46 Hours of Prayer
The act of insurrection on January 6, which desecrated one of our most treasured institutions, has shaken our country and left many of us apoplectic.
The fear of radicals on the fringe prepared to use violence to threaten democracy and president elect Biden, has raised the necessary question: What can we, the church community, do during times like these?
The answer is obvious. Prayer.
Prayer, when practiced with discipline, sharpens our resolve, hardens our foundation, softens our heart and transforms us into the type of Christian others identify as a servant of God.More importantly, when a significant group joins in prayer, there are outward radiations of the Spirit.
Join me in prayer for peace in our country. I will provide 46 slides of visual and written art, as well as biblical verses, to inspire a participant in a moment of contemplative prayer. Beginning on January 20, Inauguration Day, and ending on Easter Sunday, let us be a community in prayer, so the actions to follow might be in accordance with the Spirit of God.
46 Hours of Prayer - Directions
My house shall be called the united house of prayer for all people.
~ Isaiah 56:7
Welcome to a season of prayer! If you are reading this, you are very likely a person drawn to prayer. You know how important prayer is to the Christian life. Think about the following questions prayerfully. How do you pray, for how long, and for what purpose? What is the usual outcome? For this season, we hope to transform our faith community and nation through prayer. This is an individual activity, which we do alone, but in conjunction with others.
Between January 20 and Easter we will be praying a total of 46 times (see schedule). Many of the prayers will focus on peace in our nation and a peaceful transition in the first season of our 46th president. You might find, however, the inspirational poem or Bible passage to have a personal and individual approach, one that promotes peace in our hearts.
It is the goal of this prayer program to pray for an hour each time. It sounds like a lot, right? The mistake often made is to think a pastor has to be leading the prayer, that it has to be seated, eyes closed, full of liturgical words. This is the prayer we tend to experience in Sunday worship, but at home we can have a different experience, one with movement and other activities that normally do not fall under the stereotype of prayer.
Find an hour in the day, if possible, and dedicate it to prayer. If an hour is not possible, then shoot for 45 or 30 minutes. For some people it will be early in the morning. For others it might vary. This time is for you and God. Make it sacred.
Next, disconnect from distractions. Silence the phone. Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. Disconnect from the body and don’t be in need of anything physical. Take care of your body so that in this time of prayer, your body does not become a distraction. Make sure you are hydrated and that your sugar are levels stable. Don’t be hungry, thirsty or full. Wear comfortable clothing and find a comfortable place to sit.
Prepare your space. You will need your computer, a notebook and pen. If you prefer to disconnect from your computer, then print the material provided for that prayer.
You are now ready to begin.
There are segments to the prayer, each with time allotted. Every segment is important, and none are to be skipped. You can, however, modify the amount of time you spend in each one.
Be mindful of time and your focus in each segment.
Segment 1 – Prayerful Stretching (5 - 10 minutes)
The purpose of the stretch is to help relax the body. You can do this seated or standing. As you stretch, take deep breaths. Stretch your arms up and out. Stretch your back forward and backwards and the other body parts that might feel tight.
As you stretch repeat several affirmations. This will help you to be prayerful during the stretch. If you do not have an affirmation, try the following (or a variation):
I dedicate this body to God.
I dedicate this time to you, Sweet Jesus.
Holy Spirit, flow through this body of mine.
Segment 2 – Prayerful Breathing (2 – 5 minutes)
The purpose of the breathing is to help clear the mind. You can do this in your seat or space you have dedicated for prayer. As you breathe, take deep, slow breaths.
Inhale through your nose to the count of eight. Feel your diaphragm lower and the air filling your lungs. This will cause your belly to expand more than your chest.
Hold the air in your lungs for three seconds.
Exhale through your mouth to the count of twelve. Hear the air passing through your throat.
Segment 3 – Prayerful Contemplation (5 – 10 minutes)
Read or view the material for the prayer. Read it out loud or quietly, slowly and repeatedly. Certain words will stand out and create an impact in you. Say those over and over again. Focus on the verbs and contemplate, “Where is this passage guiding me to?”
If there is artwork, look at the colors, the movement of the brush. Take it in from a distance and from up close. Focus on the images and contemplate, “What is the emotion evoked here?”
Stare at the material for a while. Allow for it to go in and out of focus.
During this contemplation, find a prayerful word or phrase. It might jump out at you, or it might slowly emerge from the time of staring. It will help you later during your time of silence.
Segment 4 – Prayerful Silence (5 – 10 minutes)
Sit in silence with the thoughts and emotions birthed during your time of contemplation. Avoid internal dialogue, all judgment and analysis. This is not a time to think. It might help to close your eyes and focus on your breathing, or you may want to have this time of silence while staring at the material.
It is perfectly acceptable if your mind wanders. If your mind becomes too active, repeat the prayerful word/phrase to yourself until you have calmed it down. Hopefully, at some point your mind will go blank. It is at this stage in the prayer that most people may experience the fullness of the Spirit. We’ll talk about that in our group discussions.
Segment 5 – Prayerful Words (2 minutes)
At this point, you may read the closing prayer provided in the material. Repeat it. You might be moved to say your own prayer, because your heart is full and words have to be said, or not. Don’t force a spoken prayer.
Segment 6 – Prayerful Breathing and Stretching (3 minutes)
Return to the awareness of life through breathing. Take full breaths, once again, like you did at the beginning. Stretch your arms up and out. Rotate your head to stretch your neck.
Segment 7 – Prayerful Reflection (5 - 10 minutes)
Record your experience. The purpose is to look back and see if, over time, there was any movement of the Spirit.
Did any ideas come to you? What did you feel? This does not have to be full paragraphs or an essay. You can write just a series of words, or whatever the Spirit moves. If writing words does not work, try drawing.
Segment 8 – Prayerful Gratitude (5 – 10 minutes)
Before you return to your busy life, step out to your backyard or balcony and look at God’s creation. Look at the sky, clouds, or, if it’s nighttime, the stars and moon. If possible, go for a short walk. Take it in and be grateful.
You can now return to the demands and chores of the day.
46 Hours of Prayer – Schedule
Wednesday, Jan. 20 Introduction: Read the Introductory Material.
(Go to the “Worship” tab and click on 46 Hours of Prayer.)
Prayer #1 – A written prayer for the inauguration of the President.
Thurs., Jan. 21 (5:00 to 5:30 p.m.) Discussion #1 Lesson and Review of Introductory Material
Sunday, Jan. 24 Prayer #2 – Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Prayers 3,4 & 5 available on the website.
Sunday, Jan. 31 Prayer #6 – Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Prayers 7, 8 & 9 available on the website.
Thurs., Feb 4 (5:00 – 5:30 p.m.) Discussion #2 Lesson and Sharing of Prayer Experiences
Sunday, Feb. 7 Prayer #10 – Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Prayers 11, 12 & 13 available on the website.
Sunday, Feb. 14 Prayer #14 – Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Prayers 15, 16, & 17 available on the website.
Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17 Season of Lent begins.
Prayer # 18 – Participate in the Ash Wednesday prayer.
Thurs, Feb. 18 (5:00 – 5:30 p.m.) Discussion #3 Lesson and Sharing of Prayer Experiences
Sunday, Feb. 21 Prayer #19 - Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Prayers 20, 21 and 22 available on the website.
Wednesday, Feb. 24 Prayer #23 – Participate in the online devotional.
Sunday, Feb. 28 Prayers #24 – Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Prayers 25, 26 & 27 available on the website.
Wednesday, March 3 Prayer #28 – Participate in the online devotional.
Thursday, March 4 Discussion #4 Lesson and Sharing of Prayer Experiences
Sunday, March 7 Prayer #29 – Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Prayers 30, 31, 32 available on the website.
Wednesday, March 10 Prayer #33 – Participate in the online devotional.
Sunday, March 14 Prayer #34 – Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Prayers 35, 36 and 37 available on the website.
Wednesday, March 17 Prayer #38 – Participate in the online devotional.
Thursday, March 18 Discussion #5 Lesson and Sharing of Prayer Experiences
Sunday, March 21 Prayer #39 – Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Prayers 40 and 41 available on the website.
Wednesday, March 24 Prayer # 42 – Participate in the online devotional.
Thursday, March 25 Discussion #6 Lesson and Sharing of Prayer Experiences
Sunday, March 28 Prayer #43 – Participate in the Sunday Worship prayer.
Holy Week Prayers 44 and 45 available on the website.
Sunday, April 4 Prayer # 46 – Participate in the Easter Sunday prayer.