One of the benefits of the coronavirus pandemic this year has been to prompt us all to experiment with new ways of meeting together. Hazel Aucken has been using our series of spiritual exercises designed for small groups of Christians who wish to learn to pray together. She has sent the following report:
“Over the past few weeks, I have been delighted to see three self-selected ‘stars’ grow in courage and confidence, thanks to the ‘Praying Together’ spiritual exercises that Roger sent out during the first coronavirus lockdown. I work as curate in a benefice of four rural villages. The largest of the four churches has no tradition of open prayer, nor even small groups. There is one Bible study group, but its members prefer to pray in silence or have the leader pray audibly. My training incumbent, like myself, comes from churches where prayer meetings are a source of rich blessings, and we both want to share that with others. She therefore gave me the opportunity to start a prayer school, and I began by recruiting the licensed lay minister and his wife to provide sympathetic, experienced encouragement and support.
“I advertised the 8-week course in our benefice magazine and via the weekly benefice email, and waited to see who appeared. Allowing the faithful, available and teachable people to step forward in this way made my task much easier. When we began, Caryl, Lindsay and Stella were complete novices at vocalising their own prayers even on their own, never mind in front of others. Consequently, it was with some fear and trepidation that these three lovely ladies joined us on Zoom for the first session. Nevertheless, they were willing to have a go and by the end of the evening each had prayed for something they wanted God to do for them, despite the symptoms of stage fright they all shared. Without exception, they wanted God to improve their self-acceptance, courage and confidence – in Caryl’s case to get her to the end of the course without bottling out!
“God is certainly answering their prayers, as is evidenced not only in our meetings but also in the fact that Lindsay prayed a beautiful prayer in the benefice morning prayer Zoom last week, Stella has volunteered to lead the whole service one Monday, and Caryl is still with us and has surprised herself by praying spontaneously without having to write it out first. That was for the family of the Kurdish-Iranians refugees who were all drowned, and despite the raging toothache she had that evening. We all insisted on praying for her, though she didn’t think it was important enough, and the next day, I recruited Roger as well. The following week, as a non-believer in miracles, she had to cope with the awkwardness of reporting to everyone that she had woken up pain-free the second morning after our prayers! I am looking forward to seeing everyone grow further over the last three sessions – and beyond, since all have agreed to join me in leading our Advent Sunday service on Zoom.”
Praying in small groups
We have now produced a complete series of notes for those wishing to experiment with small prayer groups in this way. They are designed particularly for use with people who may have little confidence in their own ability to pray in a group, and we have been encouraged to find that the Lord is as present where two or three meet together over Zoom as he is when they meet together in the time-honoured way!
The series has been written by Roger Morgan, and can be downloaded following the links below:
- PRAYING TOGETHER – download
- PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER’S NEEDS – download
- PRAYING WITH SCRIPTURE – download
- PRAYING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT – download
- PRAYING FOR NON CHRISTIANS – download
- PRAYING FOR ONE ANOTHER – download
- PRAYING FOR SHARED CONCERNS – download
- PRAISE – download