“Persevere in Prayer…”

Last month, a group of Christian formation ministers from around our diocese met to pray together, and to talk about prayer.  Over the course of our time together, a question emerged:  how can we encourage and provide opportunities members of our parishes (individuals of all ages) to pray with and for one another?

Two simple ideas were offered in response to the question:

(1.)  “This Little Light of Mine:”  A Candlemas Tradition –  One lay minister shared that in her parish on Candlemas, each child is given a candle to color during the liturgy of the word.  (The candle is printed on card stock, using a template like this.)  After the candle is decorated, it is marked with its artist’s name, and a sticky magnet is affixed to the reverse side of the candle.  During the offertory on candlemas, the candles are offered along with the gifts of bread, wine, money, and any actual candles that the parish may use.  After the candles are blessed, each adult household in the parish takes home a  child’s candle to place on their refrigerator, as a reminder to pray for the child.  The candle is a visual cue to recall the light we receive at baptism, and the promise the assembly makes to, “do all in our power to support [the baptismal candidate] in her life in Christ” (BCP 303).

zcbaptism

(2.) “Faith Interviews”:   An opportunity to nurture relationships of prayer and encouragement.

This activity facilitated an opportunity for each member of a 4th & 5th grade Sunday School class to spend two Sunday mornings in conversation with an adult in the parish that had been selected as a interview partner for him/her.  Prior to the meetings, the children came up worked together to identify questions to ask.  During the interviews, we asked the kids to spend the first Sunday learning about his/her partner and writing down the adult’s answers to the interview questions.  Writing down the answers allowed everyone to slow down in the conversation and gave the kids something to return to when we reflected on the conversations as a larger group.  (It also helped them feel like investigative reporters, a fun role to play!)  Children spent the second Sunday answering questions for the adult, then reflecting on the process with the larger group.  During reflection time, they discussed which questions were hard to answer, which were easy to answer, what surprised them about the adults’ answers, what they had in common with their adult partner, how their adult partner helped them imagine living faithfully in God’s world. 

Interview questions: 
  • What is your earliest memory related to faith, or to church?
  • Why do you go to church?  Did you grow up going to church?
  • Do you have a favorite Bible story or passage of scripture?
  • Do you have a favorite hymn or song of faith?
  • How do you pray?  Where do you pray?
  • Were your parents Christians?  Did you ever disagree with your parents over what it means to follow Jesus?
  • Do you pray every day?
  • Do you find it difficult to be a Christian in this world?
  • Tell me about someone who has helped you to trust in God.
  • Tell me about a time when you changed your life in some way out of love for God.
Template invitation for adult participants:
 
“Dear James,
I am writing to invite you to join our 4th & 5th grade Sunday School class on the coming two Sundays [dates].  On this coming Sunday,we will enjoy some breakfast treats and an icebreaker, then will ask adults and youth to pair off for “faith interviews.”  This is an opportunity for students to invite you into an honest conversation about what faith looks like in our lives, how we grow in love for God and for God’s world, and how we sometimes struggle to have (or keep) faith.  On the next Sunday, you’ll have the opportunity to interview your partner, and can help them begin to imagine how they might tell the story of their life of faith so far.
Below, I’ve listed a few questions that our children thought up.  (Don’t worry, we’ll make sure the conversation isn’t too painful!)  The elementary-school students  will be prepared to ask questions on Sunday, and your patience and generosity in answering will help give them confidence to begin to answer some of the questions they ask you…”

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