If you are interested in forming a prayer group I first want to say thank you for your openness to this call. Prayer groups help to build a sense of community and enable us to have prayer partners in times of joy and sorrow. We are one body and we all need one another to help build up the body of Christ. As Jesus said, “wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, there I am in your midst.” So, let us encourage one another to prayer and bring prayer back into our own lives, the life of our family and our community.
In Our Lady’s monthly message of September 25, 2000 she said the following regarding prayer groups:
“Dear children! Today I call you to open yourselves to prayer. May prayer become joy for you. Renew prayer in your families and form prayer groups. In this way, you will experience joy in prayer and togetherness. All those who pray and are members of prayer groups are open to God’s will in their hearts and joyfully witness God’s love. I am with you, I carry all of you in my heart and I bless you with my motherly blessing. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
In my home parish we have had a Medjugorje Prayer Group for the past year and a half and it has truly been a great blessing to all of us. It is my prayer that the following advice will help you in forming your own prayer group.
How to Form a Prayer Group
- First and foremost I invite you to pray to discern what type of prayer group you are being called to form.
- Meet with your pastor to get his input and support if you plan on holding it in your parish rather than your home.
- Put a notice in the parish bulletin of your intent to begin a prayer group
- Make sure you tell people when you plan on starting
- Put your name and contact number in the bulletin
- Let them know where they can sign up
- If possible, put a notice and sign up sheet on a bulletin board or table
- Have people list their name, phone numbers and email, if available
- You may want to consider offering two days as options to meet so you find a time that is best for all those interested
- Let people know how often you will meet; I suggest weekly, if possible
- Make your announcement in the bulletin about a month or two in advance
- You may want to consider advertising in your archdiocesan bulletin as well
- Use word of mouth by telling all your friends in your parish and have them invite their family and friends
- Once you have the names of all those interested call them and invite them to your first meeting
Running the Prayer Group
You now have your prayer group formed and now it is time for your first meeting. Well, if you are like me, you may be a little nervous your first time as I had never led a prayer group before. Now, I was fortunate in that I formed it with another person, Bill Kapp, so we were able to help each other the first few meetings and continue to do so to this day. Our group runs very smoothly now and I would like to give you some helpful tips so your prayer group is a success.
- Prior to your first meeting I encourage you to talk to your pastor and/or parochial vicar to get his/their input
- Get information off the internet. When we formed our prayer group I went on-line to www.medjugorje.org and looked at how Ivan structured his prayer group. This was very helpful.
- However you decide to structure your meetings you want to make sure it always runs for the same approximate amount of time. I recommend an hour to an hour and a half and no longer. You can always stay longer at the end of your meeting with those that want to stay and talk more. Many of those in your group will have family and children at home so you must be sensitive to this and make sure the meeting ends at a designated time.
- Make a prayer group booklet. The booklet should include the following:
- An outline on how the meetings are to run (i.e. Opening prayer, songs, readings, etc.)
- Various songs you feel are appropriate for your type of prayer group
- Prayers (i.e. Prayer to the Holy Spirit, Magnificat, etc.)
- Any other information you feel is appropriate (i.e. Overview of Medjugorje, Fatima, Divine Mercy information, etc.)
- Have someone new lead each week. This creates a sense of unity and involvement by all the members. We pass a piece of paper around each month to have people sign up for the following month’s meetings.
- Make sure at the first meeting to get a list of everyone’s names, phone and email, if you do not already have them. If it is okay with the group give a copy to everyone in the group. This comes in handy when someone cannot lead when they were scheduled to.
- Whoever is supposed to lead the next meeting, make sure someone is designated to give them a call during the week as a reminder.
- Pick a topic to focus on each month and acquire materials pertaining to that subject each week which the prayer group members can read (i.e. prayer, fasting, confession, etc.)
- Try and have priest come to your first meeting or two. This helps guide the group and shows parish support of your prayer group.
- Acquire a spiritual director for your group, if possible. If you cannot, try and have a priest visit periodically.
- If you ever have concerns regarding the direction your prayer group is going or have an issue you are not sure how to handle, please consult your parish priest for advice and guidance.
- If you form a Medjugorje prayer group, I strongly encourage you NOT to discuss the secrets and stay focused on Our Lady’s messages of prayer, peace, hope, reconciliation and conversion. Getting focused on the secrets can have an adverse affect. Keep your group focused on prayer, hope and conversion.
- As the leader it is important to take this role in not letting the group get off track of what your prayer group’s focus is. If you find it getting off track during a meeting, gently redirect it and continue on in your meeting.
- If anyone in your group has any personal issue(s) with another person, this should always be handled on a personal level and never discussed with another member of the group.
The following is how our prayer group is structured and it may be a helpful guide to you.
- At your first meeting make sure you have everybody go around and introduce themselves. It is very important that you as the leader make everyone feel welcome with a warm greeting when they arrive.
- After your first meeting always introduce any newcomers and get all their contact information after the meeting.
- We begin each meeting with a song of the leader’s choice.
- Next we say a prayer to the Holy Spirit. Always remember to invoke the Holy Spirit to always be the leader of your prayer group.
- Say a prayer of invitation to Jesus and Mary to be with you at the meeting as well.
- Prior to praying the Rosary we make prayer intentions and all those in the group are invited to make their own personal intentions.
- We now begin our prayer of the Rosary. We follow the St. Louis De Montfort version which can be found under “Common Prayers”.
- A different person leads each mystery of the Rosary.
- After the Rosary, we have someone read the Gospel reading for the day.
- We then have a discussion of the reading. If you have a priest present, it is best to give them the option to speak first.
- Since our group is a Medjugorje prayer group, we then read Our Lady’s monthly message and discuss it. Our whole intent here is to encourage one another to live Our Lady’s messages and support each other in our efforts to do so.
- After this we go over any announcements. In your first few meetings it is good to discuss people’s conversion stories and/or people’s trips to Medjugorje, Fatima or any other pilgrimage destination that relates to the prayer group. In the beginning we showed some videos about Medjugorje because many people had not been there before.
- We close with a prayer and a song.
Our Lady said, “I am beautiful, because I love“. All that we do and say must always be done in love and humility. If you strive to follow these two virtues your prayer group will be a great blessing to all those involved. May God bless you in your efforts to serve Jesus and Our Lady.