Holiness in our midst – Session 1


As we seek to share our personal stories and journeys, I begin with an intentional focus on the topic of prayer. Learning how others pray and appropriating their practices into our prayer lives can uncover new possibilities for drawing closer to our Lord and set the stage for deeper sharing of our life story/stories. Do our prayers presume that God is in a distant galaxy or closer than breathing? When my pastor Mary Jane Button-Harrison asked “What is your favorite prayer?” in a “story circle” setting (where each person who cares to answers a specific story-rich question), I realized that I draw from prayers specific to the problem at hand or situation I am in. How do you come before God?

My prayers:

  • I have always presumed that a Higher Power hears all prayers and that each request is answered with “yes,” “no,” or “wait awhile.”
  • My daily prayers for the past 15 years: What is troubling you today, Jesus? How would you have me trouble myself on your behalf today?
  • My other all-purpose daily prayer for the past 30 years: Lead me to the people I need and the people who need me to complete your Earthly will. Amen. (I heard Peace Pilgrim during college and she shared this as her daily prayer.)
  • When hardly anything makes sense in my life, I stay centered by repeating the following affirmation by Cardinal Newman, as a solemn prayer:

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me   which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. He has not created me for nothing. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever, wherever I am. I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.

  • My favorite table grace: Father in Heaven, sustain our bodies with this food, our hearts with true friendship, and our souls with Thy truth. Amen.
  • My prayer after near-misses: Thank you, Lord, for what you prevented today. (Credited to Napolean Bonaparte!)
  • My prayer when I have done all that I can toward relationships/projects/events with no clarity or resolution: I affirm the Bible verse, “The Lord is working still…,” as a prayer.
  • When situations/events/projects seem to have a sense of rightness, but the timing is not right: I sometimes pray the Setting Hen prayer. I picture “God” as a big setting hen in the sky. I pretend like the situation is an egg and tuck it under the Big Hen. I just let it all be, leaving it until it “hatches.”
  • After hearing Pastor Mary Jane’s sermon series on God’s Omnipresence, God as the Great I AM,I wrote this prayer for times when parental/societal voices overtake me:

God, Giver of LIFE,

We are thankful that you are not the great “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU, ANYWAY?”

We are thankful that you are not the great “YOU HAD IT COMING!”

We are thankful that you are not the great “YOU SHOULD.”

We are thankful that you are not the great “YOU SHOULD HAVE.”

We are thankful that you are not the great “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE!”

We are thankful that you are not the great “WHY DID YOU?”

We are thankful that you are not the great “WHY DIDN’T YOU?”

We are thankful that you are not the great “IF ONLY…!”

We are thankful that you are not the great “WHAT IF…?”

We are thankful that you are not the great “I TOLD YOU SO!”

We are so grateful that you are the great “I AM.”

We are grateful that you are the great “I AM PRESENT WITH YOU, LOVINGLY, MERCIFULLY, NOW AND FOREVER.”

How, freeing! God, we are so thankful both for who you are what you are not. Thank you for accompanying each of us so personally on this strange and baffling, but majestic and awesome Earthly journey. Amen.

STORY CIRCLE QUESTION: What is your favorite prayer?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION: Read the above prayers before you answer that following journaling questions: Which prayers resonate in my life? What is my favorite prayer? Where, when and how do I pray? What changes do I wish to make, if any, in my prayer life?


  1. Ask: What is your favorite prayer and why?
  2. What are some purposes of prayer?
  3. Read the above prayers aloud. Which resonate with individual group members?
  4. Share examples of answered prayer.