The revised and expanded version of
"Directed Retreat Goes to Parish"
-- the manual about the use of the directed retreat
in the local church or parish setting.
John Veltri, sj

Week Of Directed Prayer In A Church Setting is about doing a directed retreat in the local church setting. This manual contains things that you might like to copy and use for others. Go ahead! I tried to format it in such a way that you could photocopy some of the things without too much cutting and pasting. I composed the manual in 1984 and revised some of the materials in 1997.
John Veltri
Community Residence of Ignatius College
Box 1238
Guelph, Ontario


1-2    What Is The Week Of Directed Prayer? A short overview and the basic description of its structure.

3-14    Further Information about the program, interesting adaptations, and feedback. Page 14 gives a description of a very creative adaptation -- `Shoestring Retreats'.

15     Team Meeting Of Prayer Guides: A format that can be used each day of the Week.

16-17    Prayer Pattern For The Week Of Directed Prayer. Beginning prayer guides may feel more comfortable working with a prayer pattern that has been developed in advance. This is a fairly good one and it can be given to the directees after the Week.

18-19    Format For Opening Session. This is one way of doing the opening session of the Week. It works well. The description of the Collatio or shared prayer during this session is found on the following pages.

20-21    COLLATIO -- it is not as complicated as it looks.

22-23    Format For Closing Session at the end of the Week.


These materials can be used for handouts for the various aspects of the Week.

24    Awareness Exercise For The End Of The Week of Directed Prayer -- good for the last session as an instrument of reflecting on the experience of the Week.

25    Walking Down Memory Lane -- a more simplified way of doing the above.

26    Some Tips For Prayer -- can be given out by the prayer guide if the need arises; or could be given to the directees during the opening session.

27    Pondering The Scriptures With Your Heart -- Having A Dialogue With God -- Bodily Postures -- instructions that may or may not be helpful during the Week.

28    Daily Awareness Exercise -- a practical instrument that could be given out at the last session during the presentation on this topic.


This section gives some examples of various organizational items for the Week.
29     Application Form -- an example.

30        Sample of An Acceptance Letter; sample of A Letter Of Regret, if you receive too many applications.

31-34    Examples of Announcements for church bulletins, etc. ... Use your own creativity!


This section contains ideas for alternate ways of doing the opening session.

35-36      Praying-Over-Your-Own-Experience Approach
                                                                        -- an opening session for Cycle B.

37-38      Gospel-Contemplation Approach -- an opening session for Cycle C.

39-41      Blessed-History Approach            -- an opening session for Cycle D.

42            Handout: Finding God In The Events Of Your Own Life.

43            Handout: Gospel Contemplation.

44ff           Endnotes.

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 The Week of Directed Prayer is a way of making a directed retreat in the midst of daily living. It is such a simple structure that it can easily be used in a parish, school, university, or business office. And it works! This format is based on making only a half-hour prayer period on scripture each day and receiving spiritual direction for a half hour each day. Participants make their prayer exercise at home and come to their parish church or other setting each day for prayer direction for 30 to 45 minutes, Monday through Friday. On the beginning Sunday and closing Saturday, there is a group session.

The structure of the Week of Directed Prayer is very simple -- so let's start with that. Imagine a parish setting. You have a team of seven prayer guides. There are 35 persons who have signed up for this experience. On the team of prayer guides are both lay persons and professional people in ministry. The participants range widely in expectation and desire. But they have all come because they desire to deepen their prayer life or to learn to pray with scripture. Everything has been pre-organized. The hall is set up, the direction rooms or places have been assigned, and the prayer guides have a list of their directees. Both directees and prayer guides know, more or less, when the session of private prayer guidance will be held. So we begin:

OPENING SESSION -- Sunday, 1:30 p.m. -- 4:30 p.m
The goal of this session is to meet one another, to introduce the prayer guides, to get started, to give some tips on prayer, to attend to last minute organization, to SET THE TONE, and to begin to create or to continue the creation of a community of prayer. If this Week of Directed Prayer does not both begin and end with some communal experience, there will be something missing. During this session, the prayer guides meet with their directees to set up and finalize the interview times and places. By the end of this session, all the participants are motivated to make a half-hour spiritual exercise each day, have their scripture text(s), and have a fairly good idea of how to go about it. A possible format for the opening session will be found on pages 18-19.

WEEKDAY INTERVIEWS -- Monday through Friday
Each participant comes back to the parish to a designated room or place to receive prayer direction for 30 to 45 minutes each day, Monday through Friday. The prayer material is based on scripture, according to either a suggested prayer pattern as on pages 16-17 or some other prayer pattern that might be helpful. As one discovers in any directed retreat, prayer direction also involves the experience of life which surfaces in or is related to the prayer.

On each of these weekdays, the team of prayer guides meets for an hour for a team meeting. An example of a workable format is on page 15. It might be helpful to have a meal together in addition to this meeting.

CLOSING SESSION -- Saturday, 1:30 p.m. -- 4:30 p.m.
The goal of this session is to round off the experience of the Week. Through it, the hope is to:
1.Appropriate the experience of the Week;
2. Give some tips for the future;
3. Help those who may have had somewhat of a disappointing experience;
4. Help establish or continue the development of a community of prayer;
6. Suggest some resources that are available for a life of prayer.

This manual is written from the perspective of a larger-type group using a team of prayer guides. However, this same program can be carried out by one prayer guide in those situations where there may be only a small number of participants. In other words, if you have only a handful of interested participants, it is still a worthwhile experience. 


        The Week of Directed Prayer creates the possibility for participants to experience a directed retreat without leaving their daily life. For some, it is an excellent introduction to scriptural prayer. For others, it is an introduction to the Bible. Many have reported that this experience has taught them to integrate their life and their prayer.

        It is amazing how this simple structure can dispose persons for almost the same depth experience as that of a five-day silent/closed retreat. The reason is this: the half hour of prayer each day focuses all the events of the day in such a way that the prayer is experienced with the whole day, distractions and all! Many participants look on this Week as a special week and they eliminate unimportant activities. They spontaneously make efforts to live in greater harmony with the prayer experience of their "special week with God."

         For beginning prayer guides, this event is a way of growing in the art of spiritual direction. It is short enough so that, without too much inconvenience, busy persons are able to give their time to the experience of directing others. It is long enough so that training centres for directors are able to give the needed supervision.

         This format may also be a good way to introduce persons to the directed retreat movement. Certainly this format can be one of the instruments used in preparing someone for the Spiritual Exercises according to Annotation 19, otherwise known as the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life. It can also be used for screening persons for this experience.

        The format can also be adapted in many different ways. For example, it could be used for a two-week directed retreat experience with interviews on alternate days and perhaps a group activity in the middle of the two weeks. In one parish, some of the prayer guides visited their directees in their homes. For mothers of young children, the interview time coincided with a children's television program. The aged who could not travel to the parish each day for the interview were also directed at home. Another possibility would be to start with the Week of Directed Prayer and then follow it up with three single days of group work a month apart. Your creative imagination will think of other adaptations for this format!


        Though the actual Week of Directed Prayer is rather simple in structure when it is in operation, initially the organization can be rather complex.

Here is a checklist of the elements which, one way or another,
will have to be attended to before the Week of Directed Prayer takes place:
                 -- prayer;
                 -- discussions about on-going direction;
                 -- eliciting their support for the various elements
                            (they may need to suggest alternate times
                                and topics and ways of doing things);
                  -- parcelling out the various tasks for opening and closing sessions:
                            - fifteen-minute presentations,
                            - song and music leader,
                            - worship service,
                            - over-all facilitator for the sessions.

Make sure that the pastor or minister and his/her pastoral team are involved in the organization and carrying out of this event. If they can participate as prayer guides, all the better; but at least, they should be present at both the first and the last sessions. Otherwise, they will not understand and support what you are doing.

For the opening and closing sessions, it is helpful to decorate the hall or room where they take place. Perhaps this room could be set up as a kind of coffee room for the week, with some displays of books, pictures or handouts which might be useful for persons to browse through if they happen to arrive before their interview time or stay around after it. Maybe this room could also have a prayer corner.

The meetings of prayer guides should be at least one hour. Inevitably some prayer guides will come late or leave a little early because of people they are directing, and so a shorter session will get even shorter as the week progresses. A good time for the meeting of prayer guides is late afternoon with a meal immediately following. This would mean that those prayer guides who can only direct in the afternoon will have the meeting immediately after their interviews; and those who can only direct in the evening will have the meeting to touch base with the other prayer guides before their interviews.

Arrange to have an extra prayer guide available in case one of the prayer guides has to drop out because of unexpected circumstances.


Don't expect this experience to replace a parish renewal experience. This kind of event is important for persons who have experienced renewal and desire to deepen what has already begun. It may also be the beginning of deeper commitment for some others.

Don't organize the different aspects of the event independently of the team of prayer guides. It is important that the members of the team have processed all the aspects of the event and feel somewhat comfortable with it.

With a team of beginning prayer guides, it is important not to rotate the chairperson at the team meetings; otherwise, the goals of the daily sharing of the prayer guides may get shifted and the different aspects of the team meetings will get short-changed.

Don't mix the final evaluation among the prayer guides with the closing session of the Week of Directed Prayer. The evaluation may come at a later date.

If you are working with a group of beginning prayer guides and desire that this event be a learning experience, it is important not to expect too much learning and theorizing during the actual event itself. Learning sessions can come both before and after the Week of Directed Prayer. Throughout the Week, the experience of prayer and of affective support for each other is far more important during the daily team meetings. Without this relaxed atmosphere of support and jovial interchange, learning can never take place.

Don't expect this experience to be a "WOW" experience by the end of the program. It should not be compared to programs such as Cursillo. As mentioned above, it is primarily for persons who have already experienced renewal and desire to deepen their personal relationship with God.


It really began when I was helping out with a workshop in Victoria. The workshop was part of a training program for prayer companions in the Diocese of Victoria. One day, Bishop Remi de Roo made the remark, "I'd like to find a way in this diocese to teach lumber jacks how to pray on the job!" That remark stayed with me.

I knew that the program in Victoria later developed in such a way that prayer companions used the directed retreat method at the parish level on weekends. But a weekend of directed prayer, to me at least, was never satisfactory. We had been experimenting in Guelph with a Weekend-In-A-Series, during which the same individual would come for three weekends separated by a month or so. Again this format did not seem practical enough for me.

So all these thoughts and wonderments were floating around in my mind when, in the summer of 1982, I was faced with a practical difficulty. I was responsible for the coming internship program at Loyola House of the Guelph Centre of Spirituality; there were three weeks for which I had to supply some field work for six interns. Thus, the Week of Directed Prayer occurred to me as a practical way of occupying developing interns and achieving that hoped-for goal suggested by Bishop de Roo. Providentially, the first two persons I asked to investigate whether we could sponsor such an event in their parishes paved the way and gave us the required "go aheads."

The first person I asked was Jeannette Hiller, CND, who brought the idea to the pastor of Nativity Parish in Etobicoke, Toronto. Reverend Ted Fournier, the pastor, said, "Fine, let's go ahead," and so we did, beginning the last week of January 1983, when we ran a two-week format for 67 people. We called it a "Prayer-Mission."

The second person I asked was Reverend John Buttars, minister at Harcourt Memorial United Church in Guelph. He brought the idea to the education committee which also agreed to give it a try. So we conducted one in mid-January of 1983 in a one-week format. It was John Buttars who called it a Week of Directed Prayer and so we had a name for it.


What follows is feedback from our first experiment at Nativity Parish. It was written several weeks after the event and published in a Nativity Parish booklet.

From a male participant ...
There is little doubt that I approached the Mission on Prayer with more than a little trepidation. After all, I had honestly no idea what it was about, or what I should expect from it. Now that it's over, I can reflect upon the two-week experience and perhaps share what it meant to me. The first thing that came to me was the realization that prayer plays a much larger role in our lives than most of us realize. We somehow have the feeling that prayer is associated with going to church on Sunday, and for most of us, that's a once-a-week experience. Quite the contrary. Prayer is really our relationship with God, and that's there twenty-four hours a day, every day. The Mission on Prayer helped me develop this relationship in a very quiet, unassuming way. No thunderclaps or peals of lightning, just a very pleasant expansion of the inner peace that comes from the knowledge that God is with us -- always. Working through the Scriptures, I gained a completely new understanding of the Bible. Instead of simply looking at the words of Scripture, the Mission on Prayer helped me to look into the words and to relate the thoughts to my own life."

From a female participant ...
"The Mission on Prayer was a unique experience for me. It was really a directed retreat. For half an hour, three times a week, for two weeks, I was able to meet on a one-to-one basis with my spiritual director. At our first meeting we were able to zero in on what I should be praying for specifically in order to advance in my personal prayer life and relationship with God. I was directed to passages in the Bible that were related directly to my particular needs. These passages were used in the daily half hour of private prayer and during the day when a few precious moments were available for communication with God.

As a result of the Mission and my continuing efforts, I find that my trust and confidence in God's fatherly love for me and my awareness of God's constant presence are occasional extras -- loving gifts to me from a loving Father. I found the Mission to be mentally and physically exhausting -- but worth every minute of it. I recommend it to anyone who is searching for a deeper relationship with God through prayer."

From the Catholic New Times, July 1983,
Directed Retreat Goes To Parish by Sharon Doyle Driedger ...

The last time I had made a retreat was twenty years ago when I was in high school. Like most traditional retreats, it was a time of prayerful silence organized around a series of sermons geared to our age group. Since the Second Vatican Council, however, some retreat centres have offered "new" retreats with individual spiritual direction. Last January, I was one of more than 60 people fortunate enough to participate in the first individually directed retreat ever given in a Catholic parish.

When I first read about this special mission on prayer in the Sunday bulletin, I decided to register for it. It would be good for me, I thought, like a spiritual vitamin pill. Within a few days, I had second thoughts. I am a busy mother of two young children and I rationalized that I didn't have time for the required half hour of daily prayer, plus meetings with a spiritual director every second day for two weeks. Besides, I had no idea what to expect in an interview with a spiritual director. My natural reserve made me wary of the possibility of revealing my private thoughts about God to a stranger.

In spite of my misgivings, I went to the introductory meeting in our parish hall on a rainy Saturday at the end of January. I was one of a cross-section of our community. As I signed in and found a seat, I noticed the mood was expectant with a slightly anxious edge; an attitude that would be replaced by a relaxed openness at the final assembly of the retreat.

That first day, we were briefed on the details of the retreat and introduced to our spiritual directors. Most reassuring to me was the talk on the role of the spiritual director by Peter Oliphant, a management consultant, who is also a trained lay spiritual director. "A relationship with a spiritual director is a confidential one, but it is not a psychological or psychiatric analysis," he said. "The function of direction is to act as a catalyst ... to provide a perspective ... to clarify by feeding back in an objective way."

We learned that passages from Scripture would form the basis of our prayer during the retreat. We were encouraged to "pray the Bible," not merely to read it as an intellectual exercise. It was to become a vehicle of God's message to us. We were to listen with our hearts and to notice our feelings, our emotional responses to God.

We were also asked to take five or ten minutes, immediately after each prayer session to reflect on our prayer: to notice our moods and the images that captured our attention or when we resisted; to watch for emergent patterns, like suffering, gentleness or challenge; to notice distractions and how we handled them. We were instructed to jot down our reflections in a prayer journal; these notes would provide a basis for dialogue with our directors.My director was reassuring and encouraging as I described my responses to praying the Bible, even when I felt unmoved or resistant to certain passages. She answered my questions, helped me sort out inconsistencies, and suggested ways to improve my prayer. Our conversations stretched from events in Christ's life to what was happening in the world around us; our talks were low-key and informal but had positive results.It's difficult to analyze, but this retreat touched me deeply. Prayerful concentration on the Bible, reflection, writing my responses in a journal, and dialoguing with a director provided a stimulating combination.

I grew in self-knowledge and gained glimmers of insight into what it means to have a constant loving relationship with God. Instead of feeling too busy to pray, I looked forward to the time I set aside for it each day. I felt an unexpected sense of peace and joy. More than just a spiritual tonic, this directed retreat was a gift from God.


One year later ...
A year later, Sister Jeannette sent a questionnaire to some of the participants from Nativity Parish asking, "One year later, how do you feel when remembering your retreat of 1983?" Here are a few responses:

Looking Backwards From 1997 ... Some Reflections

By 1997 the feedback over these past ten years is very similar to the kind of feedback we received at the beginning. The Week of Directed Prayer which began at Harcourt Memorial United Church is now being sponsored in Guelph by an ecumenical group of prayer guides, some of whom still come from Harcourt. It continues to be an annual event with leadership assumed by lay prayer guides and a few clergy from a variety of denominations.

From Tarcia Gerwing, M.A.M.S., Guelph, June 17, 1994 ...
I have worked with this program four times in parish situations and four times in ecumenical situations. Each time I have been impressed with what happens in a person'slife within a short week! Most people who come to these Weeks have had very little opportunity to speak of their faith life and are very eager to be heard. They are looking for methods of praying with scripture since they have had very little help with this. I have the feeling that both they and God were eager to meet on a deeper level.

The initial group meeting gives them a strong communal sense which supports their growth and caring for one another. It gives them courage in a new venture which can appear quite threatening to someone who has never articulated what is happening in his/her spiritual life. The `Collatio' is a wonderful, non-threatening way to help people to start sharing. Throughout the Week, retreatants are given help to express their experiences. The closure meeting gives them an opportunity to discuss further needs of the group and to look at ongoing opportunities for growth.

When I first approached this program, I had doubts about discovering the dynamic or movement of the prayer when repetition did not seem to be built into the prayer times. However, it became clear to me that the dynamic happens within the context of daily life. Because of the heightened awareness which they develop from seeking a grace and from the daily consciousness examen, retreatants live more reflectively. I have always found it important to introduce some simple method of reflecting upon their experience each day during this Week. If retreatants are faithful to the process of the Week, a prayer guide can usually recognize a dynamic.

In comparing different settings, I have found that the effectiveness of the program is enhanced in those places where the program retains these aspects:

I also tried this program once with a parish group over the six weeks of Lent. Basically it was the same format, but instead of meeting with the retreatants each day, we met with each one once a week for the six weeks. Again, this was a very positive experience which I will repeat when possible. I found that, in doing the program in this way, it was important to meet with individuals for a short time on the first day to help them to enter into the retreat on a personal level. It was also important in the course of the first week to touch base even by phone to encourage and call them to attentiveness to their feelings and to support the integration of life and prayer. I also found that the meetings, which were on a weekly basis rather than on a daily basis, needed to be a little longer than those we scheduled during the Week of Directed Prayer.

 From Dervilla Byrne, RSM, Dublin, Ireland, June 23, 1994 ...

(Dervilla brought this program to the Dublin setting and
adapted it for the people on the margins -- the poor.)

My main concern when we were putting the Week of Directed Prayer together was that it would be something available to all, especially the poorer people. Therefore, everything about it needed to be simple and non-threatening and, as far as possible, non-churchy. A lot of the people from poorer areas whom I came across felt very alienated from the official church. They were often people who had had bad experiences in school with religious or around the whole area of church law, confessions, etc. with priests. Often, their experience of church somehow left them feeling less as people -- with the idea that they had little or nothing to offer and that they were always in the receiving position. Therefore, it is important for this large needy group that the Week of Directed Prayer be taken away from the church scene. A school or community hall which they consider their own is good.

It is always important to have lay directors among the team, and I found it was good if one of these directors opened the sessions and shared something briefly of his/her own journey and struggle in prayer. We were always conscious that in any group gathered, there was always a possibility that a certain number could not read -- hence the need to be aware and move within a group with great sensitivity.

The first night I met my group, I always told the Gospel Story in my own words using ordinary everyday language. I believe this story-telling is important whether people can read or not. In my work over the years, I discovered that there is a great need to stress the humanity of Jesus -- something people always respond to, but it seems to come to them as a surprise.

The directors need to move around the group and in the midst of the group because if we are trying to get across the humanity of Jesus, we also need to get across the humanity of the directors. Sharing a little of our own personal story and struggle can be a great help. Sometimes, directors, especially people who live and work in retreat houses, can send out messages that there is a certain sort of mystery about themselves and their lives, and while that may be a certain protection for the directors, it is not a help for anyone -- especially people who are trying to come to know more of a God who chose to become one of us.

Equally important to the personal meditation/prayer element in the Week is the community element. Also, I believe true prayer and meditation, with few exceptions -- hermits, for example -- lead to community in some shape or form. We found that it was usually when we got as far as the cup of tea on the opening night that people began to relax. They met and chatted with others about their hopes and desires for the Week and that really strengthened them for the Week. We found that having a tea room each night during the Week was very important. We always invited and encouraged the people to go to that room for a cup of tea or coffee either before or after seeing their directors. Usually before the Week ended, they were going to the tea room both before and after their interviews. As a director, whenever I was free, I also went there for a cup of tea. It was just unbelievable to hear the conversations that went on between people. They were asking each other how the Week was going, how they were finding the prayer or meditation time at home. The level of sharing of the things of the Spirit was unbelievable. Neighbours talked to each other at a level which would have been unheard of before that Week! I must say it was an experience which always brought great joy to my heart.

For the closing session, we always asked the group to be responsible for the (tea) party that night and again it was an opportunity for them to show us what they had to offer and what they could do. Always at that final party on the closing night, the fruits of the Spirit were tangible in the group. You could not believe the transformation from the opening night where people came in fear and trembling. On the closing night, there was always that feeling that they could stand tall and that they, individually and as a community, mattered as people.

I stress all of these experiences because I feel very strongly that the individual experience of prayer is closely tied up with community. There is a need to get away from the God-and-me-only approach. I always stressed with the people:

Directed retreats at retreat houses sometimes have created that God-and-me-only approach. There is this same danger for the people in congregations or parishes.

The closing session, where the people look at where they want to go from there, is of the utmost importance. Again, this is the time when the directors step back and let someone (leader) from the parish or group take over. I have always noticed that from their suggestions two things stood out:

Regarding the interviews with the directees, I cannot stress enough the need to make the directees feel welcome and at home. I have noticed that some directees' hearts were pounding at the first interview. The first night, I just sit back and chat with them as if I had met them on a bus -- asking them about themselves and, where relevant, sharing a little about myself. Usually towards the end of that discussion, I ask them what they would like to get out of the Week. From that opening, tumble all sorts of things about themselves and their lives and their families.

I talk to them a little about how they may (or may not) have prayed and then I tell them that we are going to try another very simple way this Week. I then tell them the Gospel Story in my own words and show them where it is in their Gospels. If they can't read (which they may or may not admit) they still get to hear the story. Many times they have told me they have children or a family member to read it for them at home. I finish the session by doing a little stillness exercise and a simple prayer. I suggest to them that they begin their prayer time at home by doing the little stillness exercise again plus a prayer in their own words asking God to teach them how to pray and for the gift of prayer. People learn by doing so I start my interview with people each day for the rest of the Week with a stillness exercise and a short prayer for two to five minutes -- it is time well spent.

The gift of these programs for so many, especially the poor, is that they have the opportunity to be heard and to be taken seriously. That is an extraordinary gift to offer anyone. One time I asked a woman what she got out of the Week. "Well," she said, "I don't know how well I did at the prayer, but if I could matter that much to you that you could take 30 minutes each day just to listen to me, then I must matter a lot to God." I was very insistent that the participants spend the full time for the prayer exercise at home. Also, I made sure that I met with the person each day.

Another thing we tried to do was to set up a prayer room in the school (or in whatever building we were using for the Week of Directed Prayer). It was very simple and we always asked local women to set it up for us. Sometimes we had the Blessed Sacrament exposed there during the evening while the interviews were in progress. Some women found it impossible to find a quiet corner at home, so they would go to the prayer room for 30 minutes before or after their interview. While we strongly encouraged them to pray at home, we felt that kind of presence in the building during the Week added something very special to the experience. Often when I was leaving at night at 9:00 p.m., I would drop into that room and find, in the darkness, people, here and there around in corners in the room, lost in meditative silence and prayer.

We always tried to encourage the clergy and religious of the parish or local area to make the Week with their people. Their participation was good for the people and good for the clergy and religious. I remember going into the tea room one evening and hearing a woman ask the pastor, as he walked in for a cup of tea, how he was getting on with his prayer/meditation that week and what had the prayer guide suggested to him that evening. For me, this is an experience of the early Christian community in Acts: "They remained faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, to the brotherhood and sisterhood, to the breaking of the bread and to prayers."

My experience with the Week of Directed Prayer was that people can feel very lost when it is over. They have a great desire to continue praying with Scripture but they are at a loss to know how to choose pieces. Usually they desire to come together (not all of them) as a group once every two weeks or once a month, but they need help and advice as to the best way of making that a prayerful and profitable experience. And now as I have been called to some other work, God's plan unfolds.

 From Rev. Bruce Seebach of the United Church of Canada ...

(In January 1997, I asked for information about the way
the Lowville Prayer Center of the United Church
has used the idea of the Week of Directed Prayer.)

Weeks of Guided Prayer under the direction of the Lowville Prayer Center began in 1985 with one congregation and a team of spiritual directors led by John Haley from the Guelph Centre of Spirituality. At that time, the Week was called a Week of `Directed' Prayer and each of the prayer guides was a supervised trainee or an experienced spiritual director. When this idea was adopted by the United Church leadership, the title was changed to the Weeks of `Guided' Prayer, and the trainees were designated as Companions. Since that time, the persons chosen to be Companions are persons who are gifted with the capability of giving attention to the work of the Spirit in the life of a retreatant but not qualified to give the more intense guidance of a spiritual director in a local congregation. These changes allowed both trainees and those more fully trained to minister on these retreats.

And so we developed a training program for gifted persons to fulfil this Companion role. We developed four two-hour sessions for them which focused upon:

The training encouraged lay participation which was rewarding and significant in the growth and witness of this outreach ministry. As a result, the number of congregations requesting a Week of Guided Prayer has increased to thirteen across three Conferences within the United Church.

Significant also has been the creation of `Theme' materials with daily handouts of suggested scriptures so that Companions with less extensive biblical background can be supportive of retreatants. Companion training programs, open to other denominations, currently center at the Retreat House at Five Oaks but may be regionalized to accommodate the needs of clusters of churches in geographical areas.

Here is an overview, taken from our brochure, of how the Week of Guided Prayer is organized in a local church:

A Director and Co-Director, recommended by the Lowville Prayer Centre, oversee the Week and provide support for the Companions. Companions meet daily with the Directors to share in a communal meal, to reflect upon the experience of the Week, and to pray together. The Directors companion the Companions on Tuesday and Thursday to enhance their spiritual journey. The Companions guide the Retreatants in their attention to God during the retreat.

A Planning Committee of about five persons prepares publicity, encourages and receives registrations, and arranges locations for the various meetings. It encourages congregational participation in praying for Retreatants and in maintaining quietness throughout the building during the Week. The Planning Committee establishes a budget for materials, honoraria and advertising. These costs are usually covered by the registration fee of about $20.00 per Retreatant. Retreat materials, including posters, registration forms and daily prayer sheets, are prepared specially for each participating congregation.



 Rev. Hilary Alflatt, an Anglican priest, was pastor of an inner city parish in Sheffield, England. In 1989, he began the Shoestring Retreat, called by that name because it was run "on a shoestring." Since he knew of no one else working in Ignatian spirituality in the city, he could not organize a team from the area to offer the Week of Directed Prayer. Therefore he sought another way of doing it. What follows is his description of the Shoestring Retreat

"The pattern was simple. The retreat lasted from 9 am -- 5 pm, Tuesday to Thursday, but those hours could be adjusted to meet the needs of each retreatant. The retreatants each had a daily meeting with the director and spent the rest of the day in church or walking outside. Beverages and biscuits were available but retreatants brought their own lunch. Eucharist was celebrated each day, and on the final day there was a closing liturgy timed to take place before the first retreatant departed. Silence was maintained. After her/his daily meetings with retreatants, the director was available for those who needed more help in prayer. This proved to be important as many retreatants were new to both retreats and to the patterns of prayer.

"I was fortunate at first in being able to use my own church, a large building which had just been renovated and was quite adaptable for such a retreat.... I have since found, however, that almost any church can be made suitable by the use of icons, pictures, etc., to create prayer places. The only basic requirements are toilets, a place

 to make beverages and private rooms for the interviews. I have now organised many such retreats and have found that, with two directors, up to a dozen retreatants can happily use most churches.

"Like the Week of Directed Prayer, the Shoestring Retreat is valuable for those who cannot afford the time or the money to go to a retreat house and for those to whom the retreat house seems threatening. For some it has been the first step to a longer experience in a retreat house. The Shoestring Retreat is even able to offer many a deeper experience of prayer than the Week of Directed Prayer can. To date I have always worked on the above time basis, but clearly, the pattern of either the number or the length of days can be varied to suit circumstances. Similarly, I have always given open ecumenical retreats but the pattern could be used with a group from within a parish; it could also be offered at the same time as a Week of Directed Prayer. Some who have experienced a Week of Directed Prayer might like to move on to a Shoestring.

"My experience of directing such retreats, as well as the experience of those who have worked with me, has been comparable to directing a three-day retreat in a retreat house but with the added dimension of the ongoing integration of life and prayer." 


Phase 1 Settling-In Time

Phase 2 Round Robin
Everyone is asked to share briefly (a minute or two) how things are going. One person might say something like: "Pretty fair -- I got through my interviews with less trouble than I thought, but there are one or two things that I still feel nervous about." Another person might say: "I have been really amazed at how well the directees are settling in -- I feel fairly comfortable."

Phase 3 Shared Prayer
This might be introduced with a hymn or a reading from scripture.
Step 1 -- Thanksgiving as in the beginning of the awareness exercise: "Let's place ourselves in the presence of the Holy One with an attitude of gratitude."
Step 2 -- Praying for what we need at this time: "Having placed ourselves in God's presence with gratitude, let us ask here for what we might need -- some gift or grace, perhaps, some insight, some light...."

 Phase 4 A More Particular Sharing Of Present Feelings
Here some of the prayer guides will want or need to share what is going on in themselves as they are listening to their directees. Not everyone will have an issue, but we are here to support one another and to help each other in the work of direction. So: "How is it going?"

 Phase 5 Business
Save some time for the nuts and bolts; but if you spend too much time on this at the beginning, you will have very little time for the more important prayer and sharing.


Theme 1 -- Surrounded by God who is always there for us
        It is good to enter into the time of meditative prayer with a spirit of quiet and relaxation. Let the mystery of God be near you, and let yourself be open to God's gift of the Spirit. Choose one of the following readings to help you become aware of God's loving concern:

Psalm 139:1-18  Your mystery surrounds me, and you understand me through and through.
Psalm 23  As a shepherd, you desire to protect me and to be for me a loving host.
Luke 11:1-13  You desire to be even more than a nurturing parent; you desire to give me your Spirit.

Theme 2 -- Dependent and yet in a personal relationship with God
        If some passage of scripture has been meaningful to you from yesterday, stay with it.... Or if some way of relating to God was meaningful to you, remain there.... On the other hand, you may want to consider pondering these questions with God:

        If I were God, I would have arranged things differently! ... Has this thought ever flashed through your mind? Spend some time expressing to God how, IN FACT, you feel about this.... Then spend some time quietly listening to God expressing how God feels about you.

        When you are ready, you may want to choose one the following scripture texts to help you listen to God:

Psalm 8  Before you, I am filled with wonder. I am baffled by my very existence.
Is 43:1-7  Through every experience of life, you have been with me.
Jn 20:11-18  God is like Jesus, who is stands behind Mary weeping before the empty tomb. Like Jesus, God calls me by name.

Theme 3 -- Letting God continually share and heal our brokenness
        Sometimes we cannot allow our hearts to be more open to the Holy One because we carry hurts that need healing. We cannot understand how our God can love us even when we are not all fixed up. We forget how Jesus said that God was more present to people on the fringe of society and to those who are broken, than to the powerful and healthy. We often cannot forgive ourselves. We forget that forgiveness is both the gateway to God and the climate of life with God. Forgiveness and healing go together. We are sinned against and we sin against others. Jesus comes to unbind us and to save us from ourselves. In what areas of our life, do we need to experience the healing/forgiving touch of Jesus?

Psalm 103  As the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is God's kindness. God heals our ills and frees us from our iniquities.
Luke 15:11-32 Sometimes we are like the prodigal younger son and his self-righteous older brother.
Luke 19:1-10  Jesus loves Zacchaeus even though everyone else scorns him.
John 8:1-11  Jesus takes the side of the woman whom others want to condemn.

Theme 4 -- We are called beyond ourselves
        As Ignatius of Loyola taught us, it is not many ideas and thoughts that fill and satisfy our hearts but the intimate appreciation and enjoyment of God. Therefore if some scripture text or way of relating to God has been meaningful to you thus far, you may be helped by staying with it unless you sense you should move on to another scripture text. If so, you could choose one of the following scripture texts on how God's Spirit calls each of us beyond ourselves: beyond our own righteousness -- beyond our own weaknesses -- with our weaknesses -- in spite of our fears -- beyond our pet ways of looking at things and doing things -- to be more human -- to be more caring -- to surrender our resentments.

Luke 1:39-56  Perhaps I am called like Mary who responds to her cousin Elizabeth's need in the hill country;
2Cor 12:7-10  Or perhaps I am called like Paul to accept myself as I am in order that God's power can operate through my weakness;
Matt 14:13-21  Or perhaps I am called to help distribute food in the wilderness.

Theme 5 -- Though wounded ourselves, we are called to continue our journey and be like Jesus, a healer for others.

John 13:1-15  Jesus gives us the example of washing one another's feet.
Phil 2:1-11  In his letter to the Philippians, Paul uses the image of God divesting God's very self.
2Cor 5:14-21  Because we are a new creation and in Jesus' Spirit, we can exercise a ministry of reconciliation and healing.
John 20:19-29  Whenever we release others from our non-forgiveness by forgiving their sins against us, we make them freer for God.
John 15:1-17  As we do all this, Jesus continues to be the vine since we are the branches.



 20 min 1. Welcome

10 min (+) 2. Opening Prayer 15 min (-) 3. PRESENTATION: Our Attitude During This Week 15 min (-) 4. PRESENTATION: Praying With Scripture 45 min 5. COLLATIO 20 min 6. Break For Refreshment, Pacing, And Interchange

10 min (-) 7. PRESENTATION: The Review Of Prayer

15 min (-) 8. Small-Group Work 20 min 9. Assignment Of Retreatants And Prayer Guides

        Then the prayer guide brings his/her group to the interview room. Introductions. Check on whether everyone is certain of interview time each day. Perhaps some last minute re-arranging may be necessary. Then give everyone the same scriptural material for prayer and a word of encouragement. If helpful, a prayer guide could hand out Some Tips For Prayer, page 26.

Some Observations, Suggestions, And Variations For The Opening Session

        The above format can be expanded or contracted according to the kind of group. The format here works well with groups that are not very free with each other. Remember that beginning a Week of Directed Prayer may be frightening for some people! In some instances, it is possible to have short, private, five-minute interviews during the ninth step. If so, then you will have to create an activity for those who are waiting for the interview.

        In those places where this Week of Directed Prayer has been offered annually, a common complaint about this opening format has been made by people who have returned from former years: "I have heard the opening remarks before!" Consequently, there have been various experiments with changing the content and format of this opening session by:

Another approach is to use a three- or four-year cycle for the annual opening
session. So over a four-year period, people could return and not be faced with the belief that they will be receiving exactly the same thing each year. An example of a four-year cycle:


Set aside about 45 minutes and select a short passage from the gospels, preferably some concrete event filled with activity from Jesus' life.  The setting is often important: dim lights, candles, decorative bible, flowers, etc.  One or more suitable hymns may be sung at the beginning. Once again this depends on the nature of the group.

In the preliminary instructions to the group or in the instructions at this point, the facilitator can make some of the following suggestions: "Your contributions here are shorter rather than longer. They are personal and honest using "I" rather than "we." Be careful not to make this a discussion.... That will kill the prayer experience. Rather peacefully, humbly, and sensitively listen to God's word and share what it said to you personally.... The silent moments are golden and afford rare opportunities for letting God's message resonate and slowly deepen in us.... Relax and savour God's word or someone's contribution during the silences...."
Summary Of The Collatio
   In some settings where the Collatio is frequently used as a method for communal prayer, there will inevitably be variations and applications of the above. For example, anyone may invite the group to sing a suitable hymn at any time before, between, or after the readings. More mature groups might pray spontaneously between the readings. The suggestions in the method described on the previous page and in the summary above are particularly useful and effective with beginning groups.

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. -- 4:30 p.m.

 15 min 1. Welcome

45 min 2. Faith-Sharing Session 20 min 3. Break For Refreshments 15 min 4. PRESENTATION: Prayer And Daily Living 20 min 5. Interchange With The Prayer Guides

        Here some of the prayer guides act as a panel which fields questions from the assembly. One of the panel should act more as a facilitator to keep this interchange happening. Perhaps the panel facilitator asks a few questions him/herself in addition to inviting questions, information or comments from the assembly; for example, "How can the Daily Awareness Exercise foster spiritual growth?" or "What opportunities are there in this community for spiritual growth?" or "How do you keep choosing prayer texts for daily prayer?" (Perhaps someone from the floor or from the panel can begin to address one of these.)

10 min 6. Hand Out Useful Resource Materials

20 min 7. A Communal Worship Service

Some Notes, Observations And Variations About The Closing Session

    This is the basic format and it contains the essential closure elements. For busy persons and for groups that do not know each other well, it works. There may be other situations in which one could:

        The Faith-Sharing Session is very important. With certain groups, such as secondary school students, you might suggest Walking Down Memory Lane (page 25) for a silent period before the small group activity. After this silent period, the participants meet in their small groups and share from some of the drawings they have made in each of the squares.


Some spend time with God reflecting upon the experience of the past several days. Use one of the following approaches if it helps.

 A. Perhaps completing these thoughts may help you reflect upon this experience:

B. What key grace or enlightenment have I received during these days? Perhaps the following phrases will help:  C. In what ways did my appreciation change?  D. Did I experience interior movements during these days? Some examples may help:


In each of the squares below, recall and record what your experience was. Focus on each day. Write or draw a picture that expresses it....










These ideas are meant to be a help.... Use them only if they help.... Please don't try to get them all in.

On Entering Into Prayer

After Your Prayer Is Over On Keeping Yourself In Harmony With The Mood Of This Week

Finally, here are some other ideas that may help you live in harmony with this Week of Directed Prayer:



A very good way of pondering a passage of scripture with your heart is to approach the scripture text as you would a love letter. Read the passage slowly, aloud, or in a whisper.... Let the words wash over you.... Savour each phrase or word.... Re-read the passage lovingly as if you were reading a letter from a dear friend.... Stay with the words or phrases that especially catch your attention.... Absorb them the way the thirsty earth receives the rain....

Allow your heart to be moved; when a thought or feeling resonates deeply, stay with it.... Allow it to penetrate your being.... Express it to God....

Occasionally you might want to ask yourself questions concerning this passage: why? how? when? how might this apply to me now? Let further feelings and thoughts well up in your heart as you ponder to find deeper meaning or understanding or a different way of seeing things.

Respond authentically and spontaneously as in dialogue.

- § -


In every prayer period, it is helpful to have a dialogue with God. Sometimes the word "colloquy" is used as a fancy name for this dialogue. It is a term that describes the intimate conversation between God and me, Jesus and me, and so on. This conversation happens on the occasion of my putting myself as totally as I can into the setting of the prayer; I will find that I speak or listen as God's Spirit moves me -- sometimes as sinner, sometimes as child, at other times as lover or friend, and so on. As with all conversations, the colloquy goes both ways. I say something to Jesus and then I give Jesus time to say something back to me. Sometimes it even may be helpful to imagine Jesus responding as if he were sitting beside me. At times, this little technique really helps establish the two-way flow of conversation. A colloquy takes place at any time during the period of prayer.

  - § -


Formal prayer can be made in almost any bodily position. Certain positions are more helpful for some people than for others, just as certain positions are more helpful at one time in prayer than at another. The important aspect of posture is whether I can be at ease and yet attentive, reverent and yet relaxed. And so kneeling, sitting, standing, lying prostrate are all potential positions for prayer. Once I have adopted a posture for prayer and my prayer is going well, I should not readily change position because again the outward restlessness or shifting of position can jar the inner calm of prayer. Often a certain rhythm of kneeling, sitting, standing, or walking is helpful according to the moods during the time of prayer.



 Settle Into Prayer With An Attitude Of Gratitude

I begin by placing myself in the presence of God, who is father and mother to us and so much more than we can imagine. I try to become aware of God beholding me.... I thank God for accompanying me on my journey whether I recognize God's constant presence or not.

 Ask For What You Seek And Desire

I ask for the guidance of the Spirit to help me get in touch with what has been happening in me and around me today. I ask for the ability to recognize how the Spirit is leading me through these happenings.

 Reflect On Your Experiences Of The Day

1. -- I remember various moments of the day. On what one event or experience do I want to focus? For example, enjoying, or being repulsed by, or being attracted by some person, event or thing?

2. -- a) What did I feel as the incident happened? There may have been a mixture of feelings or a noticeable lack of feelings. Was I aware of my feelings as it happened or did I become aware of them later?

   -- b) How did I respond to these feelings? Suppress them? Laugh? Cry? Take them out on others? etc.

   -- c) What are the aspects of the event that help me understand what went on within me and outside me?

3. -- How is the Spirit of God present for me in this?

Are there any signs of the Spirit that I recognize in that experience? Are there any indications that some parts of the experience were not in harmony with God's Spirit? What does this indicate? For example, my own needs? the needs of others? questions? awareness of fears? awareness of gifts? etc.

Respond To God
I dialogue with God who is with us and loves us profoundly in the midst of this reality. I talk over with God how I am being called now.

 Sometimes you may want to read a passage of scripture to let the Word shed light on your experience.





Have you had any form of guided prayer before? ____ When? Where? What do you remember about it that you found helpful?

     In one-on-one meetings with my guide, I would prefer:

( ) morning ( ) evening

( ) afternoon ( ) anytime

I would prefer a guide who is:

( ) a man ( ) a woman ( ) no preference

Please submit this form and the registration fee of $10.00 to:

Jim Jackson, Rainbow Community Church
100 East Road, Guelph. Ph. --- ----
by Sunday, February l6th, 1996



I am happy to inform you that you have been accepted for the Week of Directed Prayer. Our first meeting will be in _____________________ at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 23rd. At that time you will be given further information about the retreat, and you will meet your director for the first time.

To prepare for the retreat, please be sure you have a Bible and a notebook which you can use as a retreat "diary" or journal. It would also be helpful if you would spend 5-10 minutes in quiet prayer each day during the week before the retreat.

Finally, please set aside the following dates and times for group meetings during the retreat: Sunday, January 23rd, 1:30-4:30 p.m., Introductory Group Session; AND Saturday, January 29th, 1:30-4:30 p.m., Concluding Group Session.

On behalf of the directors, I assure you that we are already praying for you and we look forward to meeting you,


Margaret Smith

Retreat Coordinator




I am sorry to inform you that the limit of fifty people for the Week of Directed Prayer has already been filled and that I will not be able to accept your application. I will place your name on the waiting list in the event that someone might cancel his/her application.

Although this will be a disappointment to you, I hope that you will pray for those making this retreat and for the directors. With such great interest in this program, perhaps we will be able to offer it again in the coming year.

Thank you again for your interest.


Margaret Smith

Retreat Coordinator


First -- In Early November ...

Jesuits will be giving the homilies here at Nativity, November 13 & 14 and December 4 & 5. These will be about PRAYER in our lives and will help us understand and appreciate the program that we will sponsor for you in January and February. A good preparation for LENT! -- for the REST OF OUR LIVES!!

  Second -- In Late November ...

From January 23 - February 5, a team of lay people, sisters, and priests, sponsored by the Guelph Centre of Spirituality, will come to Nativity to direct a two-week retreat for sixty or so interested parishioners. The retreat, which is done at home, will begin with a group meeting on the afternoon of Sunday, January 23, and conclude with a group meeting on the afternoon of February 5. During the two weeks, each person on the retreat will meet for a one-half hour interview, every second day, with his/her retreat director. The interviews will be held at the parish, during the day or in the evening, at your convenience. Your director will discuss prayer with you and will suggest material for you to pray with during the two days until your next interview. The only requirement is your commitment to pray for approximately one-half hour each day of the retreat and to meet with your retreat director. There is no charge to you for the retreat because the parish is covering our expenses. For further information, contact Sister Jeannette Hiller. Application forms will be distributed in the bulletin later this month. We can accommodate the first sixty applicants, so please send in your forms early.

Third -- In Early December ...

If you want to deepen your life of prayer but can't get away for a retreat, sign up for the Parish retreat which will be held at Nativity of Our Lord from January 23rd to February 5th. A team of lay people, sisters, and priests, sponsored by the Guelph Centre of Spirituality, will come to Nativity to help lead a two-week retreat for the first SIXTY or so interested PARISHIONERS who mail in their applications -- early! Application forms available in Parish Office.

During those two weeks, the team of prayer guides will provide private guidance in prayer for interested members of the congregation. This is a retreat you can do at home. Watch the bulletin for further information in the coming weeks.

Then later ...

All registration forms for our MISSION ON PRAYER
should be in to Sister Jeannette Hiller before December 31st.
If you do not have a registration form, they are available
at the parish office. Nativity Parishioners have first
preference and then the Mission will be open to others. 
Please sign up now.


------- Another Example Of An Advance Notice -------
In Mid-November ...

What is your life of prayer like? Or maybe prayer is an unknown quantity? Or maybe you appreciate what prayer life you have but would like it enriched? Harcourt will be experiencing a Week of Directed Prayer. Sponsored by the Christian Education Committee, it will be led by John Buttars and John Veltri, SJ (with few a few others from Loyola House Retreat Centre). The Week begins with a group meeting on Sunday, January 16 at 2:00 p.m. and concludes with a second group meeting on Saturday, January 22 at 2:00 p.m. During the week, each person on the retreat will meet for a personal interview once a day with his or her own director. The interviews will be held at Harcourt (depending on space and numbers involved), during the day or in the evening, and last about thirty minutes. Your director will discuss prayer with you and suggest material for you to pray with during the next twenty-four hours. The only requirement is your commitment to pray twice a day for approximately fifteen (15) minutes each time and to meet with your director. Application forms giving full explanation of this event will be available in December. This Week of Directed Prayer is a totally new venture in Harcourt. Please speak to John Buttars for clarification. Consider taking part. It is a unique opportunity.

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The practice of guiding others through their prayer experience is part of a wider spiritual skill called "spiritual direction." It began in the early Christian Church after the age of martyrdom when the following of Jesus became less clear. (It's easier to know your Christian identity when you are being put to death for it!) As the art and need for this skill grew, certain persons, both lay and clerical, were perceived to have this gift and they became the spiritual guides or friends of others. Little by little, the practice of spiritual guidance decreased as religious experience was being replaced by religious structures, though it continued somewhat in monasteries and religious orders.

With the breakdown of our present societal structures, there is once again a great interest and need for the understanding of interior religious experience through which persons hope to discover their religious spiritual roots. In the last thirty-five years, there has been a rediscovery of this art of spiritual direction and one of its instruments -- prayer guidance.

Prayer guidance is not counselling, although the style of interpersonal dialogue may be similar. Prayer guidance is not psychotherapy, although people receiving prayer guidance or spiritual direction often experience healing. Prayer guidance is not problem-solving or teaching or probing. It is not looking into our deep dark secrets or the skeletons in our closets as it were. Prayer guidance has to do with interior reactions that a person experiences when she/he truly listens to God's word.

Listening is not just the study of God's word. Interior movements take place in one's heart when one is meditating or contemplating the Word. These interior reactions are the indicators of God's personal communication with us. When a person speaks of these interior reactions and when another person listens to them with openness and faith, there is spiritual growth.

Would you get anything our of this week? We don't know! We have prepared a number of comments about prayer. Maybe you can identify with some. If so, this week might be helpful for you.


Here are some comments people make about the need for learning more about praying the scriptures:

  1. -- I have always wanted to learn to meditate, but I thought you had to go to India to learn.
  2. -- I don't pray except in church, but I wish I could.
  3. -- I feel rejected by so many people in society it would be nice to know that God loves me just as I am.
  4. -- My grandmother had a strong faith. I envy her.
  5. -- I want to be real with God and I need help to do that.
  6. -- I would like to be able to pick up the Bible and listen to God's word for me here and now.
  7. -- I need to grow in trust and freedom from my fears.
  8. -- I need to pray over a situation towards which I feel resentment.
  9. -- I need time to reflect on how God is calling me at this time.
  10. -- There has been suffering in my experience and I want to find God in it.
  11. -- I find myself fearful and rigid in my relationships.
  12. -- The world is changing so fast that I think that I would like to get off.
  13. -- I'm looking forward to one-on-one sharing in order to grow closer to God.
  14. -- My work life is one thing and my prayer life is another. I'd like to get the two together.
  15. -- I have a sense of failure which I blame God for, and I really want to bring this into my prayer.
If you can identify with any one of these, then this Week might be helpful for you.

For further information contact:
Rev. Elaine Smith (--- ----) or  Jim Jackson (--- -----).
Jeannette Hiller, CND; Margaret Kane, CSJ; Ruth Cornwell; Rev. John Buttars; Rev. Ted Fournier; Robert Gaudet; Marilyn Von Zuben, CND; Nick Di Cicco (R.I.P.); Harry Somerville (R.I.P.). Without them, the original Weeks of Directed Prayer would never have taken place because they took on the responsibility of adapting the materials and of organizing and supervising the events. Particularly I would like to thank Rev. Jean Mitchell who helped me with the present revision.




Here is an idea for a `B Cycle' Opening Session 
which you could use with participants 
who have made the Week of Directed Prayer before.

Praying-Over-Your-Own-Experience Approach

20 min     1. Welcome

10 min (+) 2. Opening Prayer 5 min (-)    3. PRESENTATION: Our Attitude During This Week 15 min (-) 4. PRESENTATION: Praying Over Your Own Experiences 15 min 5. Explanation Of An Exercise On Praying Over Your Own Experience
Choose only one of the following for this exercise: 20 min 6. Time Of Private Prayer 20 min 7. Break For Refreshment, Pacing, And Interchange 30 min (+) 8. Small-Group Work


Here is an idea for a "C Cycle" Opening Session 
which you could use with participants  who have made the Week of Directed Prayer before.

The Gospel-Contemplation Approach

 20 min 1. Welcome

10 min (+) 2. Opening Prayer 15 min (-) 3. PRESENTATION: Our Attitude During This Week 15 min (-) 4. PRESENTATION: Gospel Contemplation 15 min 5. Introduction Of An Exercise On Gospel Contemplation 20 min 6. Time Of Private Prayer 20 min 7. Break For Refreshment, Pacing, And Interchange 30 min (+) 8. Small-Group Work


Here is an idea for a "D Cycle" Opening Session 
which you could use with participants 
who have made the Week of Directed Prayer before.

The Blessed-History Approach

Note that this 'D Cycle' approach could take a bit over three hours. It could work very well if participants have first made at least two of the earlier cycles. Some ideas from this approach might be useful for Cycle B.

 20 min 1. Welcome

15 min 2. Opening Prayer 60 min 3. PRESENTATION to the large assembly: "Take a piece of paper 8.5" X 11" and fold it in three panels 8.5" long in equal widths. Then open the page and fold it in half lengthwise."
(Open  the sheet and you have six squares as in the diagram below.)


Then, after this is completed, continue with the following instructions:

"Take a few moments and reflect upon your life and quickly draw in each of five squares a diagram (stick men or women -- no artistic talent required) that represents a significant event in your life. Do not draw anything in the last square at the bottom. Try to include at least one positive or happy event."

Then, after this is completed, continue ...

"You have now illustrated five significant events in your life; some perhaps are positive, some traumatic, some negative. Choose one of them, the one that you would be able to talk about in a small group made up of some of the participants here. Put a title under your picture."

Then, after this is completed, continue ...

"Now place a few words indicating your feelings during this one significant event."

Then, after this is completed, continue ...

"Where was God for you in this event? ... In this square, draw a picture, image or symbol that illustrates where God was as far as your awareness was at that time."

Then, after this is completed, continue ....

"Now move into a small group with your prayer guide. Complete whatever introductions may still be necessary before the exercise continues. Your prayer guide will continue this exercise with you until you come back to this large assembly."

15 min 4. Small-Group Sharing

Complete the introductions and then prayer guide continues with the exercise which, at this point, is a reflection -- first in private, and then shared. Prayer guide asks each directee to reflect on the drawing that he/she has made and then to jot down a few words or phrases in response to the following questions:

a) -- As far as you can recall, how was God present (or absent) in this event for you?

b) -- As you think back to this event today, how do you understand how God was present (or absent) for you?

After this reflection is over, the prayer guide invites the directees to share with each other the significant event and tell why it was significant. If time permits, the prayer guide encourages them to share on a deeper level: "How has the way you see or feel about God shifted over the years?"

20 min (-) 5. Refreshment Break

10 min     6. PRESENTATION: How To Meditate Prayerfully Over Your Own History

Bring the group back and give a brief teaching on how to pray over one's own history as explained in Endnote 15 and in the handout on page 42.

12 min 7. Time Of Private Prayer

Then send directees to meditate prayerfully over the event they have shared.

15 min 8. Small Groups

Then after a period of twelve minutes of silence, invite them back into the small group to share what happened in them as they prayed over this event.

20 min 9. Ritual Closure (in large assembly or in each small group)

Use a ritual-type closure to symbolize how participants will be bringing their lives to God and how everyone will be praying for each other during this Week.

20 min 10. Last Minute Organizational Items

Then the prayer guide brings his/her group to the interview room. Check on whether each directee is certain of interview time each day. Perhaps some last minute re-arranging may be necessary. Also, if needed, the prayer guide could give a few ideas about what goes on during the daily interviews and could make some remarks about confidentiality, etc. Then give everyone the material for prayer and a word of encouragement. If helpful, a prayer guide could hand out Some Tips For Prayer, page 26, or something more relevant.
Please note that during the Week of Directed Prayer, the prayer guide could encourage some directees to use this approach throughout the whole Week of Directed Prayer. Each day the directee could complete one of the squares and prayerfully meditate over it 
according to the above method. 


 In this method, we allow Jesus to enter into some remembered past event of our own life. Our experience unites with the experience of Jesus and in this process we are led to greater self-acceptance, healing, and gratitude.

Here is a way you can approach this method of prayer:

A. Decide on the one event on which you would like to focus.

B. Settle into a prayerful mode.

C. Remember the details of the experience you had at the time.

... WATCH ... LISTEN ... FEEL ...

D. Now relive it through your imagination.

How was Jesus present (or absent) to you during this event?
What were your feelings then about this?

1) -- If this event was a happy experience for you, simply express these feelings to God or to Jesus:

2) -- If this event was an unhappy one where you need healing, after STEP C above, imagine Jesus entering the event: E.After you have completed this exercise, reflect upon what happened in your heart.


 In this method, we enter a gospel story about Jesus by using our powers of imagining. The concrete details of the gospel story serve as a guide to our imagination.

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