During the Revival service, the liturgy had a section titled in the bulletin, “invitation to prayer stations” with instructions: “Prayer stations will begin at this point and will continue through the remainder of the liturgy as needed. Please follow your heart and the Holy Spirit.”
For some in the Episcopal Church, it may have been the first experience of a prayer station. We’ve consulted with a local vicar, The Rev. Scott Painter, whose church, Grace Episcopal in Houston, regularly has prayer stations. This guide is intended to demystify what happens at an Episcopal prayer station.
1. If you feel even a small urge, walk up to the prayer station and to the person who waits to pray with you. While each person who prays is different, it is probable they will greet you with a smile and ask something like, “What can I pray about with you today?”
This is the opportunity to name your prayer concern, and there is no right or wrong request for prayer. It is not important that you are able to articulate exactly what you need prayer for and you can pray for others, yourself, or even something abstract. To name your prayer concern is a great gift of being prayed for. It is vulnerable to name a concern with someone else and, thus, this is a very important part of the process. Accept that the one praying for you has your best intentions in mind and in heart. This is not a coercive act, but one of vulnerability, love and trust that another person can help.
2. After you name a prayer concern, you will be prayed for. This prayer is an opportunity for another person to hear and “agree” with your prayer concern. One misconception of this prayer is that we chase an experience. To be prayed for is not another person healing you. It is not dramatic; it is for you with someone else to lift your prayer to God. God is still the one doing the work but sometimes the words of another can help us in our giving something to God. Praying with another person does not mean God leaves the picture.
The prayer will form in the moment, and you are welcome to respond in prayer or just be prayed for. Praying and being prayed for is intended to open us more to the Holy Spirit. Some have a gift of extemporaneous prayer while others are simply well-practiced. There is not a better or worse prayer, only a prayer spoken to God.
3. After the prayer has ended (Amen). You are free to thank the person who prayed for you or just walk back to your seat. That’s it. It’s prayer!
This kind of prayer is important for the Episcopal Church because our liturgy, while beautiful, doesn’t make a lot of space for individual concerns to be brought forward, named, and lifted in prayer. This provides space to pray for those times, which we all have, when our prayers are not packaged into the poetic prose of our prayer book. Being prayed for and with is a powerful resource intended to make space for God’s kingdom to come in a place of need (in ourselves and in the world).
Final words of wisdom: Try it! Take a step, and ask someone to pray for you and trust that God’s grace is expansive enough to meet you in ways you may never have thought possible.