Participant Reading Week Three PRAYER

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1 Participant Reading Week Three PRAYER There is a place f quiet rest near t the heart f Gd. Oh Jesus, blessed redeemer, sent frm the heart f Gd. Hld thse wh cme befre thee near t the heart f Gd. Cleland B. McAfee Prayer is that which brings us near t the heart f Gd. Prayer is nt talk abut Gd, r even simply talking t Gd. Prayer is abut being in fellwship with Gd thrugh wrds and silence. Prayer is a natural respnse t the Gd wh lngs t be in relatinship with us. Prayer invlves a willingness t surrender urselves t Gd s purpses and t trust in Gd s ability t care fr us. There are different types f prayer: praise, cnfessin, thanksgiving and supplicatin (r petitin). In prayers f praise, we wrship and adre Gd; we give thanks t Gd simply fr being wh Gd is. In cnfessin, we acknwledge ur sin and place ur trust nt nly in Gd s frgiveness, but in the pwer f his grace t change, renew and transfrm us. Thanksgiving springs frm ur jy and willingness t acknwledge Gd s gifts and blessings in ur lives. In supplicatin r petitin, we present ur requests befre Gd; requests fr ur wn needs and the needs f thers. It is nt always easy t pray. Prayer is shaped by ur understanding f wh Gd is. If the earliest images and metaphrs we were taught caused us t cnsider Gd a harsh and impersnal judge, prayer may seem t us a burden r a surce f shame. Furthermre, althugh prayer invlves ur being in fellwship with Gd, we may nt always feel Gd s presence. Smetimes in prayer we may feel nthing and wnder if ur prayers are getting thrugh. But Jesus reassures us that the heavenly Father knws what we need and is eager t respnd t us. In Matthew , Jesus prvides a pattern fr prayer. Our Father in heaven, hallwed be yur name. Yur kingdm cme. Yur will be dne, n earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day ur daily bread. And frgive us ur debts, as we als have frgiven ur debtrs. And d nt bring us t the time f trial, but rescue us frm the evil ne. This mdel prayer begins by acknwledging Gd s hliness. When we pray, yur kingdm cme; yur will be dne it is a srt f petic parallelism because Jesus assures us that, when we surrender t Gd s will and purpses, the kingdm f Gd is made real and present thrugh us. Daily bread is symblic f all f ur needs. We are t seek Gd s prvisin day by day withut unnecessary anxiety abut the future (see Matthew ). Furthermre, prayer n matter hw persnal it is is never just abut me and Jesus. We pray with awareness that we are part f Gd s family, the Church. And we recgnize that we cannt cultivate ur relatinship with Gd independently; withut cnsideratin f ur relatinship with thers. And s, even as we seek Gd s grace and frgiveness, we express ur willingness t frgive thse wh have wrnged us. Jesus reminds us, Fr if yu frgive thers their trespasses, yur heavenly Father will als frgive yu; but if yu d nt frgive thers, neither will yur Father frgive yur trespasses. (Matt ) Finally, Jesus wh endured the Cmpanins n the Jurney p. 13 Tracey D. Leslie

2 temptatins f the devil in the wilderness teaches us t pray fr deliverance r rescue frm the evil ne and his deceitfulness. Often what makes prayer difficult is that scripture bth encurages us t apprach the thrne f grace with bldness (Hebrews 4.16) and t ask, seek and knck with cnfidence (Matt ); meanwhile we are als reminded that we are t apprach Gd with childlike trust and humility (Matt ). Smetimes hlding these tw attitudes in balance is what makes prayer bth challenging and mysterius. Ultimately, the practice f prayer deepens ur awareness f and respnsiveness t Gd s presence in ur lives. As ur fellwship with Gd deepens and expands, we cme t understand mre fully the wrds f St. Augustine f Hipp: Yu have frmed us fr yurself [O Gd], and ur hearts are restless til they find rest in yu. As yu prepare t meet with yur grup, read thrugh Matthew s versin f The Lrd s Prayer (Matt ) and Luke s versin (Luke ). If yu are able, read these verses in multiple bible translatins r versins. (T cnsider different translatins f Matthew s versin f the prayer, refer t the subsequent page.) Hw d the different readings impact yur understanding f the prayer? D yu have a favrite versin? Take sme time t pray thrugh this prayer slwly, deliberately and thughtfully, cnsidering the significance f each phrase as yu pray it. Hw is this prayer experience different frm yur experience praying the Lrd s Prayer during a mrning wrship service? Cmpanins n the Jurney p. 14 Tracey D. Leslie

3 The Lrd s Prayer in fur different versins/translatins: The New Revised Standard Versin: [Jesus said:] "Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallwed be yur name. Yur kingdm cme. Yur will be dne, n earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day ur daily bread. And frgive us ur debts, as we als have frgiven ur debtrs. And d nt bring us t the time f trial, but rescue us frm the evil ne. The New Internatinal Versin: [Jesus said:] "This, then, is hw yu shuld pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallwed be yur name, yur kingdm cme, yur will be dne n earth as it is in heaven. Give us tday ur daily bread. Frgive us ur debts, as we als have frgiven ur debtrs. And lead us nt int temptatin, but deliver us frm the evil ne. ' The King James Versin: [Jesus said:] After this manner therefre pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallwed be thy name. Thy kingdm cme. Thy will be dne in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day ur daily bread. And frgive us ur debts, as we frgive ur debtrs. And lead us nt int temptatin, but deliver us frm evil. The Message: [Jesus said]: Yu can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, reveal wh yu are. Set the wrld right; d what s best as abve, s belw. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us frgiven with yu and frgiving thers. Keep us safe frm urselves and the Devil. Cmpanins n the Jurney p. 15 Tracey D. Leslie

4 Sessin Three Facilitatr Discussin Outline (Items needed: candles; breath prayer handuts) Remind the grup f the frmat fr yur time tgether. Begin by lighting candles; hear a wrd f scripture; take a few mments t breathe deeply and relax; and, have a prayer time that will cnclude with the Lrd s Prayer. Light a candle and explain that it is a reminder t us f Jesus presence with us since Jesus is the light f the wrld. Invite members t cme frward at their wn pace and light a candle. Share this scripture based n Psalm [r anther scripture f yur chsing]: As we gather tgether as yur peple in this time and in this space, O Gd, may the wrds f ur muths and the meditatin f ur hearts be acceptable t yu, O Lrd, ur rck and ur redeemer. Invite members t take a few mments t clse their eyes and breathe deeply and slwly using these few mments t begin t relax and let g f the day s tensins. Invite grup members t name anyne r any situatin fr which they desire prayer. All they need t d is speak the name f the ne in need since Gd already knws every need. Let them knw that the prayer time will cnclude with the Lrd s Prayer. Review with the grup the different types (r categries) f prayers they read abut this week: praise, thanksgiving, cnfessin and supplicatin (r petitin). Talk with them t be sure they clearly understand the differences between these kinds f prayers. Ask grup members if they learned anything new abut prayer thrugh their reading this week? Ask them hw they liked the experience f praying the Lrd s Prayer in different versins. Was there a particular versin they liked best? If s, why? Hw did their experience with the Lrd s Prayer (n their wn) this week differ frm their experience f praying with ur cmbined vices during Sunday wrship? Share with the grup that there are many different ways f praying. We can pray by meditating and making use f a visual bject (such as a crss) r a single wrd (such as peace ). As ur reading emphasized, prayer is abut sharing fellwship with Gd and being attentive t Gd s presence. Prayer is abut develping ur relatinship with Gd. Mre than a list f things we want frm Gd fr urselves and thers, prayer gets t the heart f discerning what it is we are seeking in a relatinship with Christ. Read frm Jhn : NRS Jhn 1:35 The next day Jhn again was standing with tw f his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Lk, here is the Lamb f Gd!" 37 The tw disciples heard him say this, and they fllwed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them fllwing, he said t them, "What are yu lking fr?" They said t him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are yu staying?" 39 He said t them, "Cme and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was abut fur 'clck in the afternn. Remind participants that, as we pray, we express t Gd that which we are truly seeking in ur lives; the deepest lngings f ur hearts. It is a dialgue. Thrugh prayer, Gd asks us nw (as Jesus asked his fllwers lng ag) What are yu lking fr? Cmpanins n the Jurney p. 16 Tracey D. Leslie

5 One very ancient frm f prayer that helped peple be attentive t Gd s presence was breath prayer. Breath prayer is a way t practice the presence f Gd. Many peple use scripture, hymns, r chruses t fashin their breath prayer. It is smething we can repeat (alud r silently) t fcus us in ur prayer time; and, we can repeat it thrugh the day t keep ur fcus n Gd. A breath prayer is smething we can use every day, even when we are rushed and shrt n time. A breath prayer is as unique as the circumstances in ur lives and ur relatinship with Gd. Let the grup knw that yu will lead them thrugh an exercise t begin t develp their wn, unique breath prayer. [The attachment is a hand ut yu can give them at the end f yur sessin. But d nt distribute it nw r they will be distracted by reading instructins rather than listening and experiencing mment by mment.] Lead them in this Breath Prayer experience: Step 1: Clse yur eyes and fcus n yur breathing [allw sme time here fr quiet] Step 2: Imagine Gd is calling yu by name. Gd is asking f yu as Jesus asked f his disciples lng ag, What are yu lking fr? What are yu seeking? [Pause here s there is time fr participants t reflect] Step 3: Respnd t Gd what it is that yu are seeking; express t Gd the deepest lngings f yur heart [pause and give time fr reflectin] Step 4: Think f the varius names r titles fr Gd Father, Mighty Gd, Gd Shepherd, Savir, Advcate, etc. Chse the name r title that means the mst t yu. [pause and allw time fr reflectin] Step 5: Nw, silently cmbine the name and what yu are seeking int ne phrase. E.g. Gd Shepherd, lead and guide me. [pause and allw time fr reflectin]. Invite participants t share (if they s desire) what this breath prayer experience was like fr them; inquire if they have any questins abut the prcess f develping a persnal breath prayer. Invite grup members t share times r experiences in their lives that have made it difficult fr them t pray. What bstacles r impediments t prayer have they experienced? One impediment t prayer can be ur wn reluctance t give up cntrl. Prayer is an act f trust and submissin t Gd and Gd s purpses. Quaker pastr and authr, Richard Fster, discusses Submissin as a spiritual discipline. When we pray thy will be dne, we are submitting t Gd and Gd s purpses fr ur lives and in ur wrld. Fster teaches that there can be great freedm and liberty in submissin. Prayer is, ultimately, an expressin f submissin, the ability t lay dwn the terrible burden f always needing t get ur wn way. (Fster) Ask grup members if there have been times in their lives when they have struggled t trust and t submit t Gd? Alng with better knwing Gd, prayer als helps us knw urselves better. It helps us understand what ur inward desires and mtivatins are. It helps us put ur thughts and actins int clearer perspective. One ancient frm f prayer was called the Prayer f Examen. This frm f prayer, develped by St. Ignatius, is a wnderful way t tune in and assess ur lives n a daily r weekly basis. Lead the grup in this abbreviated frm f Ignatius Prayer f Examen: i Invite grup members t clse their eyes and take a mment t cnsider Gift: What gifts have I received r given t thers ver the past few days; in ther Cmpanins n the Jurney p. 17 Tracey D. Leslie

6 wrds, when did I demnstrate lve tward anther, and when did I receive lve frm smene else? [allw quiet time fr reflectin] Struggle: Over the past few days, recall a time r times when yu failed t give and receive lve; recall times when yu may have felt anxius r resentful abut unreslved issues. [allw quiet time fr reflectin] Invitatin: Nw, ask yurself, what blessing r kindness wuld I seek frm Gd in rder t mve frward in an attitude f peace and whleness? What, amng Gd s many mercies (things like frgiveness, strength, peace, curage), d yu mst need frm him tday? Reflect n this as yu breathe slwly and rest in Gd s grace. Invite grup members t reflect upn this prayer experience and encurage them t share any final thughts, questins, ideas, etc. they have n the tpic f prayer. Let members knw that ur scriptures als cntain prayers f blessing, a type f intercessry prayer. Distribute the subsequent page which includes the Prayer f Blessing (as well as the Breath Prayer and Prayer f Examen) and ask members t pair up and pray this prayer f blessing ver ne anther. When they are finished, invite them t cme frward t extinguish their candles. Bid them Gd s peace as yu part. Cmpanins n the Jurney p. 18 Tracey D. Leslie

7 This Handut shuld be distributed near the cnclusin f the grup sessin. Develping a Breath Prayer: Step 1: Clse yur eyes and fcus n yur breathing [allw sme time here fr quiet] Step 2: Imagine Gd is calling yu by name. Gd is asking f yu as Jesus asked f his disciples lng ag, What are yu lking fr? What are yu seeking? [Give time fr them t reflect] Step 3: Respnd t Gd what it is that yu are seeking; what yu are yearning fr in yur life [give time fr reflectin] Step 4: Think f the varius names r titles fr Gd Father, Mighty Gd, Gd Shepherd, Savir, etc. Chse the name r title that means the mst t yu. [allw time fr reflectin] Step 5: Cmbine the name and what yu are seeking int ne phrase. E.g. Gd Shepherd, lead and guide me. [allw time fr reflectin]. The Prayer f Examen: Gift: What gifts have I received r given ver the past few days; in ther wrds, when did I give the gift f lve t anther, and when did I receive a gift f lve frm smene else? [allw quiet time fr reflectin] Struggle: Over the past few days, recall a time r times when yu failed t give and receive lve; recall times when yu may have felt anxius r restless abut unreslved issues. [allw quiet time fr reflectin] Invitatin: Nw, ask yurself, what gift r kindness wuld I seek frm Gd in rder t mve frward in an attitude f peace and whleness? What, amng Gd s many mercies, d yu mst need frm him tday? Reflect n this as yu breathe slwly and rest in Gd s grace. A PRAYER OF BLESSING: May yur ears be blessed that yu may hear the gspel f Christ, which is the Wrd f life. May yur eyes be blessed that yu may see the light f Christ as he illumines yur way. May yur lips be blessed that yu may sing the praise f Christ, the jy f the Church. May yur heart be blessed that Gd may dwell there by faith. May yur shulders be blessed that they may bear the gentle yke f Jesus. May yur hands be blessed s that Gd s mercy may be knwn thrugh yur actins. May yur feet be blessed that yu may walk in the way f Christ. Amen. i This abbreviated frm f the Prayer f Examen is based n an adaptatin fund in the bk Paths t Prayer by Patricia D. Brwn. Cmpanins n the Jurney p. 19 Tracey D. Leslie

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