Listen to the Spirit … adapt as needed …
stay longer where you are drawn …
**NOTE**: This outline is meant to be a template to help your group devote as many meetings as you need to the sharing of your spiritual autobiographies as described in the previous meeting. Generally, one or two members will share their 15-20 minute spiritual history with the group during the Focus Exercise time of the meeting. (For helps in preparing, see the “Active Listening & Spiritual Autobiographies” handout from meeting 2.01). Repeat this meeting format until every group member has had a chance to share their story.
While there is no set number of meetings that need to be completed for this section, groups tend to have around 8-10 people and may take up to around 10 weeks to complete this process. To help the group continue to grow during this time, we have also provided “prayer helps” handouts to help foster prayer outside of the meetings. It is important that each member makes an effort to develop a personal prayer life outside of the group. By using these common prompts, the group can support and walk with each other in deepening their prayer lives while also creating space for individual stories to be told in greater detail through the sharing of spiritual autobiographies.
To use these prayer resources, go to the “2.02 Personal Prayer During Spiritual Autobiographies” page (or view a PDF version here: “Personal Prayer During Spiritual Autobiographies”) before the next meeting and print out a copy of the appropriate prayer prompt for each member. It is best to use the prayer handouts in the order they are listed. Distribute the handout at the end of the Check-In time. Ask everyone to commit as much as they are able to praying regularly with the handout before the next meeting. When the group next meets, the Check-In sharing can then be focused more directly on people’s experiences and responses to these prayer prompts.
“Those of great heart and set on fire with zeal to follow Jesus…will not only offer themselves entirely to labor for such a mission, but will act against anything which would make their response less total.” – Spiritual Exercises #97
Grace to seek/ask: To listen more deeply to God’s movements within us in prayer and in the spiritual journeys of others…
Offer a spontaneous prayer that relates to the topic of the night or write/find a prayer that speaks to the graces desired.
Please share for a few minutes about how you are doing, based on the following questions:
- Since the last time we’ve met, what has given you life or drawn you closer to God?
- What has drained you of life or drawn you away from God?
- Please describe any significant encounters with God in prayer, service, or relationship with others. In particular, can you articulate any feelings, insights, or movements that arose while praying with the handout for these past days/weeks?
(After everyone has shared, distribute the prayer handout for the following days/weeks and ask if there are any questions.)
Tonight we’ll have one or two of us share to help us continue to get to know each other more deeply and how God has been moving in our lives. (Ask those who are sharing tonight if they have an opening song or prayer. If not, invite them to begin when they are ready. Remind the rest of the group that it is in listening that the group is learning and loving tonight.)
Listening and Sharing
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach this time differently, such as with more open-ended questions, etc. In response to those who have offered their stories tonight, members may feel moved to ask clarifying questions about what has been shared. Encourage questions/comments to be sensitive, open, and come from a desire to better understand and embrace the other. The following suggestions may be helpful:
- Thank you so much for sharing. I really resonate with what you said about the time in your life when…
- I didn’t quite understand what you meant by…Would you mind saying more about that?
- If you didn’t yet have a chance to think about it, is there a motif or image that you think might describe your journey well?…In listening to your story, this image came to mind for me…
- Looking back on it now, how do you think God may have been present during the time in your life when…?
- Given what your relationship with God has looked liked in the past, what desires (if any) do you have for your relationship with God now and in the future?
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions about the focus exercise can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach this time differently, such as with more open ended questions, etc.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or similarities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
- What stays with you? What do you hope to return to in prayer at another point in the week?
Remind members again to commit as much as they are able to praying regularly with the handout for the coming days/weeks. Make sure that everyone is clear about who will be sharing their autobiography during the next meeting. (If tonight was your last meeting to share spiritual autobiographies, note that the group will be moving on next time to a meeting that will help them reflect back on the group’s journey so far. It will be a chance to pause and more deeply notice what their experiences have been like and how God has been present, etc. The group will then transition to a new focus on more about what it means to be a CLC group.)
Write a prayer that fits the meeting or ask if anyone from the group would like to offer a spontaneous prayer. Consider having the group pray in thanksgiving in a special way for the members who have shared their stories tonight…