“But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)
Can you keep a secret?
It isn’t easy. Especially in this era of social media and over-sharing in general. Platforms are everywhere, and so are opportunities to exchange information. Privacy seems relegated to doctors’ offices and credit card disclaimers. Technology (often with our consent) invades our lives, and we wonder if, in this day and age, it’s even possible to keep something secret.
But Jesus says we should shut the door. In context, he is speaking to believers about what’s public versus what’s private and perhaps more importantly, what our motives are.
I have known very few true “gossips” in my life, but whether it’s called casual conversation, small talk, chit-chat or the buzz, every one of us is guilty of loose talk from time to time. And we can all agree that gossip is damaging. The Bible speaks to this frequently. In fact, one site ( www.openbible.info/topics/gossip ) lists 100 scriptures on gossip. I challenge you to look it up and do a quick scroll. There is ample proof; God takes this seriously.
This idea of confidentiality is central to how we pray for and with one another. It is vital to the kind of trust needed to nurture and encourage fellow women. In this place, we may come out of hiding and expose our inner selves, and we will be honored and lifted to the One who can truly help.
We may belong to many groups for many different purposes: old friends, colleagues, social sororities, mom groups, school groups, hobby groups. Or we may be less social–a couple of close friends perhaps, or just one’s own family. Discretion may or may not be required.
But prayer group is unique. It is a holy place. A prayer group needs to be a safe place.
Here, we get real with God–we tell him what’s on and in our hearts. It is a place of adoration, conviction, confession, and redemption. Prayer is all about honest and open communication. It gets messy sometimes. Therefore, prayer group must be held gently and tightly at the same time. We hold each other in an open hand; we hold what is said in a closed fist.
As we gather to pray, not just talk but really pray, we must be confident that what we share is not communicated outside the prayer circle (unless permission is expressly given). If we truly desire to be vulnerable with God and one another, we must be assured that what’s prayed in group, stays in group.
Proverbs 21:23 says, “The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Isn’t that the truth! How easy it is to spill the beans with another believer, a husband or a good friend. Perhaps you are genuinely concerned, and it just slips out. “She found a lump in her breast.” “Her kids are filing for divorce.” “Her husband cheated.” We don’t intend to gossip, but the result is the same: betraying a confidence.
You know what? That kills praying together. If we are going to get “spiritually naked” in front of one another, we may not want the whole world to know where the “tattoos” are. You know what I mean. (And no, I don’t literally have any tattoos…yet.) We must feel safe.
But what happens if I mess up? Oh sweet girl, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” That is one of the “imperfectly” parts of Imperfectly Brave. As we learn how to pray transparently for ourselves and for others, we will make mistakes. We get to confess those, so we can forgive and be forgiven. And we learn. And we grow. Not just by ourselves, but with one another. Privately and prayerfully.
What concerns you more about being part of a prayer group–being hurt or hurting someone else?
So how does a prayer group achieve this level of trust? Besides staying fairly small (three to five women), it must be a “closed,” committed group. It isn’t a place for visitors or people who come only occasionally.
When forming your prayer group (and from time to time), remind one another about your HIPA policy (Holy Information Privacy Agreement). What’s prayed in group, stays in group.
Hold all prayer requests as “top secret.” Ask permission before you share anything with anyone outside the group. Even sharing out of the purest motives can hurt someone else.
Decide ahead of time to forgive and be forgiven. It will come in handy.
Read more about starting and maintaining a prayer group here.