Ministry Matters is a series of articles dealing with practical ideas for ministry. The hope is to help generate ideas that serve to build up the church.
Ministry Matters: Prayer Triads
Our church encourages both men and women to form small groups of accountability partners called “Prayer Triads” (there are also some “Prayer Duos” and “Prayer Squares” among us). The intent is to encourage a deeper level of intimacy, sharing, confession, and prayer than can usually be found in a small group ministry. A group of three people narrows our relational focus (we can’t share everything with everyone) and expands the depth of intimacy.
Prayer triads meet on a regular basis, with the frequency dependent on the members of the group. Some meet every week, others meet once a month. It’s helpful if there’s relational overlap in other areas, like being in the same Bible study or small group or living in the same part of town. It’s also vital that each member in the group feels the freedom to be honest and open with each other.
One goal of prayer triads is to provide a place to freely discuss our doubts, fears, sins, and weaknesses, trusting in the power of prayer as we confess to one another.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).
Another hope is to create a rich community within our church. Triads are not created to form small cliques, but rather as a means to create pockets of community that serve to foster discipleship and growth in the Christian life. As smaller parts of the larger community are fortified and strengthened, the entire body is built up.
Our church does not organize prayer triads in any formal way. Truthfully, it’s a bit like trying to set someone up on a date. Personalities don’t always work together. While you may know three individuals who you think are great, the group dynamics might not be the best for a prayer triad. I encourage people to look for someone they naturally connect with and see if he or she would be interested in meeting. Then those two can think together about a third person that they could invite.
I encourage groups to commit to one another for a year, and then reevaluate, giving one another the freedom to leave the group if needed. Changing groups can sometimes be difficult, but seeking deeper friendships and accountability is worth the risk.
I’ve met with my current prayer triad for over seven years. We’ve wept together and rejoiced together. We have weathered disappointments, deaths, and doubts. We have sought one another for wisdom and insight. We have shared meals and provided meals for each other. When unexpected life happens, I know I can call these ladies and they will lift me up in prayer. When sin weighs heavy and temptation beckons, I can come in weakness and confession. We listen to one another. We confront one another. We love one another. We pray for one another.
The Christian life is deeply relational. We need one another. While Jesus had perfect intimacy within the Trinity, He still chose to call twelve to be disciples and three (Peter, James and John) to accompany Him during His transfiguration. He modeled for us the importance of community. If you’d like to start one of these groups, I’ve found the following questions from Donald Whitney a helpful place to begin. Another option to help generate discussion on a variety of topics is the monthly Three Questions series. Taking the time to go deeper with one another is a blessing that strengthens the entire body.