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A Model for Praying Together as a Small Group

Fr. James Curtin

There are many different forms for small group meetings and there are several different goals they hope to achieve. The dynamics of a small group have been well documented; study of which can be very helpful, especially to those who may be starting up for the first time. This model has its own specific goal. There are particular assumptions that are expected of those who might choose to follow this model. 1) Those gathering already have an active, personal prayer practice. 2) They have been touched by the Grace of Renewal Baptism in the Holy Spirit (or are coming to encounter this grace.) 3) They desire to grow outwardly in their faith, through a communion and sharing of their life of prayer with others. 4) They see such sharing as equipping themselves for the Churchs call for a New Evangelization in our time. 5) They are prepared to make the commitment necessary for such a group to be fruitful. Once two or three have made such a bond, they are ready to invite others to join them in their pursuit of a true Life in the Spirit.

GATHERING: TIME AND PLACE

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Mtt. 18:20
Look for a time that is most convenient for all. For best results, a weekly gathering is preferable. Longer intervals tend to interrupt continuity. Sticking to a fixed timeline for the gathering is important. One to one and a half hours works best. Someone is designated to lead. The place for gathering should be welcoming, comfortable, quiet, free from interruptions, private, and conducive to conversation. Hospitality needs should be simple. Beverages and snacks can be included. A brief time of welcoming precedes the formal part of the gathering.
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COMING INTO CHRISTS PRESENCE

Where two or three are gathered in my Name, there am I in their midst.Mtt.18:20


The gathering commences with prayer. This form of gathering has a strong and certain conviction of the Lords true presence. An atmosphere of devotion characterises the whole of the time spent together. When the Lord comes to us, he brings his love, peace, and the joy of heaven. It is into this experience that we now desire to enter.
PRAYER TO ENTER THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD

Lord Jesus / in your merciful love you have called us to gather in your Name. / Your precious gift of faith has awaked in us / a desire to be in your presence. / It was not we who chose you; it was you who chose us. / You awakened in us the gift of the Holy Spirit, which we received in our baptism. / This gift of the Grace of Renewal, has enkindled in our hearts a burning desire / that this new life of the Spirit / will penetrate every facet of our lives. / We give you glory and praise for this priceless gift, with which you have blessed us. / You have given us each other, as companions in this new journey of faith. / Unite our hearts with yours, and with each one. Now, let your Spirit be our guide this night, / as we seek to hear your voice speaking to us; / teaching us, and revealing to us your wonderful, hidden plans for our lives. / Let everything we undertake in this gathering, be for your glory and honour, and for our edification. / Bless us now, + in the Name of the Father, / + and of the Son, / + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. ******
A period of praying together follows. There can be additional formal prayers said as well as periods of silence prayer. This is an opportunity for each one to add their own words of prayer.

HEARING GODS WORD

Speak Lord, your servants are listening.1 Samuel 3:9


The reading of a text of scriptures begins this part of the gathering. Different approaches may be used to select the scripture text. Assigning a member to prepare a text in advance, or asking if someone has a special text to share, is one approach that can be used. The aim here is to listen and to hear. We share what we have been hearing from the scriptures this week; from our meditations, our liturgical worship, as well as other sources. We withhold discussion on these scriptures, deferring it to the next part of the gathering. We listen to see if there are similarities in what we are hearing and sharing? is a coherent message or direction for the group emerging?

A summary of this part is made. Just as keeping a record of our personal prayer is important, so to, a similar record keeping of those outstanding texts and insights that the group has experienced can be useful. However, who said what is not recorded, only what we discern as the Lords message. Having someone assigned to recording the groups experience works best. This segues naturally into the next part of the gathering.

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DISCOVERING THE HAND OF THE LORD IN OUR LIVES

The disciples came back and joyously reported, "Lord, even the demons are submitting to us in your name!" Lk.10:17
Having now discerned what we believe is the Lords Word to us; we broaden our discussion to discover how this Word relates to what is happening in our lives. As we talk about our experiences, we try to help each other find the Lords guiding Spirit these events. Again, focus is important. Caution is taken to make sure our discussion does not drift from our task at hand, hearing Gods message. Besides the hand of the Lord, there are three major influences impacting our lives each day; The WORLD the culture we live in the people we deal with. The FLESH our personal make up desires likes & dislikes personal history. The DEVIL he who roams the world, seeking the ruin of souls. All of these, to some degree, will be at work in each ones life. Learning to recognize and name these influences is part of the grace of discernment. Without this insight, everything else rules us. What we dont see, someone else may. Such insight is the goal of this period of sharing.

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INTERCESSION

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone. 1Tim. 2:1
At the conclusion of each gathering, prayers are offered. These formal prayers are said, as well, each one may wish to offer their own prayer. Because of the great importance the Grace of Renewal - The Baptism In The Holy Spirit has in our lives, we ask that the fire of Gods love, continue to be poured into our hearts. As new evangelists, we pray that this grace will touch the lives of others; especially those God has placed on our hearts. The following prayers are said together.

PRAYER FOR THE GRACE OF RENEWAL Jesus my Lord, I confess to you and to all the world / my need for your presence in my life. / I am alone and in darkness without you. / I am influenced and controlled by the many forces that surround me. / Even though I struggle against them, / it is sin that so easily dominates my life. / Who can save me but you alone, / my Lord and my God. / Deliver me from the Evil One. / Touch my life with that power which flows from your Resurrection. / Cause your Holy Spirit to be born in me anew. / Prince of Peace and Lord of Glory / reign now in my heart, / baptize me with your Holy Spirit and Fire. / Raise me up to a New Life in you.
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PRAYER FOR THE RESTORATION OF FAITH FOR OTHERS Lord Jesus, your words to St. Peter, / When you have recovered your faith Peter, strengthen your brothers. / I pray now for my brothers and sisters struggling in their faith. / I pray especially for those I now mention: [ here pause and mention in your heart those for whom you are praying] O Lord, you have told us that you desire Mercy- / that you have come to call the wounded and the broken, for they are the ones who need the Divine Physician. / Reach out your hand of Mercy and touch their hearts. / Drive from them Satan with all his evil intentions and deliver them from the power of his deceits. / Touch their ears, now deaf to your gospel, with your healing power, / that they may hear you calling them by name, Lazarus, come to life again.,/ Create in them a hunger so strong, a hunger you alone can satisfy, / Say to them again, Come and follow me. PRAYER FOR YOUNG PEOPLE Lord Jesus, what love filled your heart / when the young man approached, asking the way to eternal life. / What sadness you felt when he turn away, / unable to accept your invitation to come and follow you. / Jesus, you alone are the truth. / You alone are the way that leads to the fullness of life. / Yet few are they who seek and find you. / Strong are the forces pulling at the hearts of our young people. / Shrewd and clever is the persuasion that lures them away from you. / Champion of the young, / how deep is the desire of your heart / that they should come to know you. / What blessing they will experience / when you fill them with the Holy Spirit. / You will enlighten their minds with your Truth. / You will inflame their hearts with love for God. / You will heal their wounds and restore the innocence of their youth. / With you in them and they in you / their lives will be transformed. / They will become instruments of peace and signs of hope for this troubled world of ours. (Mark 10:17)
Here, additional prayers are added.

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THE NEW EVANGELIST


Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Mtt.10:16

The goal of ones personal spiritual life is to Know the Lord - his love for us, his plan for our lives, and the obtaining of the grace we need to fulfill our calling. The work of evangelization is to help others discover the Good News, Gods personal love for each and every one, and the plan God has for their lives. In St. Peters first letter, he gives this advice: But sanctify the Lord God in your

hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear: 1Pt.3:15
If the Grace of Renewal has changed our lives, it should be evident, at least to those who know us. In describing the new life he was bring to the world, Jesus used the example of leaven and dough. When leaven is added to the mixture of dough, the whole mix rises to a whole new texture, suitable for backing into bread. The New Evangelization is not an, in-your-face arguing about religion, it is a dialogue that springs from the evidence of grace working the life of the evangelist, and obvious for all to see. The Grace of Renewal brings peace to the soul; peace the world cannot give. Whatever ones walk in life, whatever projects they participate in, those touched by this Grace, bring with them the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, and this changes everything.