Prayer is powerful. At the recent Pray2010 Conference in Brisbane Australia, over 2000 people gathered to learn more about our wonderful prayer heritage. Guest speakers from the world over lead the delegates in prayer that reflected the extraordinary diversity of prayer forms available in the Christian faith.
The conference focused on four key dimensions or actions of prayer:
- Prayer gathers us. It brings the people of God together in common purpose and a desire for God.
- Prayer opens us to God’s presence. It softens our hearts, melts our resistance, and creates a space of safety where we can let God inhabit our lives.
- Prayer transforms us. It changes us, converts us, and helps us to grow in virtue and the spiritual gifts.
- Prayer sends us forth in love. It empowers us, motivates us, and equips us for mission.
For Christians, prayer is not an optional extra to the Christian life – it is the very life-blood of our faith. It can be expressed and experienced in countless ways -as many ways as there are people. The place of prayer in the school community is also vitally important. Catholic schools have the advantage of being able to schedule prayer assemblies and School Masses regularly. These are also opportunities to connect with the parent body, many of whom attend their parishes infrequently.
Parent Prayer Groups
Some schools are blessed with active parent prayer groups. These communities of faithful parents bathe the school in prayer and actively contribute to the sense of belonging and identity among staff, students and families. Establishing a prayer group can be the initiative of a parent or of a staff member in collaboration with parents. Here’s some tips for making it work without stress:
- Timing: Set a regular time that can be easily remembered by parents such as Mondays immediately after the morning bell. Keep the time commitment short, no more than 20-30 minutes so that toddlers don’t get too restless. Start on time so that those who want to stay for a chat and cuppa won’t holdup those who have to run.
- Format: Have set format that is easy to follow. There should be space for spontaneous prayers but the major part of it should be to a formula. See the ‘Let’s Pray!’ handout for ideas.
- Communication: Create a way for the school community to submit prayer intentions such as a book at the school office, a prayer box, text message contact. Give feedback in the school and parish newsletters to attract new members.
Author: Francine & Byron Pirola
Over to you! Have you participated in a parent prayer group with the school? Have you started one? Got any tips for us or any favourite devotions of your group? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.