Prayerful listening, a form of group spiritual direction, is a contemplative practice for individuals who seek to discern God’s presence in their lives and to deepen their relationship with God. As in all prayer, it is the Spirit who initiates and sustains the prayer. Each member participates by being available to God on behalf of the other members in the group. The fruit of this practice can be a blessing for them, the community, and all creation.
In the midst of a busy life, many people find it difficult to pay attention to what’s going on in their lives in order to discover and be responsive to God. Being part of a prayerful listening group can support the desire to pay attention.
The Process of Prayerful Listening
The group opens with a brief reading or chant, which we absorb in stillness. Knowing that God is present, we wait in silence, resting in God’s love. After this, each participant has an opportunity to share with the group, speaking about the recent events or experiences in their lives, and through them how they are sensing God’s movement in their lives – or not.
Each individual’s contribution is received in prayerful silence with the intention of being open to God’s deepest desire for the person. There is an opportunity to respond to what has been shared. A simple guideline for this response comes from the Quaker tradition—-be neither determined to speak nor determined not to speak. Rather, be willing to remain silent and continue prayerfully holding the person’s story.
Refrain from giving advice or telling your own story (“that reminds me of when I…”). Also, if the facilitator or anyone else senses that the group is getting off track, that person may suggest that the whole group pause in silence before continuing.
The process is repeated until all members have presented. In closing, members are invited to focus on the shared experience to discern if anything supported it or distracted from it.
Is This for Me?
Your decision needs to be rooted in prayer. Here are some questions you can reflect on and bring to prayer:
– Can I stay in the presence of God, in silence, on behalf of another?
– Can I listen without judging or giving advice?
– Can I receive another’s story with patience and prayer?
– Am I willing to tell my story?
What Is Asked of You
An appreciation of silence as God’s primary language and the ability to be still.
– Desire to deepen your relationship with God in community
– Commitment to meeting once a month
– Commitment to intercessory prayer for group members
– Commitment to confidentiality
When, Where, and Who
Prayerful Listening groups will meet from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. the first Monday evening of each month from Nov. 4 through June 2 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 73 S. Fullerton Avenue, Montclair, NJ.
**Our classes are currently full. However, if any openings appear, we will post that information and interested people can contact Angie Rispoli at firstname.lastname@example.org**