By Luke Johnson | January 8, 2018
This is an excellent way to start your week of school. Gather at a coffee shop before school, and take some time to connect, to read scripture together, and to pray for each other.
Open the "Download" above, and follow along:
7:07am - Gather and hang-out
Grab a coffee, settle in and enjoy some catch-up time.
7:25am - Prayer time
Using the provided liturgy, open the "official" time with the words, "The Lord be with you." Go through the call-and-response and pray the Lord's Prayer together.
For the "Scripture" section, you might choose to follow the lectionary your church uses, or choose some readings of your own. I recommend you choose a psalm of about 15-25 verses (or a portion of a longer psalm) and choose a chapter of another scriptural book. This year our group has read through several of the shorter letters of Paul, and then started into Hebrews. Reading one psalm and one other chapter keeps the reading time to about 15 minutes. (You want to leave some good time to pray for each other.) We've found it works really well to read around the circle, each person reading a verse in turn.
When you're done reading, ask the group, "Any thoughts on these readings?" and pause for a moment to allow people to think. This isn't a formal instruction time, but it's always good to invite people to reflect on what they've encountered in scripture.
Next, ask the group, "How can we pray for each other today?" In our practice, we go around the table, each person sharing something that is going on for them or for someone they know. Once everyone has shared, a simple way to proceed is to have each person pray for the person on their right or left.
Leader note: Sometimes coffee shops are a bit noisy and it can be difficult to hear as each person prays. To make sure you know when each person has finished praying, I'd advise you to start the prayer time yourself so that the last person to pray is the person sitting next to you. Then you'll know for certain that the "prayer circle" is over, and you can lead the group on without any awkward pauses or without cutting anyone off accidentally.
Conclude the time by praying the "Prayer of John Chrysostom" and "The Grace" together. Functionally, these corporately-recited prayers signal to everyone that the "open prayer" time is done, and also marks the end of the gathering. This is helpful for getting everyone on their way in time for class.
8:00am - End
I encourage you to make this a weekly habit. You'll find it will enrich your relationships and give you new ability to speak into the lives of your Sr youth. In our experience, because we've taken the time to share about the things happening in our lives each week, these prayer requests become common knowledge and points of conversation throughout the rest of the week, and people will excitedly share when prayers have been answered, or share more vulnerably when situations worsen.
I also encourage you to open up these gatherings to adults in your church. The most important work of any program is to initiate connection and foster relationships. Your Sr youth will be encouraged by the presence of caring adults, and it's an edifying experience for your adult parishioners in their own spiritual formation.
It's also good practice. I tell my Sr youth regularly that I'd love to see them keep up this sort of habit when they move on to university. Just gather a few friends, read some scripture, and pray for each other. It's such a simple thing to do, and has such important payoff.