An Ecumenical Initiative
under the Direction of
Week of Guided Prayer Network
of Hamilton Conference
of the United Church of Canada
Abundant Life comes from God and embraces light and dark. Our world often portrays light as good and darkness as evil. As children of Abraham our origin story tells us that God drew all that is good out of dark. Light and dark are gifts from our Creator to nurture us and all creation into abundant living.
In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor writes “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”
Throughout this week, we will pray and explore gift and challenge in light and darkness and seek to recognize God’s dream that all creatures would enjoy abundant life.
A Week of Guided Prayer is a retreat in the midst of daily life. Participants focus attention on God’s activity in their lives through praying scripture. The week is based on our trust that God is interested in communicating with us through prayer. Rather than drawing apart from our normal agenda, a Week of Guided Prayer helps us to centre on God in the midst of our regular activities.
Evelyn Underhill writes: “It is not easy under every day schedules to learn and maintain the act of steadfast attention to God; yet no art could more closely serve God’s purpose than this.”
A Week of Guided Prayer is an affirmation of our intention to pray. It is the discipline of prayer within our daily life.
Praying scripture involves reading a passage until it becomes familiar and then in a spirit of openness to God letting our imagination engage the words or story. Using all five senses we experience the scripture and listen for God’s direction for our lives through the passage.An opening two-hour session, usually held on a Sunday afternoon, provides an opportunity for fellowship between Retreatants and those who will companion them through the week. It introduces the theme and an experience of praying scripture with journalling. The Retreatant is given the daily scripture material for prayer based upon the theme which unfolds during the week.
Together the Retreatant and Companion establish a schedule of daily meetings of one-half hour in length.
Monday to Friday the Retreatants covenant to pray 30 minutes privately each day, and to meet with the Companion 30 minutes daily to be guided in prayer experience. The Companion supports the Retreatant, seeking to keep them attentive to God’s leading, and guiding the Retreatant through questions, suggestions and shared experience.
The closing two-hour session usually held on the Saturday morning is a celebration of how and where God has touched us through the week. It offers time for silent reflection, large and small group sharing, and an evaluation of the week. Opportunities for ongoing prayer support are reviewed. Through communion Retreatants are commissioned to continue their journey.
Having a labyrinth available offers participants and congregation members a different and meaningful prayer experience. All ages are welcome to come to First Presbyterian to enjoy this active way of praying. Our labyrinth will be available in the downstairs hall from Mon evening , and then during the following days and evenings until Fri afternoon.