Inspired by The Art of Group Talk: How to Lead Better Conversations with Teenage Girls, I decided to start 2018 with an emphasis on praying for my few. I’ve always prayed for my girls, but usually in a haphazard way using general terms or painstakingly trying to recall the requests they’d tossed out the last time we met.

In The Art of Group Talk, the authors talk about how you should pray for your few not only because they need it, but also because you need it. They say:

When we pray for someone else, we learn to . . .
consider their needs.
imagine their world.
feel their emotions.
understand their perspective.

So, at the beginning of January, I reached out to each of my girls and explained that God had put it on my heart to pray for the people He’d placed in my life, and that included them. I finished with the simple question, “What are two or three things I can be praying for you about this semester?”

My girls’ responses varied from vague to specific, and there were even one or two who chose silence. In less than a month, I’ve already seen so much happen because of this simple question and my commitment to pray. I don’t know that any of my few’s requests have been answered yet, but I can see how prayer is shaping our relationships.

Here are three ways I’m seeing this play out:

It’s softened my heart toward them. Leading high schoolers can be a lot of fun. But, let’s be honest, some weeks are less enjoyable than others. Having an idea what’s going on in my few’s worlds gives me far more patience on the days when they’re indecisive, moody, or just don’t show up.

It’s given us a reason to connect. The actions of following up and letting the girls know I’m thinking of them at specific times has provided an outlet for ongoing conversation. Instead of seeing them every Sunday and starting all over again with, “So, what’s new?” I’m able to keep the conversations rolling from week to week. That doesn’t mean we don’t talk about new stuff—it just makes for a less awkward start.

It’s made group conversations more dynamic. Knowing what’s going on in the lives of my few has changed how I approach conversations in small group. This doesn’t mean I bring up the private things my few have asked me to pray for—but it does mean I can be extra sensitive to the topics that matter most to them.

I’m not an especially spiritual person. Talking about prayer isn’t part of my small group’s DNA. I just had a desire to be more conscientious of those around me, and to let my few know they’re being thought of and loved throughout the week. And it’s been fun to see what sincerely asking, “What can I pray for?” has done in both one-on-one relationships and small group dynamics.

If regularly praying for your few isn’t something that you engage in, then I really encourage you to try to. It’s for your benefit as much as it is for them. And if you are, then I encourage you to share that experience with your small group leader peers. Passion breeds passion.

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With over a decade of experience leading students and volunteers, Steph now spends her days investing in church leaders and families as part of the Orange team—primarily as the Editorial Alignment Manager for Orange Books. She lives in metro Atlanta with her husband, Tim, and their son, Landon. Steph is a co-author of The Volunteer Project: Stop Recruiting. Start Retaining. You can read more of her thoughts at stephwhitacre.com.

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