Leading group prayer online in a prayer call is a great way of using the wonders of modern technology to bring advancement to the Kingdom of God.
The Holy Spirit can still connect with each person, wherever they live, and build a sense of fellowship, give direction and lead powerful anointed times of prayer.
Kairos moments can happen, and God is glorified.
However, praying as a group in an online format is slightly different from praying together as a group in room at a Church.
Here are some of the principles we have found to help conduct online group prayer meetings.
As with any prayer meeting, it is essential to set clear expectations for people.
This is especially true in an online group prayer meeting.
Announce the meeting time clearly. For calls that involve people joining from different time zones, make sure that people know what time the meeting is going to be in their local time.
Establish at the beginning how long the call is going last.
An hour is a reasonable length of time. Two hours is probably the longest you want to go for a single prayer meeting. We have learned that leading a group prayer call online takes more mental and emotional energy than you might expect. So, people tire quickly.
Come with a clear theme to focus on; that way, people will be ready and prepared to enter a time of prayer.
Make sure people have access to the login information for the call.
You cannot over-communicate this. If you send out the call information several days in advance, make sure to resend on the day of the prayer meeting.
Notice, the login email can easily get buried inside the multiple emails people receive daily.
It is helpful to begin the call a few minutes early. Start five or ten minutes early to allow people to get online and comfortable.
It will enable troubleshooting any problems people may have. It can be helpful to have a dedicated individual who can assist people as they encounter technical issues. That way, the prayer leader can focus on leading the prayer meeting rather than troubleshooting.
Developing A Sense Of Community
As you begin a prayer time, it is good to have the opportunity to develop community.
If it is a regular team of people meeting together to pray, it is good to have “check-in” time, where everyone can share how things are going for them.
If the group is larger, this can take too long, but it is good to take the time for people to say who they are and where they are calling in from for the call.
This takes some time but is valuable for building a sense of community and making the prayer call feel like a safe space for people. When it’s neglected people are slightly more hesitant and less willing to share.
The practice at PRMI is to cover all we do in prayer; we have onsite intercessors at events and if possible, it is helpful to have intercessors who can pray for the call.
There are a lot of technical issues that can frustrate a prayer meeting. Situations at home can distract people from focusing on what they are doing in the meeting.
Having one or two intercessors praying during the meeting is very helpful.
Suggested Elements for a Prayer Meeting
There are many ways to pray, which is why identifying a clear theme for the call is helpful.
Many of the PRMI prayer times have focused upon intercession and specifically spirit-led intercession.
For this to be effective, there are several useful elements: listening prayer, praise, discernment, petition, and intercession.
A Sound of Praise
Begin a time of prayer with the opportunity for praise and thanksgiving. Praise is a great way to start.
Praise helps individuals transition from what they have been doing into being focused upon the Lord.
This part of the prayer is a great time to share and pray into Scripture.
Taking time to listen to God for His direction is very important.
As individuals, we all have great ideas about what and how we should be praying.
But if we pause and listen for what the Holy Spirit is saying, we will be able to be aligned with his will and purposes for the prayer time.
The result is that the prayer time will become Spirit led rather than human driven.
Read More: 6 Ways God Speaks to You in Prayer
Set a specific time in the call to listen in quiet and stillness. Five minutes is generally a reasonable time frame for that.
Ask everyone to remain silent for the five minutes. Some people hear from the Lord quicker than others, but five minutes will allow everyone to listen for a moment.
If you can, mute everyone on the call so that there is no distractions present.
Give people a one-minute notice before the end of the quiet time, so that they can journal anything that the Lord may be speaking to them individually.
Remind people that sometimes the Lord will speak to individuals about personal matters during this time, and for others, the Lord will give words for the corporate body.
As they go into the time of listening, encourage them to discern what they are receiving from the Lord.
Sharing Discernment and Guidance
Once the listening time has finished, take time to share what the Lord has been saying.
With a small group (up to ten people), you can simply go around and ask each person what they heard during the quiet time.
With larger groups, give those who want to share the opportunity to do so.
Encourage people to share briefly, the central theme of what they heard from the Lord.
The purpose is to determine the main idea the Lord has stirred up in your heart, so that you have a direction for the prayer time.
This can be done collectively, or the leader may determine what the main themes are from the discernment and what order you want to pray for them. Then, the leader will introduce the first subject and invite the people to pray into it.
Best Practices For Online Prayer Meetings
There are several practices can best be employed to make this prayer time run smoothly.
Practice Taking Notes
Take notes or assign a specific person to take notes, to record what happened during the prayer call.
The things to note are the discernment that was shared, any Scripture passages the Lord revealed, and a general overview of how the prayer time went.
These notes can be reviewed at each prayer time. Together they can begin to show broader themes that the Lord is calling the group to pray into.
Sometimes, it is possible to make a recording of the prayer time, which can be helpful to go back and recheck words of discernment that were given.
Practice Muting Microphones
Asking people to mute their microphones if they are not talking is helpful (if not essential) for any online group prayer call.
The noise of a phone in the background or the sound of traffic or road works can be very distracting for people as they try to pray.
Even worse is a loud echo sound that can come on as someone’s microphone picks up the speaker, that gives a startling reverberation throughout the call.
You may need to remind people to unmute themselves before they speak. But this simple thing can make a difference between a poor and a great prayer call.
If the host has the power to mute individuals, it may be necessary to do that and manually mute a noisy mic, which is causing interference.
The rest of the people on the call will thank you!
Practice Stating Your Name
Encourage people to give their name each time they begin to speak.
This practice of stating names each time is not as crucial for a small group who meets regularly but is more for a larger group.
It helps people remember who everyone is, and if there are people who choose to just join in by phone. They can follow the prayer time with greater ease.
Encourage Scripture Use
It is always great when somebody quotes Scripture, as they pray. But it is beneficial that they also state the location of the Word found in Scripture.
The person taking notes can record it. If it helps, people can always record their Scripture verses in the chat window that most conference platforms have in the call.
Encourage people to pray the Scriptures and not just quote them, unless they are just sharing for discernment purposes.
For example, if someone was to get 2 Corinthians 7:10 they could recite it:
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)
Then, they could turn it into a prayer something like… “Lord, we pray that you would give us a godly sorrow for the things which we have done that offend you. Lord, lead us into repentance for these things. I confess…”
The KISS principle is beneficial for all prayer meetings and especially the ones held online.
KISS: Keep It Short and Simple
With having multiple people on the call, it is easy for an individual to take over and dominate sharing during a time of prayer.
As a leader, you need to reinforce the need to keep things concise.
This helps everyone who has joined the call be able to participate. It is often necessary to repeat this idea a few times until people catch on to the flow and begin working together.
The chat feature can be helpful for people to share a Scripture, or an agreement with what is being prayed or even a longer word that they feel needs to be shared.
It becomes a great encouragement to the people who are praying to see a message, “I agree,” “Amen,” or “I had that same verse!” since the mics will be muted on the opposite end.
Build In Prayer And Pray In Agreement
Praying in agreement is a directive of Scripture.
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gathers in my name, there am I with them.”Matthew 18:19–20
Building on another person’s prayer is a great way to pray in one accord and to be able to press into specific areas of prayer.
Often in online prayer meetings, everyone prays for what they feel led to pray for, and the result being a somewhat scattered prayer time.
For example, someone prays for a pastor. Then, the next person prays for the poor in the world. Next, you pray for Joe who is in a hospital. Followed by, a prayer for the pastors’ sermon to be short on Sunday. Finally, you pray for the missionaries you know in Africa.
The result is a lot of prayers, all over the place.
Building prayer would perhaps begin by focused time, praying for the pastor.
Someone would begin by praying for pastor Bill. Then, someone would follow that by praying for the process of sermon preparation.
Followed by someone else praying for the preparations during the worship service.
Someone may share a Scripture and pray into it, followed by prayer for his family and someone else asks for wisdom as he intends to lead the prayer meeting on Thursday.
So, the prayer would continue until that subject has been exhausted. Then you move on to another topic of prayer like the missionaries in the congregation, Joe in the hospital, etc.
This type of prayer requires everyone to work together as a team. Everyone needs to be listening to the Holy Spirit and each other.
You can read more about building in prayer:
How To Troubleshoot During A Prayer Call?
Sometimes facilitating an online prayer meeting can feel a lot like herding cats.
It may be necessary to remind people of the instructions throughout the prayer meeting.
“Let me just remind you to keep things brief when you share, so everyone has an opportunity to pray.”
Encouraging people along the way, “why don’t you pray that Scripture out now that you have quoted it?” So, it can help people to move deeper into prayer through the Word.
One of the more significant challenges is the person who tries to take over the meeting (usually unintentionally), by praying for extended times or oversharing when it comes to giving discernment.
One way of stepping in is to simply say, “Amen.”
That is often enough of a sign to make them pause for a second.
Then you can simply thank them for what they have shared and remind people that we want to keep things brief, so everyone has an opportunity to share.
You can use the same technique of “Amen, now let’s return to the theme which we were just praying for, I don’t think we have finished there yet,” when somebody tries to pray “off topic.”
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)
Praying in an online format is different from praying together as a group in room at a Church or home fellowship prayer meeting.
The Holy Spirit can still move by the prayers prayed on the internet and enable this powerful work of prayer, uniting us across the globe!
Thank you Martin. The article is very helpful. You might include cautioning participants against using the chat feature for chatting, or jokes, or sidebar conversations. I noticed that the chat boxes were distracting to the teacher, and the off-topic comments brought down the level of serious engagement. Chatter can make things difficult when we meet in person, and likewise, when we are online. The chat feature should be reserved for sharing scripture or discernment.
I appreciate your willingness to share what you have learned.
Thank you Martin and Chris for sharing so clearly and succinctly. You have helped me clarify the direction for a prayer meeting that I will be leading tonight.
Thank you Martin and Chris for sharing such knowledge, l have a three day conference coming next week and l will be leading.