Week of Guided Prayer

I am in Southland this week with John Franklin, my chaplain. We are conducting a Week of Guided Prayer, which is also known in some circles as a Retreat In Daily Life. The WGP is a process I have used for many year now. It derives, ultimately, from the Ignatian spiritual exercises, and is, in essence a fairly simple thing. Participants gathered yesterday at Holy Trinity Gore and together we used a fairly simple prayer exercise. Then, after an initial conversation, each of the retreatants has covenanted to spend half an hour a day in prayer, and another half hour a day in conversation with a prayer guide, ie John or me. I recognise that for most people, the prospect of half an hour in prayer is a bit daunting, so every day I will suggest a way of prayer, and if necessary provide the resources that are needed for it. Next Saturday morning we will gather again for eucharist and a final group exercise and the process will have ended.

I know that someone as experienced in Spiritual Direction as John could lead this week by himself, and that we have several other people in the diocese capable of assisting him, but I am here in the deep South leading this week personally for two reasons. One is that I have a great deal of respect for this process, having witnessed the profound transformation it has wrought in peoples' lives in the past, and I want to show by my participation just how important I believe it is for our diocese. Secondly, I wish to show something of what i believe the role of Bishop should be about. The church has, over the millennia, done a wonderful job of making an institution oif itslef, and of definging the role of bishop as a functionary within  that institution. I guess I'm not a very instituional sort of person and I'd like to do things differently. Sitting with people and walking with them as the Holy Spirit makes profound changes in their lives seems to me to be just the sort of difference I would most like.

So John and I are camped in the Gore Vicarage, and travelling to various points around town and further South. We are early in the week yet, but early indications are that this WGP is going to be just as transformative, healing and inspiring as have been all the other ones I have participated in. It's looking good for Southland and for the rest of our diocese.

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