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Personal Prayer

Topic:  Personal prayer.

Preparing for the Session

Familiarize yourself with the gospel passage Matthew 6:5-15 and the church's teaching about personal prayer. For more information on prayer visit the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese a www.goarch.org.

Find a room that can be closed.  Inside the room have 2 or 3 radios on different stations or with different CD’s playing loudly.  You will also need one volunteer in the back of the room and visible as the participants enter, whispering the Gospel passage below.  NOTE if your priest approves, the room could be the church.  If so, the whisperer should be sitting in a pew.

Materials Needed:

  • Bible (if possible have one for everyone to follow along)
  • 2 or 3 radios or CD players.
  • Copies of the daily prayer (see end of session)

Objective

To help participants understand the need to remove distractions when they pray.

Opening Prayer

All Holy Trinity have mercy on us.  Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities.  Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for Your Name’s sake.

Activity

As the participants start to arrive, have them gather outside of the meeting place until everyone is present. With everyone, enter into the room while the music is playing loudly and the Whisperer is reading the Gospel passage below at a very low volume.  Every 20 seconds slightly lower the volume of each radio/CD.  Repeat and continue doing so until the room is quiet and everyone knows what the Whisperer is saying.  Gather everyone in a circle as you discus the meaning of this activity.

Discussion (accept all answers and reflect back)

  • How would you describe the room/church when you entered?  (Inquire further: Could you hear the Whisperer?  Could you hear each other?)
  • How would you describe the mood of the room?  (Inquire further: Was it peaceful, contemplative? Could you have a decent conversation?)
  • How long did it take until you could understand what the Whisperer was saying?
  • Why did it take so long?
  • What did you have to do to hear the Whisperer?
  • What did you think about what the Whisperer had to say?
  • What if the Whisperer was God?  Then how would you feel about the message?

Now, Read the Gospel passage aloud and clearly to everyone. If possible hand out bibles or a copy of the passage for the young people to read along.

Read Matthew 6:5-15(NKJ)

5 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.6But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8"Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10Your kingdom come.  Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.  11Give us this day our daily bread.  12And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.  13And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

14"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

State (paraphrase in your own words)

You will find that everyone responds differently to Jesus’ direction onpersonal prayer even though He is very clear in His instruction.  Can you tell me what those directions are?  Let participants review Matthew 6:5-15 and discuss.  If you need to encourage conversation ask:

  • How are we to pray?  (Listen for responses like: Are we to pray so everyone can hear us or quietly?) Why do you think that is?
  • Do we need to give God a checklist of what we need? Why not?
  • Do you pray even when you don’t need anything?
  • Do you think God tell us to say, “Hallowed be thy name.” because He needs to hear it or because we need to say it?  Could you say the same about the rest of the prayer?

Wrap Up and Challenge (paraphrase in your own words)

Some of you probably didn’t care what the Whisperer had to say, others had to wait for the room to quiet down and others took the initiative to go closer to the Whisperer and might have even called your friends over to hear.  Did your actions mirror your prayer life?  If the Whisperer was God, how do you wish you had responded?  I want you to know that God is constantly whispering to us that He loves us.  Every morning, afternoon and evening He is trying to tell you that He loves you.  The problem is that we keep our lives so busy and loud that we can’t hear what He has to say.   I want to challenge you to remember this activity and do what you have to do to be able to hear the Whisper.  For some you, you will have to care.  For others, you will have to quiet your environment.  Yet others will need to physically position themselves to be closer so as to hear.  Whatever it takes, it is your responsibility to do what you have to do to hear the Whisper.

Pass out closing prayer.  Ask participants to sit in silence and to reflect on the session.  (5 minutes)  When time is up, gather everyone to read the closing prayer together and dismiss group.

Closing Prayer

Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will.  In every hour of the day, reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all.  In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings.  In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all things are under your care.  Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.  Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day and all that it shall bring.  Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray Yourself in me.  Amen.

Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

About the Author:  Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. In the past, she served the Metropolises of Detroit and Pittsburgh as their director of youth and young adult ministries.

PRAYER OF METROPOLITAN PHILARET OF MOSCOW

Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will.  In every hour of the day, reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all.  In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings.  In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all things are under your care.  Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.  Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day and all that it shall bring.  Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray Yourself in me.  Amen.

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