Spiritual Questing is a small group program for serious searchers who may or may not identify as religious but have a longing for the spiritual search and for safe community. I offered this program weekly for five years to people in the AIDS-affected community. I have written about this in my book Summoned
and Shaped. At the back of that book are detailed directions for starting and facilitating a Spiritual Questing group. In this space I plan to offer passages and reflection questions which can be used in a six to eight week series. The series presented here explores prayer.
Spiritual Questing Series on
Reflection Question: What are your spiritual goals for this series of Spiritual Questing?
Passage: "Without a transcendent source and purpose, life goes awry. Boredom, disappointment, and disillusionment with the self and with the world produce...pain which can have within it a secret promise of healing. When we listen deeply enough, we will hear the voice of God inviting us back."
Reflection Question: What is an image or understanding of God that you grew up with?
Passage: "Prayer invites God to let His presence suffuse our spirits, to let His will prevail in our lives. Prayer cannot bring water to parched fields, or mend a broken bridge, or rebuild a ruined city; but prayer can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart, and rebuild a weakened will."
Gates of Prayer, A New Union Prayer Book,
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Reflection Question: What images or perceptions of God are most prominent for you now?
Passage: "Prayer is the awakening in us of our deepest reality, of the point of our being where--somewhere unknown, unseen, unfelt--we are in touch with God; or rather where we are touched every moment by the creative activity of God."
Andre Louf, Teach Us To Pray
Reflection Question: Is prayer common or uncommon in your daily life? If it is uncommon, what questions about God or yourself or life keep you from an activity you call prayer? If it is common in your daily life, what form(s) does it take?
Passage: "Prayer...is listening to that voice--to the one who calls you the beloved. It is to constantly go back to the truth of who we are and claim it for ourselves. I'm not what I do. I'm not what people say about me. I'm not what I have...[M]y spiritual identity is not rooted in the world--the things the world gives me. My life is rooted in my spiritual identity. Whatever we do--we have to go back regularly to that place of core identity."
"A Conversation on Prayer with Henri Nouwen", an interview
Reflection Question: There are many ways to pray. This week think of all the ways you have been taught or have discovered for praying in private and with others. Please make a list of them.
Passage: "Then the way we often pray came into my mind and how, through lack of knowing and understanding of the ways of love, we pester [God] with petitions...The best prayer is to rest in the goodness of God knowing that that goodness can reach right down to our lowest depths of need."
Daily Readings with Julian of Norwich, p.19
Reflection Question: How is God coming to you each day in events, people, experiences? Please carry an awareness of this question each day of the coming week.
Passage: "Sit down and tell God that you would like to spend in God's presence whatever time you have decided to give to your prayer. Make yourself comfortable as you can, then do what you have chosen to do knowing that you are doing it in God's presence. At the end of your time, say [thanks] to God, get up, and go about your business...Is this prayer?...Prayer is not just talking to God any more than friendship and marriage are just conversation. Prayer is sharing ordinary life, with its ordinary silences, distractions, pains, and pleasures, with God."
In Ordinary Time by Roberta Bondi
Reflection Question: What of value has this series of Questing held for you about yourself, about prayer, about spiritual life--yours or that of others? Is there an intention that you take with you from this series?
Passage: "People who pray...want to find the parts of themselves they would rather not acknowledge and bring them to God for love and healing. They want to learn how to be the loving, interiorly thriving people God created them to be... Mostly, they are...persistent people who know that every close personal relationship of love, including ours with God, involves a lot of risk taking, a lot of being in the dark, and a lot of persistence through times of boredom."