A group of men gather on Wednesday mornings at my church, St. Bernadette in Louisville KY. It’s a group of catholic men focused on growing as Men of Christ then sharing then the “Good News” with our wives, girlfriends, children, families, co-workers, and friends. We call it boot-camp but we’re not building muscle, we’re building our faith.
It started a number of years ago when a friend, Joe Bonura, called and asked if I would like to pray with him and a group of men on Wednesday mornings. I said yes and he told me they were meeting at his church at 5:00 AM. I asked if we could do it at 10:00am but Joe told me the men in his church were challenged by a preacher visiting from the country of Kenya to get up early in the morning and pray. I said I would be there and started a process where I grew in prayer and in my faith. My protestant friends went deep into prayer.
After a couple of years of being faithful to the men’s prayer group at Southeast Christian Church I decided to start a Wednesday morning group at my church. I felt compelled to give Catholic men a chance to start Wednesday mornings in prayer. We begin at 6:00 am, but still get a few early morning comments and complaints. But the purpose of the early morning start is simple; nothing else gets in the way.
A week ago we had a special visit to our “Catholic” Wednesday morning gathering at St. Bernadette. Three men from the “Protestant” Wednesday morning group paid us a visit. It was a joy to see Mark, Daniel, and Gary. They blended in nicely.
As we started I asked if someone would like to open with prayer. Normally there is a long silence and most often I end up leading the group in prayer. But not this day. One of our visitors, Mark was the first with a hand up when I invited someone to open the event with prayer. Mark’s prayer was personal, specific, focused and fervent. He shared himself and brought Jesus alive in our midst as he always does in prayer. It was a mini-lesson for our group to hear his heart-felt opening prayer. Many in our group are still growing in shared prayer.
After the opening prayer we stepped into a wonderful hour of scripture, working on leadership and listening skills, and additional prayer. All talents we can use in all parts of life. When it was time to conclude the “boot-camp” for another week, I asked if someone would like to close with prayer. Daniel Sam’s hand went up and he quickly stood up.
Daniel started his prayer by thanking God for the time together and to help us practice what we learned. Then he broke into song; heartfelt, joyous, fervent song. Mark and Gary, the other two-thirds of our protestant visitors, joined in. I was in the front of the room, eyes closed and singing quietly with my no-talent singing skills, and smiling. I didn’t want to look at my Catholic brothers who I believe were thinking, “What kind of praying is this?”
But that is always part of Daniel’s prayer. I heard it weekly in my previous Wednesday mornings at Southeast Christian Church.
The meeting broke up and not much was said about our new friend’s way of praying, but this past Wednesday there was some discussion about their visit and the uniqueness of their prayer. And then we started working on growing as Men of Christ.
As we closed the gathering I did as I always do on Wednesday morning, I asked if someone would like to close in prayer. I joked that you don’t have to sing like we did last week when Daniel closed with his singing prayer. I was ready for the normal long pause. But to my surprise Patrick Renn raised his hand and started to pray. Not the unusual way of praying at our St. Bernadette Wednesday morning gathering. Pat started to sing! He stepped up and shared a beautiful rendition of “Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord.” It was beautiful to hear him, and the rest of the Wednesday morning group join together to praise God in song. It was powerful! Then he closed his prayer with the spoken word.
I watched as we stretched ourselves. The Wednesday morning group of men grew this past Wednesday morning. Some visitors came and witnessed to us with prayer that is a bit unique and we learned. They witnessed to us and we grew. These are the simple lessons God wants us to see, experience, learn and then share. He wants us to “Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord.”
Thanks Patrick … and thanks Daniel. I love Wednesday mornings.