Prayer is to our spiritual life what blood is to our physical life. Prayer is that ongoing conversation with God that keeps our spirit alive and in touch with the source of life. The “stuff” of prayer is our lives, the word, and silence. Reflecting on our lives empowers us to hear what God is saying to us in our experience. The word is our rich tradition of sacred scripture, sacred writing and common prayer that we can “enter into” to hear what God is saying through these to us. Silence is the emptying of ourselves to be open to what God is saying, being, calling us to.
In silence we discern God’s will.
- I can reflect on my day and be attentive to what God is saying to me, calling me to be and do.
- I can read and reflect on scripture and hear what God is saying to me.
- I can be silent and open to what God is saying to me.
- I can share what I hear from God with others and discern God’s voice and God’s will.
Key Learning Points:
- Reflective listening is taking quiet time to review your life daily and see how God is present in your life, what God is saying to you and calling you to. ACTS and the Exam are two common ways to do this.
- Reflective reading is reading the Bible or other sacred writings to see what it meant to those who experienced the event or witness at the time, and what it means to you today. Lectio Divina and Contemplation are two common ways to do this.
- Silence is the discipline of setting aside distractions to listen to the Spirit, to hear God’s end of the conversation.
- Discernment is tending to our feelings in prayer, being aware of what draws us closer (consolation) or farther (desolation) from God.
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts. ― Mother Teresa
- Read and watch the resources listed above.
- Spend time practicing each type of prayer—reflective listening, reflective reading, silence.
- Be aware of your feelings of desolation and consolation and ask God what they mean for you.
- Find a faith friend that you can share your experiences with and seek affirmation, correction and accountability.
- Reflective listening guides
o ACTS—adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication How does one pray?
- Reflective Reading
- Lectio Divina Uncover The Word – Lectio Divina Up, In, Out What is “Lectio Divina”?
- Contemplation imagine yourself in a scripture passage
- Silence The Importance of Silence in a Noisy World
- Coping with the Monkeys Daily Riches: Solitude and the Chattering Monkeys
- Empty Teacup The Tea Cup What’s in Your Cup?
Exercises for Older Teens and Adults:
- How do I pray?
- 3 P’s Place, Posture & Presence—Find a place where you won’t be disturbed; find a posture that’s comfortable for you but not so comfortable that’s you’ll fall asleep; let yourself be really present, set aside whatever you’ve been doing or feel you need to do.
- Introduce ACTs prayer and give participants the quiet time to practice it.
- Introduce Examen using videos Into the Examen Video The Examen Video and give participant the quiet time to practice it.
- Praying with Scripture
- “Bible” means library; it’s a collection of books that tell of God revealing Godself through history. But it’s not just historic, God speaks to us through scripture today. Here are two common ways to listen to God, to pray with scripture.
- Introduce Lection Divina—with one or more of these videos Uncover The Word – Lectio Divina Up, In, Out What is “Lectio Divina”? Give participants passages they can practice the process with (i.e. 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, Romans 8:28-39, Matthew 25:31-46) Give them time to practice Lection Divina with one of these passages.
- Introduce Contemplation with Contemplation Give participants Bible Stories i.e. woman at the well, wedding at Cana, feeding of the 5,000. Give them time to practice Contemplation with one of these passages.
- Befriending Silence
- It may be very hard to be silent. We may like our cell phones, music, videos, video games but it’s important to choose silence at least one a day for at least 15 minutes a day (you may have to work up to that if silence is really foreign to you). In silence we can listen to God—empty ourselves and be filled with God’s spirit, God’s love and become aware of who we are and what we are called to do.
- Watch The Tea Cup
- Share insights about the distractions from the reading you’ve done i.e. Chattering Monkeys
- Give participants time to practice silence. Remind them of the 3 P’s: Place, Posture, and Presence.
- In Rhythm of Life Matthew Kelly suggests the mantra: “Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am. Be still and know. Be still. Be.” Gently repeat until you can just “be”, ….
- Discernment and Spiritual Friendship
- In prayer we can discern, come to an awareness of, what is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, good or best etc. for us to doing or how we are being. We pay attention to what feels right, consolation, and ask “Where is this leading me?” And we pay attention to what feels wrong, desolation, and ask “How can I redirect myself from this?”
- Watch Discernment of Spirits Video
- Often it’s easy to be deceived about what’s right and what’s wrong. Having a spiritual friend that can be honest with you about your failings and celebrate your successes is an important part of discernment. Sometime that friend needs to be someone trained but most often it can be a friend that you know has good standards and is seeking what’s best for him or herself as well. Follow the lesson Spiritual Friendship
Exercises for Younger Teens (13-16):
- Same as above
Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking:
- How do I pray?
- Do I read and pray the Bible? How?
- How much time do I spend in silence with God each day and how can I improve?
- What is God saying to me in prayer?
- What makes me feel consolation? Desolation?
- Do I have a spiritual friend in my life? If not, who would make a good spiritual friend for me?
Tools and Templates:
- Prayer. Conversation with God
- Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading). Traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word.
- Spiritual consolation. Experienced when our hearts are drawn toward God, even if…this happens in circumstances that the world would regard as negative
- Desolation. Experience of the soul in heavy darkness or turmoil. We are assaulted by all sorts of doubts, bombarded by temptations, and mired in self-preoccupations. We are excessively restless and anxious and feel cut off from others.
- How Can I Pray?
- What’s in Your Cup?
- The Importance of Silence in a Noisy World
- Discernment: Consolation and Desolation
- Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly
- Into the Examen Video
- The Examen Video
- How does one pray?
- triangle up in out
- UNCOVER THE WORD – LECTIO DIVINA
- Spending Time With God
- World Youth Day Talk: What is “Lectio Divina”? James Martin
- The Tea Cup
- Discernment of Spirits Video
- “To pray is no small thing. It is nothing less than a sacred pilgrimage into the heart of the whole world.” – Wayne Muller
Summary 2-page Lesson Examples:
- None at this time.