I think everyone who’s been through the tortuous process of starting and/or running a prayer group can attest that it’s not easy to persuade people to attend. Maybe some of you have stories about this that you can share with us.
I’ve also been part of fledgling prayer groups that last for a couple months and then fade away.
Is it that people find prayer boring? Is it that it’s not exciting? Wouldn’t most people prefer hanging out with their friends watching a movie, rather than praying? We see this in many parish youth groups where there is more movie-watching than there is prayer (nothing wrong with movie-watching, mind you, especially if it’s a Salt + Light TV Production).
Many years ago, during a Confirmation Retreat that I was helping facilitate, one of the other leaders ran an activity which has stayed with me all these years.
In this exercise we asked the kids to write down things that have to do with relationships, especially things that are important in love relationships. We came up with a long list: honesty, trust, listening, commitment, faithfulness, love, time spent together…
We then wrote down things that were important to good prayer. They were the same things: time, listening, commitment, trust, honesty, etc. If our relationship with God is a love relationship, then all the things that are important in any love relationship are important in our relationship with God. And praying is how we communicate with our loved one.
I’m always telling people that they need to pray. Prayer is relationship. I would never imagine that I could maintain a healthy Marriage if I merely dedicated one hour a week to my wife. I would never pretend that I could get to truly know someone I would like to know if I only spend one hour a week with them. Relationship demands time. In the same way, prayer demands time.
But it doesn’t have to be all formal. For the same reason that you wouldn’t only get together with your husband and read prepared texts to each other for half an hour in the morning and then half an hour at bedtime, that may not be the best approach to Prayer.
Prayer is relationship. We should be able to talk to God all the time. Share your joys and sorrows with God all the time. Thank him throughout the day. Be conscious when you need to say sorry. Worship him when you see a beautiful sunset. And then, yes, those moments of more formal, scheduled prayer are good too, because sometimes, if we don’t schedule it, we won’t do it. Just ask any married couple for whom “date nights” have been important.
Next week, let’s look at the different kinds of prayer. In the meantime, send me
your stories of starting or running prayer groups. How did it go? What made it work?
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: email@example.com