Each Sunday for the past month I have been sharing a different prayer model with a group in our church that meets prior to Sunday School. We have been learning by doing. There is no better way to learn prayer than praying. Adopting a prayer model can be a quick and easy way to enhance your prayer life. Here are some models we have been learning and the benefits we have experienced.
A month ago we had open prayer together in a circle. I prompted the flow of the prayer time verbally using the ACTS prayer model as a guiding structure. ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
The next week we learned an old prayer model called The Examen. It is a great model for nurturing self and spiritual awareness. In the Examen you consciously reflect on your day giving thanks and take time to analyze your motives. You take time to see when and where you were God led or motivated by other influences. To read about the Examen click here or download a handout, click here.
Last week we focused on how to pray scripture. I led us in a time of slowly meditating on a passage from the Word of God through successive readings and reflections on the same text. We were essentially following a lectio divina form of reading.
Today, I introduced my group to the morning rite from the Book of Common prayer. We prayed through it together and spent brief periods of time in silent reflection on scripture. Praying the morning rite is basically like having a mini-worship service together.
THE ADVANTAGEOUS AND BENEFITS
Each month when we have prayed together I have re-experienced or been reminded of several important lessons.
- It is very good to prayer together. There is hardly a meeting or class that I don’t begin and end with prayer at the church. While that definitely qualifies as praying together there is no comparison to spending an extended time together in prayer. In terms of extended time, we have been spending 20 to 30 or more minutes in prayer with one another. I feel closer to these brothers and sisters in Christ from having dwelt in prayer with one another. I am reminded of the frequent references in the books of Acts to the community praying together. Got knits our hearts together in shared prayer.
- Focused extended prayer is like pressing the restart button on your soul. Every week I have experienced an obvious felt shift during the course of our prayer time together. I no that is a very unhelpful way to put it, but finding words for the peace that inevitably comes each week is difficult. Each week I have felt my typical internal hurry and scurry abate and in its place a calm mild bliss replaces it. Simply put I feel so much better when we finish praying.
- Prayer models always prompt me to pray more broadly and more deeply. Whether it is an ACTS prayer or the Examen, when I use a model with steps to it I spend more time in prayer and I pray about things that I would not otherwise prayer for. For example, in today’s praying of the morning rite, we were prompted to prayer for world leaders, place torn by war, and those who labor to prevent destruction of the earth, just to mention a few subjects. Most of these I know I would have not thought to pray about, but it was good that I did. Following a pray model extends your prayer life.
- A sense of connection to the broader body of Christ. I particularly felt that this morning as we prayed the morning rite. I know that because the prayers and scripture readings are held in common by multiple denominations that there is every likelihood that other people around the globe were praying the same prayers and reading the same scriptures even as I was. There is something invisibly reassuring about that fact. I find a strength to in knowing that I participant in traditions that stretch not only beyond me geographically but historically. I am reminder of the great cloud of witness who have gone on before us as I consider the fact that I am carrying forward and participating in models of prayer that transcend my generation.
These are just a few of the benefits I have felt praying with my church family. If you do not pray with a group I highly encourage you to begin doing so regularly. Picking a prayer model to follow will also make it easier. Having a model will guide your time with one another. Next week we will be experiencing centering prayer together. I look forward to this time of quietly being in the presence of God.
May the God of peace and the peace of God abide upon you,
The Practical Disciple
p.s. A month ago I wrote about entering a time of listening. I don’t know how well I have done on that, but need to confess that I have really missed writing for you all. Hopefully, my listening time is coming to pass. I am feeling more ready to write again. Peace
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