Ok ok, so starting a prayer group isn't that hard. Have people over. Pray. Done-and-done.
There are a lot of preconceived notions surrounding a group of ladies coming together to pray.
1. It sounds like a snooze-fest.
It's ok...I know you're thinking it, so we may as well get it out into the open. Let's talk about that elephant in the room. You think praying for hours on end sounds boring.
I often fall asleep after praying for five minutes at bedtime! How on EARTH am I going to pray for an hour or two (or in our group's case...five or six)?!
It's ok to be nervous, and even maybe a little intimidated or insecure about the idea. But get over it. If you like to talk (and if you're a woman, you probably do!) then keep reading and you'll see how talking and sharing is a big portion of praying (aside from the obvious talking to God part).
2. Who would I invite?
When my friend Jamie and I first begun talking about starting a group, we came together with a list of names.
We knew we wanted to keep the group small. Intimate. We wanted a core group of women who loved Jesus fiercely. Were these our best friends? No. In fact, some of the ladies were only acquaintances, women we knew by reputation more than anything.
What was their reputation?
Jamie and I knew each woman on our lists to be bold women who lived in expectation that Jesus would move. Many had been through junk and hard-things and came out shimmering.
They're the ladies who talk about God in normal every-day conversation with whomever, simply because He's so important in their lives that they can't help but talk about Him.
The funny thing is that because Jamie and I sat down separately, but with the same deep petition to Christ...He answered very clearly. Our lists were very similar. I tacked a few names on that she didn't know...she added a few whom I didn't yet know.
And then we sent invitations.
NOTE: I'm not saying these are the only INCREDIBLE, Jesus loving friends we know. Our lists could have been much, much longer. But because we asked God to put the group together and to give us names HE wanted on it, He made it very clear what six women (plus Jamie and I) He wanted to form a group with.
3. What did the invitations say?
Since even godly women sometimes get freaked out about praying as as group (especially since it's a group of randoms...we didn't all know one another!), we wanted to share our hearts and purpose.
I can't find the actual invitation but it said something like this:
We've been so busy living life that somehow community was left behind. You too? We are desperate for Pause and for Prayer. Not rushed time with the Lord, but on our face time with Him. We know you to be a woman who is desperate for Him, as well. Your relationship with Christ is captivating and we want to be like you. Maybe you want to be a little like us, too.
We are inviting you to be part of an intimate group of women who love Jesus passionately. Fervently. And who want to grow deeply. Want to meet over dinner once a month and just pray your guts out with us?
And guess what. They were in. Not only were they interested, but each of them was praying for this very thing!!
4. How DO you pray for that long?
Though praying for hours and hours sounds daunting, intimidating, and well...kind of exhausting, it's totally not. Before you think that we're all sitting cross-legged in a circle, eyes closed, and heads bowed for what feels like centuries, here's the reality:
There's a lot of laughing. And often crying.
Each of us goes around and shares what's going on in life. Sometimes it's day-to-day kid struggles or job stuff. But we've also gone through cancer, divorce, job loss, miscarriages, relationship devastation, and tons more.
One woman will talk and share what's going on in life, highlighting specific prayers she'd love to have...then one (or more) of us will stop and pray for her. Once the prayer is done, the next girl begins sharing. Uninterrupted.
Questions are fine, but the other ladies are not allowed to chime in and give their experiences, etc. This is not social hour. Not that this is an actual rule...it's just an unspoken and assumed one.
6. Where do you gather?
Sometimes we're inside at the dining table or lounging on the couches in the family room. Other times, on beautifully warm evenings, we'll head outdoors. Sometimes we'll have dinner, other times just snacks, dessert, or wine.
It's not so much what we serve...
but what we bring to the table in the way of conversation, honesty, and an open heart for God to do big things.
This photo above and text below is from just after my girls left for the night (May 2016) and I was starting the dishwasher and turning off lights:
See this living room right here? God anointed it tonight...if it wasn't anointed already. #petraprayergroup met here this evening for 4 hours. That's right, we prayed for four hours.
We shared life and bread and wine and prayed over one another.
We have cancer. We have marital issues.
We have work issues and kid issues.
We have friends and family who are struggling.
We have praises and joys and miracles and answered prayers.
We have all this because HE LOVES US and is actively part of our lives. Our God is not one who watches from afar. He does not let us flounder on our own. No. He walks with us. He carries us.
And ohhhhhhh I'm so thankful it's this kind of God that we serve.
Lord, thank you so much for this amazing group of women who want so desperately to put You first, love You wholeheartedly, and be the women You've created us to be. 💛💕
5. I can just pray on my own. What's the point?
The point is that we don't live life alone but in community. The point is to remember Matthew 18:20.
It's been several years now that we've been met once a month to pray over each other. But few short months after we began, I posted a photo on Instagram. Beneath it, I wrote these words:
Just finished our Prayer Group. As my sweet friend closed us in the most beautiful time before the Throne, I felt God whispering..."These girls. They're your Rock. They're your Peter. Trust them. Love them. They're Mine."
So thankful for reaching out to a bunch of Godly women I didn't know well...but wanted to know better. Ladies I knew love Jesus deeply.
I had no idea if they had a community of women they already embraced in prayer. And you know what?! They didn't either. So now we are. Two months in and HE is so very present.
And so we became Petra.
This is what some of my Petra girls are saying...
"It's a place where I'm not too much or too little. Where I can be myself even before I've figured out who that is exactly ; ) in the bond of Christ." -- AnneMarie
"When I think of Petra, the first word that comes to mind is Lifeline." --Tamara
"I love this group so much! I just picture when Moses was holding his arms up to part the Red Sea. Remember when he got so tired and his brother Aaron and (who else -Joshua??) came behind him and held his arms up? That's what you girls are to me. When I'm fighting, clawing through life to hang on to God by my fingernails and navigating the hard of life, you girls hold me up." --Amy
Think you might start your own prayer group? What makes you want to...or NOT want to?