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 | By Sister Ann Shields

Praying Together in Jesus’ Name

To gather in Christ’s name means we want to come together to seek the will of God, and then to pray that his will may become a reality for us, for our group, for the person for whom we are praying, or for the difficult set of circumstances which needs a resolution.

All of us at certain times in our lives meet very challenging circumstances, and sometimes we see no obvious way to resolve them. Anxiety, anger, frustration and/or sorrow can fill our hearts. Even when we think we know what to do, that path may not be open because of circumstances beyond our control or people who are not open to hearing from us. In these types of situations, what should we do?

Before I answer that question, let me lay a necessary foundation.

Each of us, as Christians, needs to have a daily prayer time with God. We must set aside time – daily – where we read a psalm and a passage from one of the Gospels, for example. We try to see what Jesus is teaching us through the Gospels. We think about a way we might grow in that truth, and how to incorporate its lesson into our daily lives and conversations. We also may read a psalm as a way to praise him for his goodness toward us; to thank him, to worship him. Start out this way –15 or 20 minutes daily and watch what fruit it begins to bear after just a month or so.

Then, after a few weeks of daily prayer, look around for ways to broaden your prayer experience by seeking other people in your parish who wish to grow closer to the Lord by praying with others.

Your small group may focus on a problem in the parish, the city, your neighborhood or a more national or global concern. There is also room to bring personal burdens in order to ask for prayer. It can be very comforting to know others are praying for you when you are facing a challenge. Ask God together for his will for the situation. Don’t assume you know it: even when you think it is obvious – ask him. God always wants to do so much more for us. If you are praying every day in your own house and reading the Scriptures daily, you can begin to “see as God sees.” In other words, you begin to take on God’s priorities; not just what your senses tell you or what you hope for.

For the first six months or so, just get to know one another and pray together. Then when you think you are ready, begin to pray for the needs of others outside the group. A small faith group can be of great service to a parish. Ask your pastor how you can pray for him; ask other people on the parish staff how you could serve them through prayer. It is amazing how God can use you to bring new life to a parish, a school or a local concern.

But remember, your own daily prayer time is essential if any group is going to bear good fruit. We need to bear more good fruit for God’s kingdom and for all those we love. If you are not already a part of a faith-sharing or prayer group, seriously consider joining one in your parish or beginning one.

Ponder these Scripture passages before you make any decisions:

  • Jeremiah 29:10-14.
  • Matthew 5:43-48, 6:1-14, Lk. 6:27-36.
  • Romans 12: 1-21
  • 1Thess. 5:1-22 and 2Thess. 1:11
  • 1Timothy 2:1-7, James 5:13-18

When your small faith group is gathered:

  • Begin with a song or read a psalm aloud together.
  • Thank God for the good things in your life.
  • Thank God for prayers that have been answered.

When you begin to pray for the needs that are on your heart, you may want to name them all and then pray, or pray them one at a time.

Your prayers can be in your own words or as part of a litany or a novena. You could pray the rosary together for all the intentions or the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Then close the time of prayer with another psalm or a hymn.

Close the day/evening, if you wish, with light refreshments. It is important to have time just to be together and build your relationships. All that helps when you come into God’s presence in prayer.