Prayer Retreat Builds Leadership Skils


A church needs leaders. The first step is for a person to come forward and offer to lead. Another step is to build the skills that make for effective leadership. One way to do that is through the Lay Servant Ministries program. Lay Servant Ministries can provide training for the local church or across the connection.

Composed of basic and advanced level training, it covers a variety of leadership areas from preaching to prayer.
The summer, an advanced class on prayer was held in a retreat format at the home of Jean Neely in Bay City, Oregon. Neely is the Lay Servant Coordinator for the Cascadia District and a member of the Board of Lay Ministries.
For the eight women gathered, the retreat helped them grow in community, understanding of prayer, and their ability to use pray to strengthen their church community.

Read Neely’s story of the weekend journey:

A group of eight women met on Friday evening, July 17, at my home in Bay City. We were going to learn more about how to pray when leading others during the weekend.

Some were apprehensive about this because they had no, or very little, experience praying when others could hear. Some of the women had experience with this, but wanted to be better at it. Some of the women knew one another, some did not know anyone else in the group. Some of the women had taken a class led by me before, some had not. All were ready to learn together.
The first evening, we made a set of prayer beads appropriate for Protestants and learned some ways to use them to focus our own personal prayer lives. This proved to be a very popular welcoming activity. I noticed most of the women had their beads with them at each session.

As we went through the various types of prayers offered in community – intercession, pastoral, collects, table graces, etc. – the women in the class began to see how various prayers are constructed, whether ahead of time or “on the fly”.  The idea that prayers can actually be constructed was new to most; the consensus is these ideas for constructing prayers are helpful.
One of the kinds of prayers we discussed is the lament. An insight that came from this discussion is that it is okay to be angry and to pray in that vein for a time. God listens and helps overcome the anger.

We discussed how personal devotional time helps us create community prayers since we become more accustomed to talking to God during personal devotions. Some of the women were not in the practice of daily devotional time, but recognized the benefit such time gives each person and decided to begin this practice. As part of this discussion, we talked about journaling – a practice new to some of the women. Some who have already used journaling as part of their lives shared how they benefit from this practice.

By the time the weekend ended on Sunday afternoon, these eight women had become friends. They found strength from one another and the concerns shared during the sessions. Those who had experience in leading prayer learned new ways of doing so. Those who had no experience began with simple table graces during the meal times we shared and can begin to build their confidence when among friends and family.  This group looks forward to gathering again in the future.

God was with this group of women, showing them how to connect with God in their prayer lives, both public and private.

If you have questions about Lay Servant Ministry (previously known as Lay Speaking Ministry) contact Jean Neely at jn183826chi@embarqmail.com.