Prayer can be a very private thing. It’s communication and conversation with God, which often makes it a time to share fears, hopes, and secret requests with the Creator of the universe. That’s not a conversation to be interrupted, and it’s rarely a conversation that people want to share, but prayer can be a much bigger thing. It can involve and foster community. Group retreats bring together many people to grow in God, and one of the best ways to do that is by practicing corporate prayer. It can take a variety of forms, but all communal prayer accomplishes the same goals: intimacy with God and intimacy among fellow believers.
- Small groups. Praying out loud requires vulnerability, and one of the best introductory methods to this is praying in groups of two or three. After a worship service, before a meal, in the midst of a talk, participants can break into small groups and share their hearts. People will likely be drawn to pray with others they know, but it will still bond and unify the group as a whole, which is a central ambition of most group retreats.
- Popcorn. As people become more comfortable with the idea of sharing their prayers out loud, many gain the courage to pray in front of many people. Popcorn prayer is a series of little blurbs—praising God, requests for healing, and expressions of gratitude—anything that God puts on the heart of participants. They’re not required to stand up in front of an auditorium and launch a huge prayer; they can pray corporately from their seats.
- Korean style. Though rare in America, this method of corporate prayer has become more and more common at group retreats. In essence, every person in the room prays out loud at the same time. It’s terrifying to first timers, but it creates a setting and unified voice that exudes communion with God. Because it forces everyone to abandon insecurities and speak openly to the Lord, it can open community better than any other method. That community and closeness with God surpass any other outcome of retreats, which makes corporate prayer a good thing.