Jesus, today, tomorrow, forever


Forever the same ... sharing prayer through Lent

Introduction to a Lent Course on Prayer
for use with the web site, Jesus for Today

It is the most natural thing in the world ... and yet it can be the most difficult!  Prayer

Those new to faith often want to have practical answers to very practical questions about the life of faith.  How should I pray?  How can I pray? Teach me to pray.

People new to faith are not alone in asking such questions.  People whose faith has been a part of their lives for some time find themselves asking very much the same questions.  Maybe their faith hits a difficult patch.  Maybe they long to grow in their faith.  How should I pray?  How can I pray?  Teach me to pray.

These are not new questions.  The very first followers of Jesus wanted to find out more.  They had prayed from childhood.  They had prayed with others.  Yet, when they saw Jesus at prayer and realised all that prayer meant to Jesus they felt strangely inadequate; they wanted to find out more.  ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’

One way to learn is to share.  And that is what this Lent Course is all about.  Sharing.  That’s one way of translating one of the greatest New Testament words.  Koinonia.  It’s occasionally translated as ‘participation’, sometimes as ‘communion’, often as ‘fellowship’.  It simply means ‘sharing’.  It’s what happened when the first followers of Jesus met together [see Acts 2:42].  It’s up there with ‘grace’ and ‘love’ as the third dimension of Christian experience we celebrate as we say the words of The Grace together (II Corinthians 13:13)

By sharing together we learn from one another.

Jesus forever the same - introducing the five sessions of the course

The Course makes use of the five prayer meditations Jesus forever the same which are the third part of the Video Jesus ... today, tomorrow, forever?  It may well be appropriate for the Group to meet during Holy Week and watch the first part of the Video Jesus for Today.   Many of the themes shared during the Lent Course will be echoed in that moving account of the way a Passion Play took the story of Jesus to the streets and moved many who shared in it.

Through the course the Group will share an exploration of different dimensions of prayer - for the course material click on the links below ...

Each session will be made up of three parts:

a.    sharing friendship
b.    sharing reflections on the Bible
c.    sharing prayer

Each week there will be a focus for prayer which will need some preparation beforehand.  The prayers will make use of the Trade Badge of the Trade Justice Movement supported by Christian Aid, CAFOD and many others.

Jesus forever the same - what you will need for each session

The Group will need
·       a Host who will provide refreshments which can be anything from ‘tea and biscuits’ to a light buffet supper which some groups may find most helpful.  The refreshments which begin the evening are a key part of sharing friendship
·       a Leader, supported by a Helper, who will guide the group in the process of sharing reflections on the Bible and sharing prayer.
·       video player and TV to show prayer meditations from Jesus for ever the same, the third part of the Video Jesus ... today, tomorrow, forever?
·       a tape or CD player and an appropriate CD or tape of quiet, reflective music for the time of sharing prayer.
·       a focus for reflection - a ‘table ornament’ which will be used to get minds thinking in sharing reflections on the Bible and to act as a focus in sharing prayer.  At one point in the evening these need to be placed on a low table in the middle of the circle, or in a prominent spot as a focal point.
1.    Friendship- an empty jug of water and glasses or paper cups for each member of the group
2.    Conflict- Hot Cross buns for the refreshments, and one Hot Cross Bun to go on a plate
3.    Betrayal - two large glasses with an inscription written or stuck on them.
4.    Death - a bowl with some perfumed wipes on it.
5.    Resurrection - a ‘crown of thorns’ encircling a nest - with enough mini Easter eggs for each member of the group.   Also a little dish with a small crown of thorns blu-tacked around the plate.
·       enough Trade Badges for each member of the group - group members will be asked to donate £2 towards the Trade Justice campaign and invited to wear the badge as a reminder to continue sharing prayer through the week.

Jesus for ever the same - the structure of each session

·       Sharing Friendship
As people arrive refreshments are served.  This is not only an opportunity to break the ice and build up friendship ... it will help to prepare the way for sharing reflections on the Bible and for sharing prayer.  On the table or near the refreshments place the ‘table ornament’ that will become the focus for reflection.  As people gather round in a circle and everyone has arrived it is best to encourage conversations to flow and to enjoy a good time of fellowship together.  Each week there are a couple of questions which can be used to direct the conversation as this part of the evening comes to an end. This sharing friendship helps shape the way the group will share reflections on the Bible ... there may be connections to be made between the experiences people have shared and the passage of the Bible they go on to share together.  Those experiences may then help to shape the prayer they will share.

·       Sharing Reflections on the Bible
Each week the ‘table ornament’ will be used to lead into the reflections the group shares on the Bible.  It is very important that a real sharing goes on.  The idea is not for one supposed ‘expert’ to tell the others how to read the passage, but rather for people to share their own reflections.  In doing that the group will be encouraged to look out for things in the Biblical passage which will help to shape the prayers they share in the final part of the session.

·       Sharing Prayer
Some quiet music will lead into the final part of the session.  Whatever has been used to prompt reflections on the biblical passage will now become a focus for sharing prayer.  While the leader will guide the group through a time of prayer together the emphasis will be on sharing prayer together as a group.  At each session one of the prayer meditations from Jesus for ever the same, the third part of the Video, Jesus: today, tomorrow, forever?  will be used. A copy of that prayer meditation will be given to each group member to take home and use for reflection during the week.

Jesus for ever the same - signposts to lead you through the notes

The course notes are clearly divided into three sections - sharing friendship, sharing reflections on the Bible, sharing prayer.  They are intended for use by the Leader.
·       words in italics provide the leader with guidelines, explaining how the session works and indicating things that need to be prepared beforehand.
·       a full script is provided to introduce the three sections of each session.  This could be used by a leader, who might give other members of the group parts to read.  Leaders may well prefer to use the script as a starting point for their own introduction.  To help those who want to adapt the script themselves key words and phrases are highlighted in bold text.
·       in the section sharing reflections on the Bible the intention is that the group will come up with their own thoughts on the Bible passage.   The kind of points that will be raised are listed in a box - the leader may find it helpful to prompt the group’s thinking on the points that they have not come up with themselves.   It would be helpful for the Leader to have done some background work on the Bible passage with the help of a commentary before hand.

Jesus for ever the same - follow-up to the course

Forever the same - sharing prayer for Lent is a Lent course that lasts for five weeks.  During Holy Week, on Good Friday or over Easter week-end it would be good for the group to meet together again, or to meet together with other groups to watch Jesusfor Today, the first programme on the Video, Jesus: today, tomorrow, forever?  Many of the things touched on in the course will be echoed on the video.  It would be a good way of gathering the course together and leading into Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter.

The course may be copied for use with the Video, Jesus: today, tomorrow, forever?  The text is © Richard Cleaves, 2002.  The whole course is available on the web, together with other resources at