Prayer Challenge Aftershocks
Over the years, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to study prayer in adult forums or small group settings. I always learned a lot, mostly of an intellectual type, but my ongoing prayer life remained the same “note to God” that consisted of family concerns, tradition-based communications, etc. Several times I have participated in the prayers leading up to Easter here at church—a profoundly moving experience—so when the chance to participate in the Saint Peter 21-Day Prayer Challenge this last January, it seemed like a reasonable New Year’s resolution. Sign me up!
The first day of the three-week challenge provided instructions to listen to the scripture about the wise men, noting the word or phrase that stood out (Lectio Divina). The word that stuck out to me most was “star”. Sharing my reaction to this idea with the group was hard, but each day the sharing got easier. Day two brought the Examen, which as an early bird required me to review the previous day’s activities. I quickly saw that this prayer type works better at the end of the day! The week continued with journaling, focusing on Christian art (Visio Divina), and ending in silent meditation. The weekend was ours for song, or poetry, or service!
The following weeks we continued in this pattern, progressively spending more time in thought and prayer. I looked forward to the insights the other participants left in the comments on the website, learning from their point of view. I had no idea that prayer could be found in a painting, and I will read scripture differently now, looking for the special word or phrase that the Holy Spirit has sent for that day. I learned that I bring joy to God. I’m loved as I am.
The most important thing I learned in the prayer challenge was to worship fully, deeply, and in my own way. In the final lesson, Peter recognized Jesus as Messiah, and spoke the words, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God!” This statement was one of fact, not from Peter’s ego, not from my thought processes. You, not I. My prayers so often include “I need”, “I want”, “I believe”, I . . . . . . . ! Now I can pray, “You are the Christ. I am loved. I am cared for. My needs will be met! Thank you, Lord Jesus!”
This article was written by Saint Peter member Vicky Simpson. The 21-Day Prayer Challenge lasted from January 7-27th and took place entirely on the Saint Peter website. To do your own self-guided prayer challenge, you can access the content at stplc.org/challenge. Stay tuned for another prayer challenge in January 2020!