Responding to the Hunger for God in Our Time
Prayer Guidance Ministry
"The essential act of prayer is to stand unprotected before God. What will God do?" This quote from Sister Wendy Beckett in her article entitled, "Simple Prayer" is core to all of prayer. Prayer is about making ourselves available to the God who is always available to us. True prayer leads us to meditation and, ultimately, to contemplation. There are many methods and spiritualities which teach us something about prayer. In the Prayer Guidance movement, we learn from St Ignatius a way of praying with the Scriptures that allows us to move into that sacred space where we can stand unprotected before God and allow God to do what God wills.
People find their own way of communicating with God. Often, as adults, we still hold on to the prayers we were taught at school or at home. There is a great richness in carrying particular prayers with us as we journey through life. In addition to using familiar prayers, the Scriptures, the Word of God, can be our prayer. The Word of God speaks into the reality of our lives if we take time with it.
Prayer Guidance helps people to use Scripture in prayer, allowing them to discover
what is going on within during time spent in prayer. It is God who teaches us how to pray. The Holy Spirit prays in us. A trained Prayer Guide listens to us and helps us to hear for ourselves how God has visited us in the prayer.
SUPPORT FOR GUIDES
Guides have a formal training programme which consists of eight retreat days based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. Accountability and responsibility for Prayer Guidance demands that there is adequate and on-going support for Guides. . . .that there is transparency for those involved in the ministry. . .that records of Prayer Guides' ministry activity are maintained and monitored. . . .and that supervision is provided. There is ongoing support for Prayer Guides, with regular cluster meetings (Guides are based in and around Dungiven, Sion Mills, Limavady, Derry City, Strabane). Ongoing development days are provided for the full complement of Guides throughout the year.
BEGINNING PRAYER GUIDANCE
At the invitation of a parish, Prayer Guides visit and offer a programme of guidance in a parish venue, e.g. 'A Week of Guided Prayer', the 'Prayer in Daily Life' Programme or another form of introduction to the experience of using Scripture for prayer.
Through the auspices of Thornhill Ministries, individuals sometimes seek the support of a Prayer Guide for a period of time. This varies according to the needs of the individual, e.g. a person may seek guidance once a week for 4/6 weeks or over a longer period of time. There are a number of places which host Lectio Divina /Group Guided Prayer with the support and leadership of the trained Thornhill Ministries' Guides.
A WEEK OF GUIDED PRAYER - How it happens
Pope Francis is a Jesuit priest. It is clear that his spirituality is based on the Ignatian way. Part of this would be using the Bible for prayer.
A Week of Guided Prayer in a parish helps people take the first steps in praying Scripture. Let's say ten people in a parish decide to do a Week of Guided Prayer. They meet together on a Friday evening with some Prayer Guides who lead the evening with prayer. People are introduced to their personal guide who will arrange to meet with them for a half hour each day from Monday to Thursday at a time that is mutually convenient.
The whole group of ten and the guides gather on the second Friday to close off the week.
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