There is something so sweet to me about a summer Bible study! Schedules seem less demanding and, here in Texas, it is too hot to do much else but gather in the cool air-conditioned living room of a home, kick off your flip-flops, and study God’s Word with neighbors and friends. This is our third year offering a community-wide summer study through Lifeway. The number of small groups has grown every year since we started the study; this year, area churches joined in as well. What a picture of unity in a community!
We live in a small Texas city of about 100,000 people, and this year, we had over 250 women in our area walk through When You Pray. I personally asked some of my leaders to open their homes on various days of the week at different times to make the study available to as many women as possible. We encouraged ladies to invite neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family. We ended up with seventeen small groups meeting across the community. Most met in homes, but we also offered a study at each of our three church campuses for those not comfortable in someone’s home. We had studies that met almost every day of the week and at different times (morning, lunch, and evening) throughout the day. Other area churches organized their own studies based on what works best for their churches and participants.
Summer often dictates schedule changes. Some women’s schedules slow down, but other women have busy schedules all summer. Because of this, we encouraged the following tiered approach to this study:
The group leader purchases the group streaming bundle videos. Participants attend and watch the video and discuss with your small group (Bible study book not necessary) and join the community prayer night.
Tier 1 (watch the videos as a group), plus purchase a Bible study book, do the weekly personal study in the book, and join the community prayer night.
Purchase a Bible study book, do the personal study, watch the videos on your own, and join the community prayer night.
Most of our women chose Tier 2, but the flexibility of Tiers 1 and 3 made the study available to a wider group of women. Also, since every Bible study book comes with access to the teaching videos, women who had to miss a week or two were able to stay up-to-speed with the study and connect with their small group.
At the end of July, we hosted a community prayer night for everyone who was involved in the study. We gathered around tables with ladies from all the different small groups and churches and discussed our favorite takeaways. We included a time of prayer and worship and then walked through a guided prayer experience that covered the different types of prayer that we had studied (petition, adoration, lament, intercession, and unity). The room was filled with ladies of all ages and stages of life. We had girls who had just graduated from high school and college as well as women in their late eighties!
Here are some of their takeaways from this summer study:
“I had no idea there were different types of prayer. It was great to learn about them and how to apply them to my own prayer life.”
“The most important thing for me this summer was understanding that it is all right—and good—to pray anywhere. Now, I pray in the shower, in the car, and at my workstation!”
“This study helped me become more comfortable with the way I pray and gave me new tools to help me pray in a more meaningful and in-depth way. It also helped me connect with those who are around me in varying seasons of their spiritual lives.”
“The Bible is full of examples of how to pray. I am thankful for the women teachers in this study. I am thankful for the unity in having over 250 women in our community studying the same thing.”
“This is one of the best studies I have done! I loved dividing the different prayers into different weeks. I learned so much about how I need to change my prayer life and deepen my prayer and love for my Lord.”
“These lessons on prayer have made me focus on the attributes of God more and my ‘wish list’ less. I’m praying more for the spiritual and heart needs when interceding for others.”
“I so enjoyed getting together with my ladies in a casual and private setting to study God’s Word.”
As a women’s ministry leader, this type of study is one of my very favorite things we do all year long. Can I challenge you to see if the Lord is asking you to lead out in your town and community? Start with a small group in your own home and help cast the vision for a community Bible study in your area. It’s incredible to see what the Lord will do in and through you!
Ready to study prayer with your small group? Check out When You Pray: A Study of Six Prayers in the Bible. Over 7 sessions, you’ll join six beloved Bible teachers—Kelly Minter, Jackie Hill Perry, Jen Wilkin, Jennifer Rothschild, Jada Edwards, and Kristi McLelland—to study prayers in the Bible that can inspire your own. As you draw near to God through prayer, you’ll find your faith strengthened and your heart united to Christ. Order your copy today at lifeway.com/whenyoupray.
About Anne Harrison
Anne Harrison is the director of women’s ministries at First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas. She is a Lifeway Trainer as well as serves on the Lifeway Women Event Team and assists Simulcast event planners as a simulcast specialist. She and her husband, Jim, have three sons who keep their house full of fun. Anne is a graduate of Texas A&M University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where she earned a Master of Arts in Ministry to Women. Some of her favorite things include going to her boys’ sporting events with her husband and Starbucks cold-brew coffee. Her passion is connecting women with the God Who loves their souls and with other women who will encourage them to grow and flourish.