At a recent prayer day, a number of us gathered together and focused our time, thoughts, and discussion around the 6 foci of the Prayers of the People. For each area (as articulated in the BAS: the Church, the Queen and all in authority, the world, the local community, those in need, the departed) we shared whatever came to mind; scripture passages, hymns, cultural and social references, historical facts, personal anecdotes and experiences.
Some of the sharing was done verbally, some was conversational, some were written on notes and stuck to a board. These notes took a variety of forms: some were written prayers, some were single words, some were drawings. At the end of the day, all of the notes were gathered up and burned – thereby keeping the content safely disclosed, and also lifting the prayers up in sacrifice. This of course reminds me of the lighting of the New Fire, which so many of us will celebrate later this week at the Vigil, where we ask God to “inflame us with new hope.”
Part of what was special for me in our day together was that we were gathered as community: coming from different parishes, quite a distance apart, we all assembled with the intention of spending the day together in prayer. There were no wrong answers, no criticisms; rather it was a safe space for people to be as open as they wished, or stay as quiet as they wished. It was a comfortable time where we could simply be, in the presence of one another and in the presence of God. Our conversations went in unique and delightful directions that no one could have planned for, as we allowed the Spirit to move us through our time together.
As we are now in Holy Week, a time specifically dedicated to prayer, my hope is that this prayerful practice will continue, that we will allow ourselves the time and space to connect with God through prayer. It is a dark week, a spiritually and emotionally difficult week; it is also a practically busy week as we journey with extra services and obligations. It is in this busy and difficult week that (I believe) we must rely all the more on the strength we receive from prayer. Though our bodies may tire, our hearts will, through prayer, endure: “the spirit is indeed willing, though the flesh is weak.”
May we all have a peaceful, prayerful, and meaningful Holy Week; may we all journey forward upheld in prayer.