By Karen Mravetz
Every year as we approach Great Lent, we enter into a time of preparation for Christ’s resurrection, Holy Pascha. We prepare ourselves by spending more time in prayer and meditation, in fasting and repentance. Not only should we be praying for our family and ourselves, but we can pray also for other members of our parish through a project called “Gift of Prayer.” This gift involves both children and adults praying for one another for the entire Lenten season.
How to go about it
Select a designated area for collecting the names of interested participants. It would be helpful to have a poster in this area announcing the project, “A Gift of Prayer” and how it will work. There should also be baskets/boxes appropriately labeled, pens, and prayer cards (forms indicating an intention to participate). Place an announcement and/or flyer in your church bulletin.
Beginning with the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, members of the congregation can express their intention to participate by completing a prayer card and placing it in a basket/box labeled “Adults” in this designated area. Church school teachers will have students complete prayer cards and place them in a basket/box labeled “Church School Teachers and Students.” You may find it will be necessary to include choir members, clergy, and some other adults in the Church School Teachers and Students basket in order to make up an equal number of participants in each basket.
On Cheesefare Sunday and the Eve of the beginning of Great Lent, have an announcement made and/or indicate in the bulletin that the “Gift of Prayer” Project will begin. Each adult whose name is in the “Adult’s” basket should be asked to draw a name from the “Teacher’s/Student’s” Basket while the children, church school teachers, etc., whose names are in the “Teacher’s/Student’s” basket should draw a name from the “Adult’s” basket. Along with their daily prayers, then, each participant will pray for the person they picked during the Lenten season.
At the conclusion
At the Pascha Service and the joyful celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask that the children and adults reveal to each other the individual for whom they were praying. It is a special and happy moment for all who have participated. As some adults and children may not be able to attend the late service, another option would be to disclose yourself to your Prayer Partner on Saint Thomas Sunday, the following week. A card, a note or a prayer journal is an excellent way to reveal yourself to your Prayer Partner.
As we all know, prayer is powerful, and God answers according to His will and what is best for us. This project will help your parish grow spiritually as a church family through prayer for others as you journey through Great Lent. Encourage the adults and children to continue to keep their “chosen” person and others in their prayers. During fellowship time after Divine Liturgy, spend some time getting to know that person in a special way.
Karen Mravetz is the Church School Coordinator at Holy Trinity Church, Parma, OH.