The Leader of Prayer: Five Skills for Lay Presiders

This is the fourth article in a series about leading prayer. Have you ever noticed that some priests are really good at presiding over the Mass? When they get everything right, it simply feels good. When done well, the priest “disappears” and he presents himself in persona Christi: acting in the person of Christ, he unites the offerings and prayers of the people to Christ. A good presider is confident, clear, and “leans in” to […]

Make Your Group Prayer Meaningful

This is the third article in a series about leading prayer. In the previous two installments of this series, I wrote about setting the environment for prayer and best practices for structuring public prayer. But how do you choose the content of prayer so that it is meaningful for participants? Every group has different needs. When prayer is “one size fits all” it can be hard for people to feel it has a meaningful connection […]

First Experiences with Two Forms of Prayer

One of my favorite parts of teaching religious education is introducing young people to various forms of prayer. In addition to starting sessions with three traditional prayers—the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be to the Father—I’ve led them in lectio divina and guided reflection. When I mentioned to another catechist that I was doing lectio divina with seventh graders, she questioned how that worked, unsure that the technique was one young people […]

Best Practices for Leading Group Prayer

This is the second article in a series about leading prayer. Whenever Catholics pray before group activities—whether a staff, catechist, or parent meeting or a gathering of the parish youth group—we offer all our efforts to the Father. We acknowledge that when we are gathered, Jesus is present with us. We invoke the Holy Spirit to guide us. Group prayers sanctify the activity, reminding us that the ultimate goal is to glorify God. Yet how […]

Setting the Stage: Creating the Space for Prayer

This is the first article in a series about leading prayer. When Catholics pray, we are often surrounded by reminders of who we are. At Mass, we can easily identify the current liturgical season or feast from how the sanctuary is decorated, the color of the priest’s vestments, the hymns we sing, and sometimes from the aroma of incense. We are accompanied in our liturgical prayers by statues of the saints, Scripture stories in stained […]

Creating Worship Kits for Parish Groups

Many parish organizations have supply cabinets in which they stash their paper plates, napkins, coffee cups, pens, pencils, paper, and so on, so that when they meet, they can swing into action. I suggest that every parish organization have access to another important resource for their supply cabinet: a “worship kit.” Every time a group or organization gathers in the parish, someone should be responsible for setting up a prayer space and leading the group in […]

Tips for Leading a Simple Prayer

Often, I find myself at a gathering of Catholics (usually catechists and/or catechetical leaders) in which someone has been asked to prepare and lead an opening prayer. All too often, however, the prayer experience proceeds in the following manner: The leader stands up and says something like, “OK, so, I thought I would share this nice poem I just came across recently and it meant a lot to me.” The leader reads the poem. The leader […]

Leading Spontaneous Prayer, Part 3: You, Who, DO, Through

During our recent Webinar – Leading Prayer as a Catechist – we explored a formula to help us lead spontaneous prayer: remembering the words YOU, WHO, DO, THROUGH. Liturgical/Eucharistic prayer includes these 4 elements: YOU (we address God and praise him using divine titles), WHO (we describe the great things that God has done), DO (we pray for God to do something for us now), THROUGH (we pray to the Father, through his Son, Jesus, with the […]

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