Guelph Spiritan Prayer Group
PRAYER MEETING GUIDELINES
[As related to original purpose/vision of the Spiritan Prayer Group; taken from notes, papers in prayer group files]
Key - centre on the risen Lord, know Jesus and find practical ways to help others come to know Him. Prayer meetings will thrive if they are evangelistic -have zeal for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Build a "come and see" evangelistic prayer meeting.
What is a Prayer Meeting? (read I Cor. 12,13 & 14)
[adapted from CCSO pamphlet of same name, Bread of Life Renewal Centre, Hamilton, Ontario]
- Jesus said, "Where 2 or 3 are gathered in My name, there am I in their midst." (Matt. 18:19-20); in a prayer meeting Jesus is present as in the Mass, in the Scripture Readings, in each other, in prophecy, etc., only we worship Him from an informal viewpoint rather than in a structured celebration.
- weekly gathering of Christians to give praise, thanks, honour and love to Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
- time to gather in community, to praise God on a one-to-one basis, as the Holy Spirit moves us.
- come to give our full attention to Jesus - through the help of the Holy Spirit (who will teach us all truth.
- pray as you feel comfortable - as if you were alone with Jesus; also respect the way others pray and feel comfortable; support each other; keep open to the Holy Spirit and pray however you wish -just PRAY.
- two purposes - to praise, worship and honour God; to build up the Body of Christ (as brothers and sisters).
- not a parish organization - made up of individuals that get together weekly as a family for the purpose of giving Jesus the praise He deserves; first and primary purpose of all prayer is to praise and honour the God who created us and who gives us all the gifts and blessings we enjoy each day.
- all ages are welcome - we are all children of God.
Content (read I Cor. 14:26-33)
- opening prayer; time of praise and worship; singing; prophecy (God speaking through someone); tongues (in song as well); interpretation of tongues; scripture reading; teaching; testimony (telling how Lord is working in your life); sharing.
- teaching reserved to one who has been cleared through the leadership or core group - to insure proper teaching.
- singing - way of praying to, praising and worshipping God; as St. Bernard said, "he who sings prays twice"; should not turn into a songfest; should PAUSE between songs and LISTEN; this is the time the Holy Spirit can talk to us; need silence to reflect and allow the Spirit to work.
- pause between readings, teachings to allow the Spirit to work.
- ones that speak, prophesy or read are usually moved to do so by the Spirit (John 14:26 "the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you").
How long?(read Matt. 26:40)
Bringing Prayer Meetings to Life - essential elements
[adapted from: Boucher, J.J. 1992. Resurrecting prayer meetings, Dove Books Leaflet #66]
- Intercessory Prayer - offer intercessory prayer for whomever God wants to draw to the prayer meetings; pray that those who come will be receptive to the person and message of Jesus; pray that the Holy Spirit gives each person a hunger and thirst for more of whatever God wants.
- Greeter's Ministry - everyone's ministry; basic Christian hospitality; everyone at the prayer meeting has a call from God to talk to one or two new people to whom they have never spoken before. Regular participants need to reach out to new people and spend time with them; during their first few meetings, new people need to make significant contact with other group members or they may never return.
- Book and Tape Ministry - need a strong book and tape ministry; people come to meetings with all kinds of questions and needs. Books and tapes available should cover the basics of Christian life and the charismatic renewal; offer a selection of materials on further growth in prayer, understanding Scripture and Catholic faith. Book and tape ministers should see they are doing a ministry of outreach and love. This enables them to minister and witness to newcomers with great success; new people, maybe feeling shy and fearful, head for the book table because it looks safe.
- Explanation - new people officially welcomed to the meeting, explain what is going on; primary goal - to help people meet the Lord Jesus, try to help them come to the Lord.
- Evanqelizinq throuqh Song end Word - prayer and praise open the prayer meeting, seasoned by Gospel-centred music; important way to help people come to Jesus and commit themselves to Him.
- Witness - person shares how he/she met and committed his/her life to the Lord and experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit; a short 5-to 10-minute witness. A prepared witness calls people to consider their lives, to repent and turn to Christ; renews everyone by challenge to return Jesus to the centre of one's life; provides a model, showing the way people at the prayer meeting can witness spontaneously about Jesus and being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
- Invitation for Commitment to Jesus - give people an opportunity to make Jesus Christ the Lord and centre of their lives; invite them to do it for the first time or to surrender a new area of their lives to Jesus. Need not be an "altar call", where you raise your hand and come forward for prayer; very simple things can be done in silence, in your seat, in order to give yourselves more fully to Jesus.
- Evangelistic Teaching - prayer meetings should provide solid basic evangelistic teachings, lasting 10 to 20 minutes, and should include personal testimony as well. Topics should be according to the needs of the group; give people something to feel, something to remember, something to change, and something to do (to grow more deeply).
- Prayer Ministry - after the prayer meeting; people receive prayer for needs and for healing; learn how to do this in an evangelistic way -with listening and compassion; with a willingness to witness to Jesus and the release of the Spirit and to share the basic Gospel message. Do not just bring people to pray for their healing, bring them to Jesus Christ the healer.
- Hospitality - ministry of greeting and hospitality continues after the prayer meeting; make contact with new people, get names and phone numbers; encourage newcomers to return, help them find books and tapes to answer questions, challenge them to grow in the Lord. Coffee ministry - opportunity for one-to-one evangelistic ministry; linger over coffee and treats; let your conversations grow around Jesus - what is God doing and saying in your everyday life.
- Follow-up - when you meet new people, you might call during the week, asking how things are going or encourage them to come to the next meeting; could offer to pick them up.
- Life in the Spirit Seminars - an important evangelistic opportunity for reaching those who come to prayer meetings; essential extra; prayer meetings help people to know and release the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. However, specific evangelistic teaching and guidance is needed in order to discover and grow in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Community of Faith - support and effectiveness
[excerpts from: Knight, Fr. David. 1977. His way, an everyday plan for following Jesus, St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, OH]
- need Christian community to support us when we begin to see what it means to follow Christ; need this support both in order to believe and in order to act on what we believe.
- a person can bring to a faith community what might be an inspiration of God and get help in discerning it; the community will have been opened by their own experience to the fact that God moves in strange ways - beautiful, risky ways.
- when we respond to God - who is Life itself - the language of love must be life itself.
- need community, need other believers, not only to confirm our belief that God is speaking to us, but to give us courage to act upon it.
Prayer Group as faith community
- anytime there are two or three gathered together in His name - it is a community of faith; must be gathered in His name, not under His name; the person of Jesus Christ is the real focus - not what must be put on or got through.
- group of people with a shared past and a common future; have known the Lord through faith, and they are seeking together to know the Lord more fully and to make him known to the world; witnesses and disciples.
- not only supportive on one another in faith, but also creative; members help one another to direct the light of the gospel to the reality of the world around them.
- community should face, and face together in faith and in prayer, the question of Christian response to the way our society is going, or failing to go.
- assembly of believers in which Christ is remembered and made present through his scriptural Word and his Spirit speaking through the members of his Body on earth.
Prayer Group - Listening and Praying Together
- if the prayer leaders conduct the "real action" during the prayer service, the people may react in their hearts to what is read or preached, but never spontaneously out loud; it will not be known what is in their hearts.
- alternately where members can read a passage from Scripture appropriate to the occasion, speak a prayer out loud, start a hymn, share with the assembly something in their mind and heart that is felt the community should reflect on, the meeting is closer to what St. Paul describes as the Liturgy of the Word of the early Church: "When you assemble, one has a psalm, another some instruction to give, still another a revelation to share" (1 Cor 14:26); the members are interacting spiritually with one another. There could be disorder, but there is also the possibility of confronting new challenges as a community interacting in prayer.
- to be able to receive challenging, prophetic words, members must be prayerfully reflecting in silence on those words; but they must also hear others speak in response - not their intellectual arguments or their emotions, but the reactions they are discerning as the action of God in their hearts; it is not enough to preach, the community has to respond through prayer and encouragement of one another.
- let God Speak in your heart - out loud to one another; a person moved by God acts not out of a desire to control, but out of necessity to obey.
- support one another in faith and help each other to witness to Christ in prophetic contradiction of the spirit of this world.
ESSENTIAL PRAYER MEETING COMPONENTS
INTRODUCTION AND GREETING (start at 8:00 pm)
[We meet to give glory and praise to God as a Community and to support and pray with one another]
- Begin with an Opening Prayer/Song
- e.g. St. Michael, Come Holy Spirit, other
- make the Sign of the Cross
- be sure to start on time every week
- Extend a Welcome
- to regular, occasional, and especially new members - use a few names
- encourage the use of name labels
- Outline the Evening Program briefly
PRAISE TIME - TO GIVE ALL PRAISE, GLORY AND HONOUR TO GOD
- Songs of Praise
- all upbeat, fast paced, praise and exaltation
- songs with words addressed to God, not about God
- can repeat first verse of each song at the end
- can repeat the chorus at the end, even several times
- can repeat the last line to end
- raise hands
- smooth and fast transitions from song to song
- encourage brief praise and tongues between songs
- no delays between songs
- 'Prayer to Take Authority' said after a couple of songs
- Transition Song: sing a slower paced song (one)
QUIET TIME [Listen, what does God say]
- Explanation (1 minute)
- maintain silence for a few minutes
- wait for invitation from leader after period of silence
- encourage word gifts, prophecies, tongues, interpretations
- wait for sense of urgency
- to be for the group, not the individual
- be Audible, Brief, and Christ-like (ABC)
- quiet pauses before the next one
- Lead-in Song (one, quiet, appropriate words)
- Quiet Time
- members read passage from Scripture, speak a prayer out loud, start a hymn, share with others something in their mind and heart that is for the community (1Cor14:26)
- leader keeps record of Word given for the community, as it is presented during the Quiet Time
- Leader Summary of Word to the Community (brief 2 minutes)
- Transition Song (sing a chorus 3 x, all standing!)
- Leader introduces and leads in prayer for the Presenter
- Presentation (20 minutes)
- Leader thanks Presenter
- Discussion time - large or small group
- Transition Song (if possible): ask all to stand for a song of praise
- Leader invites people to share God's positive action in their lives during the past week
- Leader invites all to offer prayers of thanksgiving for this evidence of God's love in our lives
- make announcements
- re next meeting - location, time, plans
- remind group, volunteer help is always needed (can leave service sign-up list at the door before the meeting)
- re up-coming outside events
- re collection if needed
- re messages from secretary
- offer thanks and invitations
- name and thank tonight's workers
- invite all to refreshments after
- describe prayer team availability
INTERCESSORY PRAYER AND PETITIONS (can also be right after Quiet Time)
- Leader invites all to present prayers of petition
- for all people
- for our Church, parish, community
- for people on the prayer line
- for ourselves
- If desired, sing a final song of praise
CONCLUDING PRAYER (should be no later than 9:30 pm)
- Leader invites all to join hands and pray
- common prayer - Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
- If possible - closing blessing from Spiritual Director
INDIVIDUAL PRAYER TIME
- After meeting, prayer teams pray over individuals who request to be prayed with
REFRESHMENTS AND SOCIAL TIME
- a time for informal sharing and greeting
- get further acquainted with new members
- build community
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