The worship committee hosted a series of three workshops in June and July 2019.

Why worship?, on 27th June was the first workshop featuring a conversation with Stephen Burns.  Read more

The second workshop ‘Writing Prayers‘ on 11th July was a practical workshop exploring the process of preparing and writing prayers. 

Join us for the final workshop in the series ‘Sensory Worship‘ on  Thursday 18th July.

Passion for Prayer

Our gathering of 12 on 11th July, started with inspiring and wide ranging discussion about ‘what is prayer’, led by Rev Ian Ferguson.

Defining prayer showed the diversity within the Brunswick Uniting community from using traditional definitions e.g. adoration & praise, confession, intercessory, thanks giving, blessings, through to the poetic, drawing upon other traditions & the mystical.  Prayer was seen as personally centring, connecting with God, transformational, transporting us into Spirit & places where we may be blissfully ‘oblivious’.  The intent of prayer, its focus are key, opening and re-centring us, offering space, possibly painful emotional, grief & soul searching as well as joy and grace.

We explored the passion and creativity that the group felt about prayer, through words, thoughts feelings and bodily sensations & movement that came before, during and as part of the process evoked by prayer development & offering. Prayer in public was particularly deep, powerful and simultaneously personal when undertaken withthe community. It is interactive, coming from the heart, in human rhythm, resonating & impacting upon & with the community.  Thus the power of collective consciousness on our own individual experience of prayer & vice versa.

We discussed the ingredients of prayer – the voice used, the importance of rhythm and tone, the preparation and setting up the atmosphere for the prayer, hopefully drawing us in. The importance of human feeling and emotion in the ‘Pray-er’ was crucial. Use of intuition, quiet reflective space to prepare and allowing Spirit to move through the writer/creator, is crucial.

Prayer can be wordy, with words being a distraction. The mind may go off on tangents with feelings of guilt for not staying focused (or is this actually what prayer is?), or words may offer structure, especially chants/mantras, the simplicity & repetition drawing us deeper into truth, wisdom, love & God’s divinity. Prayer needs to be relevant, relating to the group, sharing &  refocusing our common values hope’s and concerns

Discussions touched on varying theologies, spiritual experiences and mystical connections amongst the Trinity through to God as the Divine, the Goddess, Sophia, the Feminine and the multiple names of God in Christianity & other faiths  through to the interconnectedness between us & beyond ourselves.  Prayer has space for the person who has no fixed belief or is different from the Christian perspective.

The Mystery of God is emphasised in prayer & is an avenue to connecting us with the humanness of Jesus, and us as imperfect vessels of the Divine. What impact do our prayers have? Are they coming from our own need /egos /emotions? – yet God uses us in our humanness to express Spirit, despite these impulses. It is a mystical transformation through words, silence & the sacred space.

Peter spoke about his process of prayer development, including a handout – 1. Mindset. 2. Approach: researching, awareness of the audience & the needs of the community bring yourself in to the process, seeing yourself as the medium of the message. 3. Post writing return & reflection, to be vigilant about words so they are not oppressive or too many.  4. Pray about the prayer; stand aside looking for the relevance, sitting with the words, open & receptive but a dynamic process. 5. Allowing God’s grace to speak – ‘Not mine will oh God but thine.’

 Saide inspired us deeply and joyfully with her infectious passion for prayer and liturgy . Her inspiration comes from meeting with the preacher, reading Natalie’s blogs of soul music, engaging in the readings for that week, reflecting on community experiences, seeking a common thread, with songs and prayers, embracing the overview of the service to keep the balance, the pattern, the shape of the liturgy and  how the prayers move through  the service.  She has written adoration, confession, lament & many other  prayers each of them reflecting God’s grace & her awe of God, the loving energy and how Jesus changes lives though his humanness and divinity.

Putting theory into practice, we reflected upon the Gospel reading of the Good Samaritan for the coming Sunday service (Luke 10: 25).  We then worked individually and wrote for 10 – 15 mins, the prayers produced to be interspersed in service on Sunday 14thof July 2019, spoken by their creators. This process crystallised into the Worship service with which God’s grace, all fitted into the format and flow of service.

We were all struck by the creativity, depth, joy and passion about prayer from each of the participants, each bringing  a unique aspect of living prayer and spirituality as members of the congregation at BUC.

Jenne Perlstein
You can read the collection here.