prayer and listening

Yesterday we worshipped in a park in downtown Atlanta, and met Bob and Holly Book who started the street church there, then walked through the Martin Luther King Jr. national historic site, and ended up at the Open Door community to worship with them. The Sunday gospel was the story of the rich man and Lazarus, which takes on a powerful meaning in communties like those.

Another good discovery came through a conversation with Aunt Alice, who is a psychologist for an international missions organization. She told us of a practice started by Karen Mains, small listening groups, where each person is given time to talk about anything they wish:

We gather, go into silent listening prayer, one person shares, the others keep praying and listening. When the person who has been sharing is done, we go again into silence, which is only broken when that person thinks of something else that needs to be spoken or gives permission for the group to respond. And we do respond, but only with questions. Then we go back into prayer-filled silence and this is broken after a few minutes when the next person begins the cycle again.
Both Heather and I think this might be good to use at our retreats, to get a sense of each retreatant, to set the tone of respectful listening, and most of all to show love by our complete focused attention on each person.