Shepherding in Special Times: Fellowship, Group Pray-reading

A man holds a cross in his hands.
A man holds a cross in his hands.
By CCD contributor: Si XiangMarch 26th, 2020

Starting at the end of January, Christian churches around the country responded to the local government's Covid-19 prevention and control requirements and suspended open venues and placesof worship. Although the current situation is under control, the overall pandemic situation is still urgent, so it is still unknown when the church will be able to hold open services. Given the continuing development of the epidemic, the actual shepherding of the church has faced many challenges. Where should we go from here?

During this time, the pastoral co-workers of many churches have used the Internet to carry out online shepherding. In some remote rural areas, the elderly and children don't have access or aren't familiar with how to use online resources. But people in other places where they can use the Internet have carried out online pastoral support of their congregations.

Some pastors use live recordings to share with their followers. Some pastors use text messages or phone greetings to care for their followers and help them to deal with their worries. Many pastoral workers use a variety of means to guide believers to face the epidemic correctly.

However, we have to admit that online shepherding has its shortcomings. There are fewer personal connections between people, so we may not understand an individual's situation and needs in time. In this regard, I have seen that many churches have carried out the methods of fellowship and group pray - reading, and the results are also very good. So I want to share these methods, hoping they might help the church fulfill its pastoral role.

First of all, we divide into groups and train the backbone or the group leader of each fellowship. A group has up to seven people. After the training the group leader needs to train other people in his fellowship.

Let 's first understand what pray-reading is. It is to read the Bible in prayer. We need to know that the Hebrews method of contemplation and meditation was not silent. In fact, they repeated the Scripture continuously in a soft and monotonous bass voice to concentrate on the Scripture and exclude external influences. This is the Hebrew 's unique style of reading scripture and praying. Pray - reading is like reading the Scriptures in a low voice, reading and pondering repeatedly. Pray with the Scriptures until it becomes clear what the Lord is saying to us. They are the spirit, and they are the life that enter our souls to feed us.

Group prayer reading is when one person sends the Scriptures to the group and then everyone reads and prays in order. Prayer reading is mainly done with the mouth open, the heart open, and the spirit open. The effect of pray-reading is very different from personal pray-reading.

In particular, remember four tips for group prayer: fast, short, true, and new. First, pray fast, and don't hesitate. When you pray fast there is no time to think. Second, prayers should be short, because long prayers need to make an article. We must forget about organizing long prayers, and just say a short sentence or even a phrase. We also need to be true and not fake. Be honest. Finally, prayer need to be fresh and not obsolete. To be fresh, the best way is not to pray with our own words, but with the words of the Bible. Every part of the entire Bible can be used to pray. This is the freshest prayer!

Let's look at the examples that the following spiritual sages have given us to read:

Madame Jeanne Guyon shared the method of guided prayer, "There are two means by which we may be led into the higher forms of prayer. One is _Meditation_, the other is _Meditative Reading_. By meditative reading I mean the taking of some truths, either doctrinal or practical--the latter rather than the former--and reading them in this way: --Take the truth which has presented itself to you, and read two or three lines, seeking to enter into the full meaning of the words, and go on no further so long as you find satisfaction in them; leave the place only when it becomes insipid. After that, take another passage, and do the same, not reading more than half a page at once. It is not so much from the amount read that we derive profit, as from the manner of reading." (A Short and Easy Method of Prayer)

Originally George Muller got up every morning to pray before reading the Bible, but later he changed to reading the Bible before praying, and then he prayed while reading the Bible. For example, according to his book The Autobiography of George Mueller, after reading a verse about love, he prayed immediately about love. In this way his spiritual life underwent a fundamental change. His prayers were answered countless times throughout his life.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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