Let me ask you to think for a moment. If you were going to gather a group of women to pray together, whom would you ask?
Would you ask friends who share years of history with you? Would you ask people from your church or faith-based group? Would they be women from your neighborhood, your sorority sisters, or that group of girls you hang out with once a month? Would you ask co-workers, or women who are in your same stage of life?
These groups, in their different ways, are important to us. But how do you choose someone to pray with?
Imperfectly Brave was birthed from a small prayer group formed by a few women in Whitney Putnam’s little white church on the hill next to the peacock farm. I caught the vision, and my prayer ladies all come from different churches. (In fact when it started, I wasn’t in a church!) Whitney’s group are all young mothers; my group has two working moms of teenagers and two who are on Medicare.
A prayer group, like each woman, is uniquely individual. And, like us, it is formed for a purpose–to pray. That purpose may enhanced, or sabotaged, by the dynamics of the group. Certain things are non-negotiable.
All group members must be Christian believers. Prayer group is not the place where you bring “Sally,” who is New Age but so hungry for spiritual things. Prayer group is not an evangelistic tool, although God may use the group (or individual members) to minister and to reach others outside the group. If I may use the military example, think of it this way. If your commander sends a special ops team behind enemy lines, would it be wise to invite a civilian with no training or commitment to go on the mission with you? The Bible puts it this way:
“Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Christians are to have a beautiful, non-judgemental relationship with unbelievers. It’s called witnessing. We are to love them, speak the truth of the gospel to them, and by the power and mercy of the Holy Spirit, draw them into the presence of God. But we are not in fellowship with those who do not believe. A prayer group is a partnership, an intimate relationship, and as such it must be comprised of believers.
A group must have unity. Act 1:14 says this about the early believers: “All these were continually united in prayer….” Over the centuries, we’ve traveled a long way from the simplicity of the first church, and we’ve brought along a lot of theological baggage. So, do our prayer partners have to be from the same church? The answer differs for each individual and group. Being from the same church might be helpful; you already share a lot of spiritual focus that comes from meeting together corporately. On the other hand, I can attest that an ecumenical group can be lovely.
The important thing is the unity of our mission: praying with and for one another–before the Father, in the name of Jesus the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Imperfectly Brave’s core belief statement can be found at https://www.imperfectlybrave.com/what-we-believe/ ) If there is doctrine that is vital to your faith, praying with women from your own church might be wisest. However, we women are more alike than we are different. We often find that, when we open up to each other, we are pretty much on the same path.
Amos 3:3 poses this rhetorical question: “Can two walk together without agreeing to meet?” Suppose we take this idea as an image of the holy act of praying together. Picture yourself walking arm-in-arm with someone. You’re both headed the same direction; you have the same destination in mind; you are in “agreement.” This is the vision of a prayer group–women consistently meeting together to lift each other up.
With whom will you pray? Her, and maybe her. You know–the ones you are thinking about. They will get it. Just ask them, “Do you want to pray with me?” You can find our prayer group checklist HERE
Would you join a weekly prayer group if someone asked you? Why or why not?