You know that famous Wesleyan question, “how is it with your soul?” Does anyone else find it to be a daunting icebreaker? I have often heard from small group leaders that it can be a challenge to get their groups to go beyond surface conversations or fill in the blank Bible studies. As a spiritual director, I spend my vocational time exploring this question but even I am challenged to incorporate it into modern conversations over the hip soundtrack of coffee stores.
In all honesty, this is not a question for Facebook, Twitter or the Sunday morning hall question of “how ya’ doing today friend?” Those formats require fast, quick answers. But our souls are not made for fast and quick. The truth of our sacred selves needs the safety of a moment when we can stop to actually listen and be heard. In other words, it requires the practice of intimacy.
I work with a ministry called Equipping Lydia. A regular practice in our work of spiritual formation is a process we call, “Prayer, Share, Prayer.” It is a helpful process for baring our souls. No experience is needed and the instructions below can easily be copied onto a page and shared. It can be modified to fit the needs of just about any group. The time frame averages to 10-15 minutes per person in the group.
The “Prayer/Share/Prayer format is outlined below. Take a look. Take a breath. How is it with your soul today?
1) First Step: Prayer
Group: Choose someone to go first. Everyone take a deep breath and silently pray for the person who will share.
A sample prayer might be: “Holy Spirit, guide (name) as she shares her heart. Help her to speak truth. Help me to hear You through her Words and through the silence.”
2) Second Step: Share
The Person who is sharing: When you are ready, begin talking with your group about what is happening in your spirit today. Speak for a few minutes about what the Lord is percolating within you today. Try to avoid talking about other people, using the word “you,” or giving a mini-sermon. No, this is about you and your relationship with God and what happened in that relationship today. If you choose not to share it is totally ok. Simply say “pass.” May the group offer a prayer of blessing for you?
Group: Listen as an act of selflessness. As the listener, avoid being the fixer. Do not interpret, interject or “solve,” simply listen.
3) Third Step: Prayer
Group: When the speaker is done, pray for that person…out loud or silently.
When your group has finished praying, begin the same process for the next person.
Remember, you don’t need to “fix” anyone…simply lift her/him to the Lord in love. It is helpful if you can pray Scripture or even sing a song that rises in your heart. Perhaps as s/he shared, a picture came into your mind. You can share that in prayer. There is no need to interpret it, allow the Lord to do that in her/his spirit.