Prayer and Struggle

CREATE A SACRED TIME AND SPACE
Leave all screens turned off and outside of the gathering space/room.
Set a single candle in the center of your space or on a child’s nightstand or headboard.

As you light the candle, you might sing or say, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Holy Spirit, Come to Us)1
Latin:
Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

English:
Holy Spirit, come to us.
Holy Spirit, come to us.

Add the verses as you feel called to do so:
Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come, Breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.


TAKE A MOMENT
This is a time to become fully present with one another and with God.
Invite everyone to take a deep breath in and exhale fully.
Repeat this deep breathing for about 20 seconds, everyone at their own pace.

LET GO & RECEIVE
Excitement over past or future events - or, worries, pain and/or guilt - can keep us from immersing in God’s loving Presence, right here and now.

You might invite participants to Let Go as follows:

“In one or two words, how have you lived as your little self, today?”

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the Holy Spirit and the light of God.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain caused by letting your ego be your guide, today.

Pause

You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:

“How have you lived as your True Self, today?

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: notice how the Spirit is as close to you as your breath.
Breathe out: thank God for living within you each day.”

Pause


READING SUMMARY
Before moving on, take two more deep breaths.

Then share a summary of this evening’s text. Using your own words is strongly encouraged. If that feels uncomfortable or overwhelming, or if you would like a young person to lead this portion, here are some thoughts on this story:

This reading is one of sadness. The writer does not specifically say what they are sad about, but we know that things are not going great. We all have had to try to figure out what to do in hard times. We might turn to friends, our guardians, teachers, siblings, and trusted others. It is very important to have those people to support us and share in times of stress or sadness. 

Take a minute to think and name some of those important people. Maybe even say one or two things about the person that helps you to trust them.

The reading for tonight is telling us that prayer is also an important support for us when times are troubling. The writer is crying for God and leaning into God’s mercy, forgiveness, and promise that God is always with us and is an active work in the world. 


SHARING THE READING
Readings can be shared around the circle by verse, or a different reader can lead each night.

A reading from Psalm 1302

1Out of the depths I cry to you, YHWH!
2God, hear my voice!
 Let your ears be attentive
 to my voice, my cries for mercy!
3If you kept track of our sins, YHWH,
 who could stand before you?
4But with you is forgiveness,
 and for this we revere you.

5So I wait for you, YHWH -
 my soul waits,
 and in your word I place my trust.
6My soul longs for you, YHWH,
 more than sentinels long for the dawn,
 more than sentinels long for the dawn.
7Israel, put your hope in YHWH,
 for with YHWH is abundant love
 and the fullness of deliverance;
8God will deliver Israel
 from all its failings.


DISCUSS
At the close of the reading you might begin with basic questions, such as:
Did this reading have any words or ideas that anyone doesn’t understand?
Let’s explore what those might mean, together.

If you are ready for further discussion, you might consider these questions:
*What was a challenging time for you? What did you do to help during that challenging time?
*When is it easy or hard to use prayer when you are struggling?


CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
From your devotional basket, please take the following items:
~Notebook or binder for everyone
~Drawing or coloring utensil(s) for everyone

Be sure notebooks/binders and utensils are handy but not a distraction.
You might invite the group into prayer with these or similar prompts:

I invite everyone to find a comfortable posture appropriate to prayer and I encourage everyone to close their eyes.

Allow a few beats for the movement to settle down.

Let’s all take a few deep breaths to settle our minds:
~let go of the discussion questions and conversation;
~let go of the Bible story;
~let yourself rest for a moment in the love of your family and the presence of
God.

After a few deep breaths, share the following:

Notice your breath.
Notice the physical sensations of breathing in:
the feel of the cool air in your nostrils;
the movement of your rib cage as you inhale;
the expansion of your abdomen as you welcome air in;
the physical pause before you exhale...

Pause

Notice your breath.
Notice the physical sensations of breathing out:
the contraction of your abdomen as you exhale;
the muscles of your torso as they push air out;
the feel of warm air flowing through your nostrils;
the pause before you inhale...

Pause

Notice your breath.
Notice each breath in and each breath out.
Notice how the air fills you.

Pause to allow for five breaths

Notice your breath and imagine the love of God coming in and filling your body.
As you feel the physical sensations of your breath moving in and out of our body,
feel, 
pay attention to,
notice how the love and support of God flows into you.
With each breath, focus on the life-giving nourishment of the oxygen and the life-giving nourishment of God’s love. Let that nourishment fill you.

Take a longer pause


At the end of your silent time, invite attention back to the room with words like these:

I invite you to return your awareness to this place.
You might wiggle your toes and fingers or gently roll your shoulders or your head.
Slowly bring your body and mind back to here and now, and rest for a moment.

Resting is important: the transition from silence to immediate action or thought can be very jarring. Let the movement from rest to engagement be gentle.

PERSONAL REFLECTION
After a few beats, while people are still transitioning, introduce the reflection questions, as follows:

As we bring our awareness back to here and now, let’s consider how God was with us 
in this time. 
Reflect on a thought or feeling that seemed powerful or meaningful to you.
Where or in what way did you experience God in this time?

Allow about 3-5 minutes; gauge the activity-level of participants to determine when they are “done”.
Invite people to share their reflections with the group/family, only as they are comfortable. Not everyone will have something to share or feel comfortable sharing their experience. Let this be okay: not everyone needs to share.

Listen carefully to one another.
Acknowledge each sharing with words of affirmation.
Discussion can and should be about curiosity, clarity and/or affirmation.
This is not a time for correction or psycho-analyzing experiences.

BEDTIME SONG
As the following song is sung or said, the Leader should gather all materials utilized during the practice. Stow them in the basket for easy removal and future use.

As adults prepare to leave the room, you might sing or say, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Holy Spirit, Come to Us)1
Latin:
Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

English:
Holy Spirit, come to us.
Holy Spirit, come to us.

Add the verses as you feel called to do so:
Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come, Breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.



FINAL BLESSING
As they blow out the candle, children can offer the following blessing/prayer with their adults:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”

Adult(s) can share the following blessing/prayer with the child[ren] as they turn out the lights:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”


  1. With One Voice, Augsburg Fortress; 1995: #686.
From The Inclusive Bible (Rowman & Littlefield; 2007). Used with permission from The Quixote Center.

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