Process for the Breakout Groups
The process is based on Group Spiritual Direction in the search for God, and the elements include:
1 Deep listening
2 Silence where space is provided to hear God’s prayer for each person
3 Noticing and naming where God is in the midst
5 Intercessory Prayer
Guidelines for above
- Deep listening involves suspending judgement, seeing the person who is sharing the fruits of their time with God during the day as God sees them
- The purpose of silence during the meeting is to let go and let God. It is not a time for preparing what you might share but is a time of preparing for deep listening
- Noticing and paying attention as each one shares and naming where God is in the midst
- What God is saying through the words of each person in their sharing
- Intercessory Prayer – (not the same as Prayer of Petition). The listener is asking God ‘What is your prayer for this person? Is there anything I need to surrender to join in your prayer for this person? What is standing in the way (my judgement, curiosity, my need to solve the problem, or my attempt to make someone happy)?
Time allocated 45 mins
Group number 4
Group agrees before beginning:
Person who will keep time to ensure that everyone speaks and is listened to.
Selection, when group of four meets, of person who will speak first, second, third and fourth. (Perhaps beginning with person at right hand top of screen and moving clockwise)?
Each person has an opportunity to say:
What do you hear God saying today?
(I notice, I appreciate, I wonder……….. Does a line of Scripture or a verse of a poem surface within me? What was supportive of prayerfulness in the group? ) Each one shares briefly for 1-2 mins 6 mins
Silent Reflection 2 mins
Return to Large Group
Q. Is there something God would have me say now?
Praying Beyond Safety
by Lois Lindbloom …… edited
One evening, as I was preparing for a group of parents to gather at my house to pray for our children, I thought of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She parented a young man the ages of my sons. Perhaps she had some feelings of fear like mine. Perhaps she prayed for Jesus’ safety. But what if her prayer for his safety had been answered? In that moment, this challenge came to me: Could I pray “beyond safety” for my sons, even in this time of grief and fear?
Through the next months, this question brought me to a new way of praying for the people who are closest to me. In prayer, I entered the presence of God, sometimes by sitting with Jesus in nature, sometimes by encountering the unconditional love of God in an imageless setting. I invited my sons, each in turn, to join us there. Then, instead of speaking my desire, I asked what God’s desire for my son was.
As time went on, my older son went to France and Croatia for two years of volunteer service. Some of that time I had no way to reach him; once again I was fearful. Entering the presence of God and inviting my son to join us helped me trust God’s prayer, a prayer that could go beyond my knowledge of my son’s needs. (This way of praying was interspersed with various versions of fearful, clutching, parental prayers for his safety!)
When I attended a Shalem workshop on group spiritual direction, the staff described this way of praying as intercessory prayer, openness to God on behalf of another. In intercessory prayer we stay in the presence of God on behalf of another. We begin by listening for God’s desire, rather than by speaking our requests.
Often something in me gets in the way of my hearing or embracing God’s desire for the person for whom I pray.
๏ with my sons my own fear was a barrier.
๏ sometimes other feelings or beliefs are barriers.
๏ my own desires get in the way.
๏ my belief that it is more important for me to do something or say something than to remain in the presence of God
Part of being open on to God on behalf of another is a willingness to admit what the barrier is and then to surrender it to God
Intercessory prayer also opens us to God’s desire for ourselves, not just for the person for whom we are praying.
In the presence of God and one another, we hold these questions, offering ourselves as part of God’s redemptive process:
God, what is your prayer for this person?
๏ What do you want my prayer to be?
๏ Is there anything I need to surrender in order to join your prayer for this person?
๏ Is there anything you want me to do or say to this person on your behalf?
Then we wait in prayerful silence for a sense of whether or not we are given something to say to another. We may be nudged to say something or we may be called to continue in prayer without speaking.
For me personally and for the groups with whom I meet, intercessory prayer is a continual invitation to pray beyond the safety of our own agendas.
It is an invitation to pray, “Thy will be done.”
Lois is a graduate of Shalem’s Spiritual Guidance Program, Summer 1997.