Does Prayer Time Get the Leftovers?

Do you regularly find yourself with more meeting than time?

Most of the small groups I have participated in have been structured the same way.

  • Food and fellowship
  • Prayer
  • Bible study and discussion
  • Prayer requests and Prayer
  • Adjourn

Members seem to respond well to the structure. In part, it may be because this is a similar structure to a traditional church service.


If not careful, a problem can occur using this structure in a small group. The prayer request time and closing prayer tend to get whatever time is left over at the end. This is a problem when the conversation goes on and on with no one in the group keeping track of time. If this is deliberate, then great! From time to time you may be prompted by Holy Spirit to extend the conversation. However, if it becomes a habit and is not deliberate, your small group is going to suffer. You will not have adequate time to listen to each person’s celebrations and concerns.

I have experienced this in a past group I attended. The discussion time became the predominant piece of the meeting. At one meeting it was realized that there was very little time left for prayer. The group leader decided to do a closing prayer and then have everybody share their prayer requests after the meeting either by writing them down and turning them in or sending an email etc. Unfortunately, this went on a few weeks until it became the routine.

What I discovered when this happened was that I missed that prayer request time. Not because I wanted to share my answers to prayer and burdens with the group and not because I needed more information about what to pray for. I wanted to hear firsthand from each group member what they were going through. I connected better with them when we had that time during our small group meeting. It wasn’t the same to get a list and email each week.

3 Ways to Adequate Prayer Time

I challenge you to ensure there is adequate prayer time at your small group meeting. Here are three simple ways you can try out to make it happen.


It is easy for the group leader to get so caught up in the conversation that the clock is forgotten. This is not a bad thing because it demonstrates you are being present for your group members.

If this is your challenge, have a member appointed to be the timekeeper. The timekeeper can inform you when each activity of the evening needs to start and end. You can also use a timer with an alarm. But I prefer a timekeeper because there are times when an alarm going off in the middle of a critical moment in a conversation is not appropriate.

Flip It Over

What if the agenda for the meeting was turned upside down? Turned on its head? What if the agenda was changed so prayer time was done at the beginning of the meeting:

  • Prayer requests and prayer
  • Bible Study and Discussion
  • Prayer
  • Food and fellowship
  • Adjourn

The agenda would no longer leave whatever available time was left over to prayer requests. It could make the prayer request time appear to be higher priority.

Change Prayer Time

If you currently go around the circle and have each member share their answers to prayer and prayer requests and then all/many of the members pray, this can take a significant amount of time. Consider changing how prayer request time is accomplished. Each person could be limited to one prayer request. One person could close in prayer. The group could break up into smaller groups of 2 or 3 to share and pray.

Changing how prayer time is accomplished can save time, but still allow the personal connection important to your small group.

Question: What are additional ways small groups leaders can ensure they make adequate room for prayer time?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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