What is a Charismatic Prayer Group?
Charismatic prayer meeting consists of a group of people from varying backgrounds who meet regularly (usually weekly) in an atmosphere of love and support for one another in an effort to grow in the knowledge and love of God, and to show this love in their attitude to their neighbour.Each prayer meeting is open to anyone who wants to come. Those who attend CCR prayer meetings are predominantly Catholic, but groups are open to anyone.
The prayer meeting has been a place where many, many, people have found a new dimension to their spiritual lives, and have discovered the love of God in a more profound way.
St Paul wrote in 1 Cor 14:26:
When you assemble, one has a hymn, another some instruction to give, still another a revelation to share, one speaks in a tongue, another interprets. Let all things be done to build up the community.
The meeting takes place in a relaxed atmosphere where joy and the love of God is emphasised, and where everyone is welcomed. God is praised with enthusiasm. Praise of God is characteristic of Catholic Charismatic Renewal, in line with the Catholic tradition in which praise permeates the liturgy, song and prayer.
Sometimes people suggest that the praise in the prayer meeting is ‘forced’ in that it does not reflect the way people feel. It is ‘put on.’ CCR encourages people to incorporate praise of God into their whole lives, as in praising God we go out of ourselves and gaze at the goodness of God. Often people’s problems disappear when they begin to praise God, who gives them a new perspective on things. Praise focuses on the utter goodness of God, and celebrates his goodness in our lives. “Rejoice in the Lord always,” said Paul (Phil 4:4). We believe our joy should be expressed often in praise.
Large parts of the prayer meeting are quiet. Silence forms an important part of the worship periods, and people are encouraged to listen to what the Lord is saying to them. Some will sense that God has a message of encouragement, exhortation, or consolation for the group, and will feel moved to speak this out. This is known as the gift of prophecy.
The Word of God in Scripture is read and listened to, and regular teaching on Scripture and aspects of the Christian life instructs and helps people to grow in their spiritual life. Each prayer meeting has a teaching program. In addition to these times, there are times of prayer ministry, and times of intercession. People are encouraged to share what God has done in their lives as a most important way of building the faith of others. The Eucharist is often celebrated for the prayer group, and time may be spent before the Blessed Sacrament. There is much variety in the prayer meeting.
A leader coordinates these main segments of the meeting:
- Praise and Worship
God is praised in song and prayer for his majesty, his love and his faithfulness, and thanked for his grace in our lives. This praise and thanksgiving may be in words, songs or through that way of praying without words known as ‘praying in tongues,’ which has been described by Fr Robert Faricy, S.J., as a form of contemplative prayer, and by others as similar to praying the rosary. This form of contemplative prayer follows a long Catholic contemplative tradition. St Teresa of Avila wrote of a form of prayer which she called “jubilation” — “a strange prayer I don’t understand.” She called it “a deep union of the faculties” and that “all [the soul’s] activity is directed to this praise (Interior Castle 6.6.10).
Someone may speak an exhortation or word of encouragement from God, through the Holy Spirit. The group discerns this word in the light of Scripture and the Catholic tradition.
Someone may share a brief passage of Scripture. CCR encourages the prayerful use of Scripture as taught by the Church.
A speaker may give a short talk on one of a variety of subjects aimed at helping us to know God and to lead better Christian lives.
There will usually be times of intercession for the needs of the world, the Church, parish and home. Prayer for healing is always available for those who ask for it.
Someone may relate how they have experienced God working in their life, and how God has blessed them and changed them.
Throughout, the aim is to be open to the action of God’s Spirit in the meeting.