Get a little help from your friends

It’s common for people to toss around phrases about prayer. “You’re in our thoughts and prayers,” we write in a sympathy card. “I’ll pray for you,” we say to a friend who lost a job. But when, exactly, are we doing all this praying? At church? Hopefully. Before dinner and bed? Maybe. But amid the promises and assurances of prayer and the faith that we profess, many of us have the nagging feeling that we should be praying more—that we want to pray more—but aren’t quite sure where to begin with this.

Fitting prayer into a life already packed with deadlines at work, ballet practice after school, and Cub Scouts after dinner requires not only discipline, but also often rearrangement of schedules and sometimes even priorities.

A prayer group can be the perfect access point for a richer and more complete prayer life. Whether it’s Bible study, centering prayer, a rosary group, or a parents’ prayer and discussion group, joining (or forming) a prayer group is an opportunity to commit to prayer. Jesus tells us the importance of praying with others in an informal setting: “Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst” (Matt. 18:20).

Andre, an adult formation minister and father of two small children, believes praying with at least one other person is a key to developing a vibrant faith life. “I’ve consistently observed that the people who are most alive and growing in their faith are not attempting to ‘go it alone,’” he says. “It is not always easy to find the right group or friendship that will provide this type of sustenance. But I believe that it is God’s will for us to find it, and so if we ask God and are willing to take a few risks, we will find the support we need.”

Dave, father of four teens and young adults, has belonged to a Friday before-work men’s Bible study group (Bible Boys) since his kids were young. “I got to know the Bible better, but the relationship I formed with the other guys in the group was what has kept me coming back,” he says.

Julanne, mother of three boys, formed her own weekly home-based prayer group of a few moms when her children were small. “We got together for coffee, read from scripture or a prayer book, and prayed about whatever was happening in our lives,” she says. “It was really relaxed—the kids would play around us, and every so often one of us would need to get up to keep a toddler from running off or help someone share a toy.” Julanne found that the hour of prayer and discussion about faith issues gave her strength for the rest of the week.

Paul, father of two, attends a centering prayer group in a neighboring parish once a week. The group has ties to the worldwide Contemplative Outreach, formed by Trappist Father Thomas Keating. “It’s clear to me that belonging to the centering prayer group has strengthened my faith,” Paul says. “Relying more on God has helped me in my relationship with my wife and kids and has led to an improvement in my patience.”

Stacy and Tim, parents of two boys, attend a rosary prayer group with other young families in their parish. While both work full time and their boys have many extracurriculars, they find that the time they give to prayer comes back to them in other ways. “Our rosary prayer group brings calm and spirituality to the middle of our week,” Stacy says. “We pray for those who are sick and for Mary’s continued intervention and blessing. It’s good to pray among friends.”

—by Annemarie Scobey  from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2010 and 2011 General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

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