This is the fifth session of a five-part series exploring prayer – speaking and listening to God. The series will cover why, how and what of prayer, helping participants develop their conversation with God. This session, and each session in the series, includes a short video from Justin Welby, some discussion questions and suggestions for response. While each session will work as a standalone session, they will be best done in a series as the discussion and response builds from week to week.
This session briefly explores the topic of wonder, how in prayer sometimes we just need to say wow.
Start the session relaxing as a group. You could share a meal, go for a walk, or even just have a chat over a cup of tea. Whatever you do, make sure everyone feels at comfortable and at home. When it’s time to start moving towards the session’s content, shift the conversation towards prayer, inviting reflection on prayer over the last week, and ask everyone to share what the most amazing thing they’ve ever seen is.
When everyone has shared, watch Exploring Prayer Part 5: Wonder.
Give a minute for the video to sink in. Then move towards a time of discussion. Set healthy parameters for discussion from the start. The aim of this time is not persuasion but exploration. Allow everyone to share their understanding and experience but try to keep the group from instructing or counselling each other as much as possible.
For the most part, try to let discussion go where it goes. Ask other’s what they think about what is being shared to bring them into the discussion. In doing this, your greatest tool will be simple questions like ‘What do you think about such and such?’ and ‘Has anyone else experienced anything like what so and so has just shared?’ Don’t be afraid of moments of silence – they create the space for people to process.
You may find the following prayer points helpful:
Archbishop Welby gave a few practical ideas for wonder in his video. You may want to try one of them now as a group. I’ll outline his ideas below.
Worship loudly: Pick some hymns or worship songs that the group love. Sing them together with either someone accompanying on a live instrument or by finding them on CD or streaming service. Make sure that everyone feels comfortable enough to abandon themselves in praise and wonder.
Sit with a candle: Turn the lights out and light a candle. Set a timer for a few minutes and spend time simply looking at the flame flickering. Revel in the fact that Jesus is the light of the world. Delight in the fact that however dark our circumstance seems nothing can put His light out. Ask God to overwhelm you again with his love as you spend time in contemplative wonder.
Read scripture: Pick a passage which always inspires wonder in you and read it slowly. Consider reading it more than once. You could even get each member of your group to read it in turn. Encourage everyone to let the wonderful truth of the words inspire and nourish them. Ask God to fan the flames of the group’s wonder for Him as you read. If you are stuck for passages, try Romans 8:28-39, Ephesians 2:4-10, Psalm 19 or Psalm 23.
You’ve now reached the end of this series exploring prayer! If you will be continuing to meet as a small group, you may want to continue keeping each other accountable in prayer. If so, get the diaries out again, block out time to pray and encourage people to keep accountable to pray through the week. If this is the end of the group meeting together, you may still want to encourage each other to pray. Consider sharing email addresses or setting up a WhatsApp group and taking it in turns to send out an email encouraging people to pray each day.
Whatever you do, try to finish by reflecting on what the take-aways have been from this series. Finish with a time for each person to share what they are going to do as a result of all they’ve heard and learnt over the past few weeks.