This Thursday was the National Day of Prayer, and we’re honored to feature a blog written by the coordinator of the inaugural UB School of Prayer! Anne Freeman lives in Roslindale and works as a free-lance American Sign Language interpreter. She also serves as Coordinator of New England Deaf & Hard of Hearing Ministry under the umbrella of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. Anne is married and has a teenage daughter. Read below to hear about how prayer can be a powerful tool for nurturing spiritual unity across Christians.
Prayer is a uniting practice that we as Christians participate in, but due to COVID 19, we’ve had limited opportunities to pray together in person. I was feeling a bit frustrated over the lack of places for us to go deeper in prayer, both in learning about it as well as praying together. To my knowledge, there were no initiatives that provided both learning and praying with others, so I sensed an invitation from God to take the initiative and see what might be done to go deeper in prayer with Christians throughout the city.
After some conversations and prayer with leaders from my house church, I checked with Rev. Kelly Fassett, team leader for UniteBoston, to see if I could serve under that umbrella to offer both teaching on prayer and prayer itself. She agreed to give me a chance to try something new, and the UniteBoston School of Prayer was born!
Ideas came to mind for what this might look like: sessions that offered teachings on a variety of topics related to prayer from a variety of places in the Body of Christ in the greater Boston area. An opportunity for both lay people and professional clergy to do the teachings. A format for the participants to pray together, using what they had just learned and in so doing, maturing in their understanding, experience and expression of prayer.
I also strongly value the mission of UniteBoston, which encourages unity by encouraging us to focus on what we all have in common. I think praying together and sharing what we’ve learned with each other is a way to pursue God’s dream for unity as we “major on the majors.” Above all, I recognized that the way we grow in prayer is by praying!
I created a flyer and was able to line up six great teachers from a broad spectrum of Christian backgrounds to lead the first six meetings: Joy Niemiera, Doreen Bennett, Pastor Dave Hill, Lorienne Schwenk, Pastor Kathleen Verna, and myself. We covered our own personal prayer histories, intercessory and contemplative prayer, Lectio Divina, going from duty to delight, praying the Word, and the ACTS acronym.
In the survey that I sent after the sessions were over, I learned that many appreciated the chance to be part of the meetings and thought it made for greater learning to move out of the circles they normally fellowship in. They felt enriched in their understanding of the aspects of prayer that were covered, and found what we were doing to be refreshing. These are exactly the things I was hoping for!
It was truly a pleasure for me to see teachers in action. They told me it was an honor and blessing to get the invitation to lead. I felt like a producer, getting to use my administrative and networking skills to plan and organize these meetings. Zoom proved to be a useful tool because we could not have done this in person. I suppose I can consider it a pandemic “silver lining”!
Because all participants were interested in prayer in the first place, they brought a lot to the table regarding knowledge and experience. These were not rookies! Most of them serve as leaders either in their home churches or in a parachurch organization, however, their humility in realizing that they still have more to learn was evident.
The first woman to register told me that she felt this was an answer to prayer. She was just telling God her prayer life was weak and then got the flier about the School of Prayer!
John Bumyan said “You can do more than pray after you pray, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” I am convinced that prayer is a primary component of God’s kingdom coming to our city. I was inspired by how God worked through this initiative and am looking forward to hosting another School of Prayer soon!
We are grateful for Anne taking the initiative to launch and organize the School of Prayer! You can read a summary Powerpoint from each of the sessions here. If you’re interested in being notified for future opportunities such as these, you can contact Anne Freeman at email@example.com