Two books on my shelf are particularly well used. One is Preparing and Leading Prayer for Group Meetings by Donal Harrington and Julie Kavanagh and though published in 1998 is readily available for $30. The other is Act, Love, Walk: Praying in the Josephite Spirit by Ann Gilroy, Colleen O’Sullivan, Anne-Marie Gallagher and Judith Sippel who are Josephite Sisters. Act, Love, Walk: Praying in the Josephite Spirit was published in 2004 and I picked up my copy for $20 at Mary MacKillop Place.
Both present ready to use, rich experiences of prayer. Both highlight that the experience of prayer is much more that reading words together. They each have a structure to guide the leader and participants into an experience of prayer by indicating a stage for focusing or gathering, a time for quiet, a time for shared prayer.
Preparing and Leading Prayer for Group Meetings offers over 100 prayer services for groups to use in gatherings. In addition to prayers, each prayer service presents words of the Scriptures and a reflection. The book's introductory chapters offer ideas for preparing and leading prayer services. The easily adapted prayer services cover a wide variety of themes, including liturgical seasons, feasts, and the seasons of nature. Indexes of themes and scriptural passages make finding the right prayer service a simple task.
Act, Love, Walk: Praying in the Josephite Spirit presents 84 prayer services which have a particular rhythm of Gathering, Context, Listening, Breaking Open, Responding and Blessing. The book is beautifully designed and each prayer incorporates art. The prayers are arranged in four sections:
- Journeying through the Year– The prayers in this section can be prayed on particular feast days that are important in Josephite spirituality or in the liturgical seasons of the year.
The next three sections are headed by the three reminders of what God asks of us proclaimed by the Prophet Micah. “This is what the Living God asks of you: Only this, to act justly to love tenderly to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
- Act Justly– The prayers in this section focus on aspects of justice including our involvement in making a fairer world for all.
- Love Tenderly– The prayers in this section focus on relating with love and faithful kindness.
- Walk Humbly– The prayers in this section invite us to focus on being true in our relationships with God and all life.
If I could choose only one of these, I’d choose the Josephite book as it includes prayers pertinent to Australia such as Anzac Day, Feast of Mary MacKillop, and it is a truly beautifully presented book. The presentation is itself an invitation to prayer.