Connecting with God Through Interactive Prayer

 
   
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Personal Prayer Power Leader Tips

The following are the tips for the leader from the introduction to the Leader's Guide found in the back of the PPP Action Guide:

In this series you'll be glad to know that you're a leader, not a teacher. You won't have to stand at a podium and give a lecture, look up facts or impart knowledge to your group. Instead you'll be leading life-changing discussions and encouraging others to try new ways of creating more powerful, interactive prayer times.

You don't need any special training or credentials for your role as a facilitator. All you need is an open heart and spirit, a willingness to lead a discussion and an enthusiasm for learning along with the class as you try out the daily activities yourself.

Interaction is Key!

Here are the interactive features of the series:
  1. Interacting with God. This is the ultimate goal of the series. Each week participants will be invited to spend a few minutes a day actively trying new ways of praying in their personal prayer times at home.
  2. Group interaction. Each session will begin with group discussion.

    On Day 1, the section entitled, "Rearview Mirror" asks 4 personal experience questions that make good discussion starters. Most people can answer these during class even if they haven't done the homework.

    On Days 2 - 4, the sections entitled "Getting God's Directions, Rest Stop and Changing Directions" require participants to actually try activities in order to have relevant ideas to share with the group. That's why it's important for you to try all of the activities yourself so you'll have something to offer if no one else volunteers.
  3. Interacting with the Bible. On Day 5, the section entitled "Scripture Signposts" encourages participants to apply specific verses to their life situations. You'll also find more scriptures in the Main Ideas from the Video sections and in many of the "Consider This" introductions to the daily activities.

    In classes where discussions occasionally lag, you can use this section to encourage dialogue and participation among class members by asking them to look up, read aloud and comment on these verses during class.
  4. Interacting with participants' frequently asked questions using the "Postcards from the Scenic Route" sections at the end of each lesson.

    This section is designed for class members who have questions like those posed on the postcards. This section isn't assigned as a daily activity and no student response or action is required after reading it.

    In the Leader's Guide you'll find one or two optional discussion questions about the Postcards if you feel that class members might have similar questions or concerns in their own lives. When using these questions it may be necessary to summarize the story before discussing it or to have class members read a short passage out loud since all students may not have read this section.

    Note that the subject of the "Postcards" in Session 2 centers on how to know Jesus personally. This is extremely important since the type of interactive prayer covered in this series is based on a personal relationship with Jesus and the resulting presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  5. Interacting with the video. At the end of each class session you'll show a 15 -17 minute video that discusses the types of prayer activities for the coming week. The video relates true personal experience that participants can compare and contrast to their own lives.
  6. Interacting with the topics. Each week you'll cover a different topic that will touch on concerns in everyone's life:
    • Interactive Prayer.
    • Finding an answer to each and every prayer by learning about action, presence and word answers.
    • How prayer shapes our future through divine intervention, personal choice and limiting forces.
    • Crisis praying.
    • Prayer and healing.
    • How prayer changes attitudes, with an emphasis on forgiveness.
    • Finding more time to pray using Pathway praying or praying on the go.
    • Making meditation and Stillness Praying more productive.
    • Prayer and depression and how prayer creates joy through praise and thanksgiving.
  7. Interacting with the group leader.

    Since the object of this series is to create prayer experiences rather than to impart knowledge about prayer, you as a leader can contribute greatly by personally doing all of the activities each week to see how they work and how they relate to your life. The more first-hand experiences you share with the participants, the greater the impact.

    It's highly recommended that you do one activity each weekday during your own quiet time rather than trying to do all five in one sitting when preparing to lead. This will give you a better chance to meditate and interact with God.

    Doing all of the activities each week will give you material to "prime the pump" in case participants seem reluctant to share.

    Be yourself and be honest. If something didn't work well for you, that's a valid result. Share it with the class. Chances are others have had the same experiences and will be more likely to share their problems and questions if you're open and honest.


Materials needed:

The materials needed for every class meeting are as follows:

Always double check electronics to make sure they're working before each class. Not every DVD is compatible with every player and not all electrical outlets are in convenient places!

Time

Be alert to the fact that at the end of every session you must allow at least 17 minutes to view the video segment. These video segments are extremely important because they go over ideas that the participants will be using in the coming week in their Action Guides.

It is suggested that the group meeting last 1.5 hours to allow ample time for discussion. For more information on how to adapt the material for shorter formats or Sunday School classes, please see the next section Adapting the PPP to Sunday School Classes.

A typical class schedule looks like this:

10 minutes: Gathering the group, introductions, counting answered prayers.

5-10 minutes: A short review of the main ideas from the video shown the previous week

45 minutes: Discussion and sharing of the results of the Action Guide homework activities done by the participants during the previous week.

20 minutes: Viewing the next video that introduces the topic that class members will be exploring at home in the coming week.

5-10 minutes: Summary and Closing prayer.

Important: The videos are shown at the end of the session because they introduce new material.

Class Prayer Time

Please remember that the emphasis in this series is on personal, private prayer. There are some individuals who may be uncomfortable because they don't feel they're very good at praying out loud. With this in mind, it's highly recommended that you choose opening and closing prayers that don't require every participant to pray out loud. You may choose to personally say a short beginning or ending prayer during class or ask for volunteers.

Another very effective way to pray is to offer silent prayer time. This will reinforce the idea of personal prayer and it gives God a chance to speak to individuals.

If you do call on a class member to pray out loud, be sure to ask them privately before class if they would be willing to do so. The goal is to make everyone feel at ease. It's your aim to help all members experience the great joy and pleasure of freely communicating with God, one-on-one in whatever way they best express themselves without worrying about how they might sound to others.

Another consideration is the sharing of prayer requests. If you're in a group that normally shares requests, make sure this takes up no more than 10 minutes of class time. Keep it simple and keep the emphasis on prayer answers rather than on requests. Be sensitive to the fact that people new to prayer may not have regular personal prayer times that can handle long lists of requests. (See the "Postcards from the Scenic Route" section in lesson 9 in the Action Guide on Prayer Request Overload.)

Confidentiality!

In the course of class discussions members may share personal matters. Please remind the class that all personal information shared in class is confidential.

Number of sessions in the Leader's Guide:

This guidebooks is designed to be used as either a 6 week or a 12 week series. When doing a six week series you would use Disc 1, lessons 1-6 and may opt to do one additional week in order to discuss the homework from video 6. If doing a 12 week series you would use Disc 1 and 2, lesson 1- 12.

In all there are 11 topics. During session one the first video segment will be shown. In a 12 week class, the final video will be shown during session 11. During session 12, no video will be shown and discussion will center on the homework from video 11.

About the Optional 100 Answered Prayer Challenge

The goal of the 100 Answered Prayer Challenge is to see how many answered prayers the class can collect over the course of the study. Each week class members are encouraged to write down at least one answer to prayer they've found during the last week using ideas from Sessions 2 and 3 about the three main categories of prayer answers which include action answers, presence answers and word answers.

Adapting the Personal Prayer Power Material to Sunday School Classes

When PPP was tested out in the Sunday school format most classes found that they wanted more time for class discussion than a one hour format allowed. Therefore, the minimum suggested time period is 1.5 hours to allow ample time for discussion and viewing of the video.

Below are some ideas for streamlining the materials for Sunday School use.

Sample time schedule when using PPP in Sunday School

This is based on a 50 minute time period because of the realities of late arrivals and early departures typical in most adult classes.

5 minutes: Introduction of new members, opening prayer, class attendance, etc.

5 minutes: Review of last week's main ideas that were used in homework activities using the "Main Ideas from the Video" section in the Action Guide.

15 minutes: Discussion and sharing what group members encountered when doing the weekly activities in the Action Guide.

20 minutes: View video that presents the topic of activities for the coming week.

Time is probably the biggest challenge when doing PPP in a one hour setting. However PPP can work in a Sunday school class if you deal with the challenges. Here are some challenges you might encounter along with suggestions on how to overcome these problems.

Problem 1: Time. We discovered that although the official time period of adult SS classes is 1 hour, actual teaching time was much less than this, sometimes as little as 30 minutes. This was due to late arrivals, class business, prayer request time and people leaving early for ushering, choir or nursery duties. If you're one of those classes that realistically only has 30 minutes of lesson time, remember that the videos last 15-17 minutes and are absolutely essential to the program. If you're one of those 30 minute classes, the PPP series might not be ideal for your class.

Classes that were successful in overcoming this problem did one or more of the following:

Problem 2: Sporadic student preparation time during the week. The heart and soul of the PPP series in the interactive use of the Action Guide at home during personal prayer. Some Sunday School class members are already in the habit of doing preparation at home for the lesson. However, our experience is that many adult SS class members are not used to preparing at home before class. Those who were most inclined to try the activities and write things down in their Action Guides were those who had been participants in Bible study groups where homework was part of the class.

Classes that were successful in overcoming this problem did one or more of the following: Problem 3: Unpredictable attendance patterns.

In our church, all classes across the board had class members who tended to miss Sunday school often for a variety of reasons including travels, other duties around the church, work obligations, illnesses etc. It wasn't unusual over a 12 week period to have some people who attended 11 times and others who attended 3 times or less.

Classes that were successful in overcoming this problem did one or more of the following: Problem 4: The class teacher was used to being a formal lecturer instead of as a group discussion leader.

Those conducting PPP groups act as leaders, not as formal teachers. Many established Sunday School classes have formal teachers who are used to teaching lessons where their role is to impart knowledge through a lecture type format that carefully leads the class to a predetermined concluding point. Although class members may be called on to answer questions posed by the formal teacher, these questions are carefully chosen to encourage the students to make certain responses that build toward the point the formal teacher wishes to make. Some formal teachers are dedicated to highly intellectual, in-depth study on contemporary issues and theology. Others take a scientific or analytical approach and like to teach using historical authorities rather than to focus on what can be learned from personal spiritual experience.

This is a valid and time-honored way of teaching. However these types of formal teaching methods don't work well in PPP. In the PPP series the teaching component is done through the videos and the person in charge of conducting the class is a discussion leader or a facilitator, not a formal teacher.

If you're considering leading the PPP series, consider these questions to help you decide whether the series will work with your class goals and teaching style. No answers to these questions may indicate that PPP is not suitable for your teaching style or goals. We hope that these questions will help you determine whether PPP suits your class and teaching style.