–by Linda Post Bushkofsky

As this month’s issue makes clear, though prayer has been around as long as people have been on the earth, we have yet to run out of ways to discuss it, practice it and learn about it.

Eight summers ago this magazine published a three-part Bible study on prayer. That year my congregational unit took that opportunity to turn the study into a daylong retreat, and that fall I wrote about the experience in this very column. Since this summer we have a new three-part Bible study on prayer, maybe you and your congregational unit will want to consider a daylong retreat too. What follows is an excerpt of our experience with our previous Bible study on prayer:

“Four women formed the planning team. We had two simple guidelines in mind: Keep the planning simple and involve as many women as possible, especially in leadership roles. Our program goal was to expose the women to as many prayer experiences as possible.

“We tossed about some ideas and hatched a plan. We decided to meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We started the day using the Morning Prayer liturgy in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. We incorporated several of the hymns suggested in the Bible study. Then we moved into sessions one and two.

“Because we had 45 attend our retreat, we broke into three groups of 15 each for ease of discussion. We arranged for three different women to lead each of the sessions, so we had nine Bible study facilitators.

“After lunch we did a prayer walk through our church building, praying for the people who worship and serve there and the many ministries that take place in our building. We started in the narthex and moved into the nave, then the prayer room, the nursery, a Sunday school room, the quilters’ closet, etc. Many found this a particularly moving experience. Everyone participated in reading the prayers, and it was great to walk around after lunch!

“Then it was on to session three. After that we gathered again as a full group for a prayer sampler. We had five women speak for five minutes each about different prayer disciplines. We learned about
the prayer shawl and healing touch ministries in our congregation. A teenager helped us explore dance as a means of prayer. We heard about prayer beads and labyrinths too. We moved into our garden to close with songs and a sending prayer.

“To keep the meals simple, we arranged for a continental breakfast and box lunch from a local restaurant. The restaurant even delivered, freeing us up for other work. To cover the cost of the meals,
we charged each participant $15.

“We met our program goal and worked within our guidelines. As the saying goes, many hands made light work, and all of us—even the planning team—could experience the event as a retreat.”

If it’s too late to pull together a retreat for this summer, don’t despair. You could plan a retreat for February, for example, to break up the monotony of winter using this summer’s three-part study. Or maybe you’d like to create a Lenten retreat instead.

Exercise your creativity then let me know how you used this summer’s three-part study. And don’t forget to let us know how it goes! Tell us about your experiences at [email protected].