2018 Proposal: The Second Annual On-Line Lenten Study based on the book:
Pray. Act. Pray Again: A 40-Day Walk with God
This year Lent begins on February 14, 2018. I invite all who want to go deeper in their Lenten participation to help us form a Beloved Community that will seek to understand how God is calling us to love.
Last year I presented Three Levels of participation. I will include a description to refresh our memories. This year I will add a deeper Forth Level for consideration. A desire to form a Beloved Community is my passion since attending a conference offered to pastors in the Arlington District of Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church by then District Superintendent, Bishop Young Jin Cho. I was inspired by Reverend Graham Standish’s description of a Beloved Community that listened for the direction of the Holy Spirit. Standish assured us that seeking the direction of the Holy Spirit would not pit us against each other. So if we were fighting, we needed to step back and seek a consensus that was inclusive. When we tried this at my church, one woman wryly asserted, “I guess if you bring God into the equation we have no other choice.”
For those who want to form a Beloved Community in Level 4, there will be specific assignments and an expectation that each person will participate at some level at least once a week. If you have last year’s book, reread your entries. If not, you can get it on Amazon. I will want to speak to each person at Level 4 at least once on an “old fashioned phone call” before we start. More to follow.
Level 1: This is the easiest level. You can work at your own pace with the 7-WEEK HANDOUT. If you include the book PRAY. ACT. PRAY AGAIN, you may want to read some of the additional daily prayers. This Level is a personal experience—especially if this is the first time you have tried praying intentionally. Responses are not expected but are always welcomed. Prayer should never be a burden. My own prayer times have been positive experiences for over 70 years!
Level 2: In this level, I encourage you to read daily the scriptures from our book, PRAY. ACT. PRAY AGAIN, and/or the weekly scripture I will send on Ash Wednesday, and then each Monday for the next forty days. Sending feedback from what you are learning and experiencing is not necessary, but welcomed. I want to stress that working at your level of comfort is important. Think of this as the time you spend with God, a very dear friend who knows you and loves you.
Level 3: This advanced level involves focusing on reading the scripture to help discern what kind of actions God might be suggesting for you. (If you want to work at this level, please let me know, and I will send more information.)
Level 4: This Level is new this year. For quite some time, I have been keeping a daily prayer journal. I created my own process based on a model I found in the late 1980s. I have tweaked that form; made it my own; and suggest, if you participate at this level, that you work on your personal style of recording prayers.
The acronym I use is the following.
First I ask, “What is my PART today?”
So before I even hop out of bed, I try to remember to ask myself four questions:
What can I PRAISE about God today?
What do I need to ADMIT needs work in me this day?
What do I want to REQUEST God to help me with today?
For what do I want to give THANKS?
Here’s an example of how I answered these questions today:
I PRAISE God for the beauty of creation I see out my window everyday.
I ADMITTED my need to stop procrastinating and write this study.
I REQUESTED inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
I THANKED God for the joy I feel when I think of my six grandchildren.
This class has four goals.
Goal 1: To provide a vehicle for personal refection during Lent that will help to deepen individual relationships with God within a Beloved Community. I will provide information through emails, social media, and /or my web page.
Goal 2: To invite people to use multiple methods of communication: the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging, email, (possible conference calls if I can figure out how to do that) and other methods.
Goal 3: To encourage people to record what they are learning systematically so they can see their own personal growth. If you did this last year—read what you wrote again this year.
Goal 4: To form a Beloved Community with those who feel inspired and called to participate at this new level offered for the first time in 2018.
If you want to participate at Levels 2-4, I ask you to write an introductory statement (it can be one sentence) about yourself that I can share. I will set up a private page for those on Facebook. Our website is prayactprayagain.org. I am 70 years old—so using all the social media tools is a learning experience for me. As we break new ground together, and I hope we can discover new ways to shine God’s eternal image into the world using 21st Century tools.
Remember: All of these guidelines are suggestions. There are no requirements at Levels 1-3. Take what feeds your soul, and ignore or let me know about anything that does not seem relevant to you. Also, let me know if there is a way you see that might improve how people can participate. Thank you so much. Last year was an amazing experience for me and the feedback I got was outstanding. Please let me know if you want to participate.
Last year I was working on writing my dissertation on spiritual healing for a DMIN project. This year, due to travel and family obligations, I have decided to write a practical book about how prayers and meditations help us to heal. Thank you for even considering joining this journey.
Be blessed, and know you are perfectly made in God’s image.
* Pray. Act. Pray Again is more properly described as Act. Act. Reflect on Acts!
* Foundational premise of the book:
"It is not really stranger, nor less strange, that my prayers should affect the course of events than that my other actions should do so. They have not advised or changed God's mind --- that is, His overall purpose. But that purpose will be realized in different ways according to the actions, including the prayers, of His creatures.” C.S. Lewis. “The Efficacy of Prayer,” Atlantic Monthly, January, 1959.
* Based on the ancient practice of theThe Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience; it uses daily journaling to capture our prayers, actions, and insights.
* Personalizing scripture into prayers – allow us to feel closer to God and enter into his presence in a more real way.
* The 7 weeks of study – focus on the events during the last few days of Jesus’ life, similar to the Stations of the Cross in the Catholic Church.
Pray. Act. Pray Again. A 40-Day Walk with God
Week 1: The Agony in the Garden
Day 1. Known (Ash Wednesday)
Day 2. Released
Day 3. Provision
Day 4. Rescued
Garden accounts in the 4 Gospels: “…the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak…”
Mark 14: 32-50
Luke 22: 39-53
John 18: 1-12
Focus Verse: Day 1 – Known by God (Adapted from Psalm 139 (A Psalm of David). Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and are intimately acquainted with all of my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, Oh Lord, you know it all! Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? You formed my inward parts and created me in my mother’s womb. I give thanks to you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. In your book were written ahead of time all the days ordained for me, even before one of them passed. Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in your everlasting way. Amen
Because the divine became fully human, we know that God fully comprehends all aspects of our human frailties, especially our propensity to sin. There is nothing that we can hide from God, and yet God loves us anyway.
Reflect on what it means to be truly known by God to the core of your being. Does this knowledge influence your attitude as you approach God in prayer?
What do the prayers for this week tell you about the nature of human? What do they tell you about the nature of God?
3. What is your personal response to being known, released, chosen and rescued by God?