclusive of the whole group. As well as a social time of discussion, you could remind the group of some of the things you discussed last time you met, and how these things may have helped shape their every day since you were last together. If you are following this series in order, the previous session was ‘The Unique You: How do you best connect to God?’ and the session ended with a challenge to try out one of the different activities suggested in order to help members of the group connect to God. Take the opportunity to find out how this went, discuss any issues raised and perhaps any alterations people could try out as they establish their own rhythm.
Begin this session by rolling out a large sheet of paper and dividing it into two columns. Explain to the group that we are going to be thinking about prayer during this session. Each of us will have our own previous experiences of prayer, perhaps some of us have good, solid prayer lives while others may feel we are just getting started or perhaps have hit some bumps in the road we need to deal with. Before we begin this session, it would be good to think about what we already know about, or experience of prayer, and what areas we would like to know more about. Provide marker pens and invite each member of the group to note down in the first column anything they already know about prayer, and in the second, anything they want to know about prayer. Encourage the group that there is nothing they can write here that is foolish, or unwelcome. This is just a helpful way for us to find out together where we’re already at on the topic of prayer. This can be done anonymously, with everyone contributing at the same time, rather than putting people on the spot to explain what they have written. When everyone is happy that they have added all the points they want raise, sit back and look at the sheet together. You can discuss some of the issues raised, or make a note to follow them up later in the session. You could leave the table out on view as you look at the Bible passage together.
Begin by reading Phillippians 4:6 and explaining that this verse helps us to root this session in understanding how very important prayer is. Explain that there are lots of passages we could look at to help us to explore prayer together, but today we are going to be looking at Jesus’ most famous teaching on the subject. Turn together in the Bible to Matthew 6:5-15 and read it together, encouraging the group to follow it in their own Bibles.
Provide a story basket with a selection of old mobile phones, phone handsets, computer keyboards etc, devices that are used in communication for them to handle and play with, as you discuss the Bible reading.
Invite the group to discuss some of the following questions are as most appropriate, or some of your own questions about prayer, from the opening activity. Encourage members of all ages to participate in the discussion, intentionally inviting the children to share their responses. If children should drift away as the discussion continues, gather them back together at the end to join together in the praise and prayer sessions.
Some groups may be ready to go deeper in their study, in which case this is an opportunity to explore some of the tricky questions about prayer that members of your group may have. These may have been raised in the opener activity or come up as you have been talking. Alternatively, you may find it helpful to ‘play devil’s advocate’ and raise some tricky questions for the group to explore together, for example; ‘why is it that when I prayed for my aunty, she still died?’ Be cautious in the way you raise these issues, remembering that for some people, these will be very real, recent experiences, but it can still be a helpful thing to explore these issues together.
Some groups enjoy a time of shared sung praise together, whilst for others this is not helpful. Treat this time as optional, depending upon the needs of your group. For younger children, this can be a great time for joining together with the adults in praise, perhaps using percussion instruments, scarves or ribbons as you sing.
Some song suggestions for this session include:
Gather the group together and remind them that today has been all about prayer, so now is the perfect opportunity to put this into practice. How you pray together, will depend entirely on where you have got to in the session. It may be most appropriate to simply pray the Lord’s prayer together aloud, or you could ask the group what they want to pray about, at this point in time. Your families may be ready to take a new step, and pray aloud for one another, or simply respond to the prayers of a leader. Use this time as is most helpful to the group as you draw this session to a close.
End the session by equipping the families with something they can take away to help them to pray together at home, in the coming week. This could be as simple as a print out of the Lord’s prayer which they can display somewhere at home that they can all see, and take a few moments every day to pray these words together. Alternatively, you may want to provide a notebook for each family, together with a selection of craft materials and spend some time creating a family prayer journal which they can take home with them. Encourage the families to spend some time writing their own prayers in the journal, and waiting to see how God responds to those prayers in the coming days and weeks.