Many years ago, evangelist S. D. Gordon said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is to pray.” After 25 years of leading small groups and coaching small group leaders, I have come to one clear conviction: prayer is the most important activity of the small group leader. If a small group leader could do only one thing to make the group more effective, that one thing would be to pray.

Prayer is a fascinating tool for the person with a heart to minister to others. It is one of the simplest things we can do. All we need to do is sit down and lift someone tip to the attention of God. Yet most of its will admit that it is one of the hardest things to do for others. We get busy. We get distracted. We get discouraged, and we just don’t pray enough.

Highly effective small group leaders view prayer as a non-negotiable aid in their ministry to others. They use it often and well. They build it into their daily schedules and make it a high priority. They don’t just pray a little; they pray a lot.

The second habit of the highly effective small group leader: Pray for group members daily.

You cannot find an effective spiritual leader in the Bible, or in history, who was not a person of prayer. This is the reality today as well. A survey of small group leaders revealed an interesting correlation between time spent in prayer and small group multiplication. It revealed that leaders who spent 90 minutes or more in daily devotions multiplied their groups twice as often as those who spent less than half an hour.’ Taking the time to pray makes a difference!

Prayer is the most important task as a small group leader. Success here will make success in the other habits much easier. Failure here will make success in the other habits nearly impossible.

— The 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders by Dave Earley