This week I want to highlight a third practice that gives shape to walking well with others as a friend or a mentor. My reflections here are again adapted from our VP3 resource entitled Walking Alongside Others: A Mentoring Guide.
Practice #3 – Prayer
Prayer in this mentoring context is about cultivating a deep trust in the loving movement of God in the life of another. As mentors or friends we pay attention to the everyday ordinary life of another, helping them identify and see what is already in play and at work. Amidst the comings and goings of work and school, amidst the meals and chores, amidst the anxieties and arguments and joys of family and community, we become what Barbara Brown Taylor calls “detectives of divinity.”
We facilitate an awareness of God’s already present and loving activity in their lives; we seek and discern together what God might be up to in our midst. The extraordinary mountaintop moments of epiphany and revelation are few and rare, but the gentle probing of our questions draw us back to the central action of spirituality: paying attention to the presence of God in everything.
This practice of prayer, when joined with the practices of listening and question asking, fosters an environment of grace and truth and expectation. As Aelrid of Rievaulx put it so invitingly centuries ago:
Here we are, you and I, and I hope a third, Christ in our midst…. Come now, beloved, open your heart, and pour into these friendly ears whatsoever you will, and let us accept gracefully the blessing of this place, time and leisure.
So … what sort of soul companions are we becoming as we travel together on this journey? In many ways, these three practices (listening, question-asking, and prayerfulness) are simple and straightforward, but they are difficult to live out consistently and compassionately. We can certainly grow in our capacity to do these things well, but there is a sense in which each of these activities requires the disposition of a beginner. We will always know the struggle of listening well or asking thoughtful questions or praying honestly. But if we are going to become good soul companions for others, then we will be lifelong learners of each of these practices.
Dear Lord, help us become more aware that your Spirit goes before us, walks alongside us, and goes after us in our relationships with one another. Encourage us to put into practice a prayerful way of seeing others to walk alongside. I know you will be faithful to walk alongside me. Confirm in my spirit the person/s I am to walk with in this season of life. Amen.
Reflect and Respond
Prayerfully prepare for this walking alongside ministry. Take time to evaluate how you see yourself in the following areas:
- How are you doing as a listener these days?
- How are you doing as an interested question-asker?
- How are you modeling a heart of prayerfulness with others?
- How do you sense the Spirit at work in your own life?