As you begin to make plans for starting an illness support group in your church or community, it can be easy to forget to pray, even about the simple things that have to do with your group.

Although you may have the best of plans, it will all be pointless if you do not first have a daily walk with God and spend time with Him in conversation.

Small Groups web site recently did a study and found the following results about the relationship between prayer and small group success:

83% of group leaders who have what they define as a strong prayer life had at least 1 person come to accept Christ into his or her life due partially to the group. Only 19% of those who said they had a weak prayer life could claim the same.

Leaders with a strong prayer life have groups have more than four times the evangelistic impact as groups led by leaders with a weak prayer life.

Are you familiar with the scripture John 15:5? It says, 'I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.'

Regardless of what tips you may discover in books, through friends, patient advocacy organizations, or church leadership trainings, remember to keep prayer always the first priority.

Note that the scripture does not say, 'I am the vine, you are the branches and he who gather together the most resources, seminary resources, books, funds and claims the most mentors, time, and energy will bear the most fruit.'

Prayer is a precious and essential tool that God has give to us to be able to communicate with Him. Without using it we are unable to do the work that God Himself has already planned in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Support groups for those with chronic illness in a Christian environment can be a special place where people are encouraged for this illness journey and then eventually become disciples themselves.

Together, let's set our goal on creating small group illness ministries that are much more than just your typical secular support group. Too frequently members of secular support groups find that rather than support, they are bombarded with members who are comparing pain, comparing amounts of medication, and even doubting the legitimacy of some of the illness symptoms.

Through small groups with a Christian environment, however, a special oasis for those with illness can be designed. It can be a place where the members and visitors feel safe, comfortable and accepted. Together, they can share about their daily challenges, but also what it is that gets them through the difficult times. It can become a place where God and illness can be spoken in the same sentence. People are provided with a place where they can find eternal hope, even when their temporary circumstances seem overwhelming.

If you are wondering where to start when it comes to starting a chronic illness support group in your church or community, the first step should be to turn to prayer and see where God leads you from there.

Author's Bio: 

What do you do after you pray? Get How to Start a Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry, a new book by Lisa Copen, founder of Rest Ministries. 320-pages of everything you need to know from passion to implementation.