In a world that is seemingly non-stop, our souls are in need of pausing, connecting with God and renewal. The spiritual practice of prayer connects us to our Creator, but how do we create space for this in the midst of busy ministry? How do we help invite our congregations into this practice for themselves? Below you will find a few ideas to both engage in prayer and to invite others into a more prayerful life.
As a church leader, how do I engage in prayer personally?
- Create space for personal sabbath. Intentionally set aside calendar space for sabbath time. The amount of time needed will be different for each individual. If you have only a short amount of time, that is still a great place to start. Sabbath time is time that is not about work, running errands, or being productive. It is time to simply be in the presence of God and do those things that connect you to God. Take a walk in creation, engage in spiritual journaling, practice silence, enjoy song writing, create art, or engage in Bible study. You get the idea. Simply find a way you can connect to God and make this a practice for your own soul.
- Explore different prayer practices. Research and explore new ways to connect with God by practicing the ancient ways of doing this. Check out Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster to learn more about spiritual practices.
- Connect with others who will pray for and with you. Meet a friend or small group of friends with whom you can be your authentic self. Share life together and pray for one another.
How do I invite my congregation into living the discipline of a prayerful life?
- Set families up for success. Present simple prayer practices and provide the guide and tools to do them. Provide resources and ideas for families to bring prayer practices into their daily family lives. Hold a parents’ workshop. Teach a series as a small group or Sunday school class or send ideas home in your church newsletter. Use social media to share ideas and get dialogue going about them. Two resources to help with this are Passing It On by Kara Lassen Oliver and Seamless Faith by Traci Smith
- Set up a sacred prayer space that is friendly for all ages. Help all ages engage in prayer in a hands-on, experiential way.through stations. Check out www.freerangeworship.com for ideas and resources to do this.
- Model different ways to pray in the way you lead. As you open your next training meeting, provide a creative reflection as your opening prayer. Or, if you feel your family’s lives are busy and stress-filled, open the next gathering with them with a time for reflective and quiet prayer. As you experiment with different prayer practices, think of ways to model the prayer practices with your congregation as well.
May these ideas encourage and inspire you as you connect with God through prayer and as you invite others into this practice alongside you.
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Joanna Cummings is the Minister of Children and Spiritual Formation at Forest Hills United Methodist Church in Brentwood, TN where she has served since 2009. Previously, Joanna has worked in youth ministry, serving churches in middle TN as well as middle school camp ministries. Joanna has a Master's degree in Religion from Memphis Theological Seminary. She is passionate about nurturing the spirituality of children, their families and bringing generations together in the faith community. Joanna is married to Chris, and they have a dog named Shalom. You can usually find them creating up-cycled art and doing DIY projects around the home.