Prayer ministry at St John's college 'Come Holy Spirit'

Our new Dean of college, Nick Ladd, spoke really encouragingly about prayer ministry this morning and what it entails. It all just felt so right. Sometimes we can be too full of words and this is a lesson I had to learn. When I first involved myself in prayer ministry, I do not think I was in a complete place of trust and surrender. It was almost as if I needed to be clever. It was all an effort. I felt self-conscious, as if it was all somehow my responsibility, as if I needed to say clever things, really know the person. Oh boy, I must have been so hopeless and the people whom I ministered to showed me such grace. When I discovered that it is God who works and not me, it was just the hugest relief and I came to understand why Paul explains to the churches that when he ministers to them he delights to do so because he receives too.
Nick Ladd explained that we are all waiting on God, there is no pray-er and pray-ee.

When we prayed together yesterday and today as a college, we left long periods of silence after we had asked the Holy Spirit to come. I think this was the first time in three weeks that our prayers were not packed full of petitions and words and even sometimes theology (which always makes me wonder whether we are trying to explain to God who we think he is, which always strikes me as a little bit of a peculiar thing to do.) I met with God through the power of his Spirit today because we were able to wait on the Lord.

...And so I am particularly encouraged that we have such a prayerful man as our Dean, that this culture of waiting on the Lord and expecting his Holy Spirit to be truly manifest amongst us, in the name of Jesus, is something that we expect to see happen.

Prayer ministry occurs at college informally, in worship and privately, as part of the normal provision of a chapel service and by appointment with a tutor or two students.

If we are involved in prayer ministry, we are to ask if there is a particular need for prayer and also ensure people are happy with the laying on of hands (restricted to head, shoulders and upper back). We then invite the Holy Spirit to come and bless them.

Why do we ask God to come when he is here already. In Isaiah 42, he gives the Spirit to those who walk creation.We have the Spirit living within us already. In Psalm 140 - without the ruach everything dies and when God sends forth his ruach there is life. If God is omnipresent why do we call on him to come in the power of the Spirit?

When we call on God, we call for the manifest presence of God. The Bible is full of encounters of God. He is always coming in fresh ways.

'Come Holy Spirit' is not new. We sing hymns which invoke the Holy Spirit. 
'Come down, oh love divine'
'Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire'

Sunday by Sunday we invoke the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist.

When we ask the Holy Spirit to come, we signal to God that we are ready for him to minister to us. If we want to be trinitarian we might ask for the Spirit to be poured out in Jesus' name. We invoke the one whom Jesus sent and this is right. We invoke the Spirit to come and in 1 Cor 12, it is his will regarding what he brings.

How do we practise this theology?

Think about posture. Do you pray better standing up or sitting down?
We are a unity of body, mind and spirit.
You can tell a lot about attentiveness by posture. Invite people to have an open posture.
The touch is like a sacrament of God's presence but be aware that some poeple will not want to be touched. Ensure people are happy with the laying on of hands (restricted to head, shoulders and upper back).

Ask if there is a particular need for prayer.

Invite the Holy Spirit to come and bless them 'Come Holy Spirit'.

Pray quietly in tongues but not obtrusively.
Wait, do not fill the space with words.
The person needs time to relax into God's presence.
Watch the person. If there are tears do not jump in straight away. Have some tissues available. If there is real distress, pause. Call on support if you need it.
There is a place for words but do not see it as one-sided. We are coming together into the presence of God. Ask God whether this is the right time to speak and share. Ask open-ended questions. Pray on. Always pray to bless, for wholeness and healing but also for the specific need.
If the person wants to stop, you stop.

If there are people who fall down, make sure they are not too uncomfortable.

I had discussed with a friend whether St John's would think to have catchers, it would seem that they do think along these lines and expect God to minister to people in this way.

We can underpin it all with words from 1 John 4:12 

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is what it is all about. It isn't about our result. We do not know what God is doing but we trust he is working.

We had time to minister to one another afterwards in this expectant atmosphere and it was wonderful to see God at work amongst us so manifest in the power of his Spirit.

I have had just the most fab day!


Curate Karen said...

Sounds great, Rachel! Thanks for this - it's helpful for me to read because I've not got a lot of experience with prayer ministry yet, believe it or not, but the opportunities are increasing all the time now.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Prayer ministry is such exciting work - you get to see God at work right there and then in people's lives.

You will be hugely blessed by it - you'll have to share how it looks where you are so we all learn from one another.


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