In most group Bible studies we take prayer request before or after the study time. This is right and good. James 5:16 calls on us to, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.” Galatians 6:2 says we are to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
However, often the potential ministry and faith growth that could be cultivated from these times is not actualized. At best, it is usually only the teacher who records each of the prayer requests and does any type of follow up. When this happen we lose the “one another” ministry intended in the verses above.
The “Prayer Request Journal” (SUMMIT_SGprayerjournal) is an attempt to provide your Sunday School or Bible study with a tool to encourage and equip the members of your study group to intentionally pray for and bear the burdens of one another.
Introducing the Prayer Journal
(1) Begin by asking each member to record the prayer requests spoken to the class. It is hard to remember to pray for something unless we write it down. This is why we don’t (or at least shouldn’t) go to the grocery without a list.
If they will get a miniature three-ring binder (the size of most Bibles), they can three-hole punch the sheets and keep a record of God’s faithfulness to the class. This binder can also serve as an excellent tool for taking (and keeping up with) notes during the Bible study or sermons.
The journal is divided between praises and petitions to emphasize the need for balance in our public prayer life and in the way we involve our fellow believers in our life.
(2) Next ask the class to pray over their class requests at least once per week during their personal Bible study and devotion time. Keeping classmates in your prayers during the week is an excellent way to build the sense of community in the Bible study.
As they pray, each member should ask God, “Would you have me follow up with this person’s request in any way?” If God lays on their heart a way to serve the request of a classmate, they should record this underneath the request.
When they have been faithful to do as God prompted them, they can check the circle as a means of personal accountability. Too often without personal accountability we miss the blessing of following through in obedience to God’s will. Over time this results in feeling distant from God, as if He is uninvolved or uninterested in our daily lives.
(3) Periodically (monthly or quarterly) or at the end of the class (if it only meets for a set time), the class should review what God has done and review requests that are still matters of active concern.
This should be a time of praise and thanksgiving to God. It can also be a time of appreciation and encouragement for those who took steps of follow up that were meaningful or challenging.
With a little more intentionality the time a Sunday School class or Bible study group already spends sharing prayer requests can be a much greater stimulus for ministry, unity, spiritual growth, and praise!