Perhaps you or someone you care about has a concern or worry. This might include general physical or spiritual health, upcoming surgery, a need for strength and confidence, a feeling of despair or discouragement, difficulty in a particular area of life such as sleeping or relationships with family, friends, or at work, or any other concerns.
The St James Prayer Chain Group involves five lay people: Armen Slusarz, Carol Kirkwood, Donna Paye, Jane Inrig and Pat Clark. Any person, whether a member of St. James or not, can request to have daily prayers offered. Each member of the group will pray daily for two weeks for the requested person, including any specifics given about why prayers are requested.
Our life of prayer is a life of seeking; having the courage to seek for God in the belief that in seeking and searching we may find God. In prayer, we put our search for God and God’s blessings into action for healing, comfort, presence, redemption and so much more. We pray because, at some level, we believe that when we pray to God we encounter God, in Her fullness and grace.
In 2015, a group of St. James members began to engage in a process that would lead them to become more prayerful people. The process involved our group (now known as the St. James Prayer Team) gathering together regularly, discussing how prayer as healing might look and be experienced by the group and our membership, as a whole. Our Prayer Team engaged scripture, focused prayer, and began to experience a continued calling to pray for the people of St. James and others who crossed our path. Over time, the Prayer Team began to solicit names of people in our St. James community and others outside our worshiping body, too, who desired focused prayer for a two-week period for physical, emotional, or mental challenges they or a loved one was facing. What began to emerge is a Prayer Team who felt called to pray for the specific needs of the parish and folks connected to them in very specific ways.
The St. James Prayer Team has always intended to move forward from primarily the receiving names of folks in our community who needed prayers to praying, once a month, after community worship, for people who physically come forward and ask to be prayed for. On the second Sunday of each month, several members of the Prayer Team will be available, in the Chapel behind the choir, immediately following Communion, to pray for any who come. A two-member team will be carefully and openly listen to your prayer request and then pray for you and your prayer concern.
It should be said that your prayer concerns will be held in absolute confidence by the Prayer Team members who hear your prayer needs on any given Sunday. Our Prayer Team has spent a lot of time talking about confidentiality and practicing that with each other. Nothing you say to our Prayer Team will be repeated to anyone.
Having a Prayer Team is still a fairly new thing for us at St. James and having special prayer on Sundays in the Chapel, for any who may desire it, is new, too. But becoming a more prayerful community can only strengthen our bonds of community, our sense of God’s continuing presence among us, and help us to understand the overwhelming nature of God’s healing love.
Please feel free to talk to Fr. George about this new ministry but you are encouraged to speak with a Prayer Team member: Donna Paye, Armen Slusarz, Carol Kirkwood, or Pat Clark. Jane Inrig’s leadership has been indispensable to the Team during their process of discernment and discovery.
PRAYER SHAPES BELIEVING
Praying Shapes Believing is the name of the iconic Rev. Dr. Leonel Mitchell’s book on liturgy and prayer. The book discusses how our praying together (in the context of our Book of Common Prayer) does something to us. When we pray, together or as individuals, we enter into the holiness of God in a way that we are often challenged to do in our daily lives. When we pray, specifically for others, particularly if it is often and intentionally, something happens as well. God has chosen, says Rowan Williams, to use us as instruments of Her healing in the world.
Our prayers acknowledge that, somehow, mysteriously, the loving God who made us and broke into the world in Jesus Christ holds us in rather high esteem. God cares about what is happening with us and what happens to us.
Prayer is how we talk to God, isn’t it? It may be sitting down in church to pray alone. Prayer may be praying in community, singing in community, or simply talking to God in the car while we drive to work. Prayer is the act of calling out to God and acknowledging our need for God, as our help, support, and friend along the way. Prayer is about relationship, as any conversation is, so when we pray, we are attempting to draw nearer to God, the most important relationship we can ever hope to have. Praying shapes how we think about God and, hopefully, how we listen to and for God.
In April of last year, a group of dedicated people came together to begin to prayerfully consider how we might use the vehicle of intentional prayer to hold our congregation in a more constant state of prayer. We were not sure when we began the journey where it would lead us. We have met monthly to pray together, study scripture, share our own spiritual journeys, and so much more to prepare ourselves to become people who are shaped more and more by prayer. We have focused a lot on healing prayer and we have met with another group to discuss their journey from prayer to healing. Our group has decided, for now, to focus on a prayer chain as a mode for praying intentionally for the needs of the congregation and any others who may ask.