Welcome to our third week of the Oriens journey. You might find yourself struggling in various ways. Herer are some thoughts on the struggles you might experience.

  • You might find that the first week was very fruitful and the second or third week is less so. We might assume that, "I must be doing something wrong." Not necessarily. God often welcomes us on the retreat by giving us some immediate good feelings or insights. Then he allows things to trickle off. Are we only coming to prayer for good feelings, or do we really want to be with God and love him for who he is, not for what he can do for us? Keep spending that quality time with God.
  • God wants us to be honest with him. We sometimes think that prayer is about telling God what we think he wants to hear. After a week or two, we've run out of nice things to say. Deep down we may be fearful of God, angry at him, or disappointed with life or prayer. God is waiting patiently for us to start telling him what we are really thinking and feeling, and prayer won't become fruitful again until we are willing to be honest.
  • We just get busy. Usually week 3 of Advent is when I start feeling stressed or pressured. We need to not fall into the temptation to shorten or eliminate prayer time to buy us some extra holiday prep. If you start struggling, insist more on getting in the prayer. Even if all you can manage is reading the day's scripture passage while sitting in bed, you will still find blessing and peace there. And if you fall off the wagon entirely, don't worry. Just pick up with today and do this day well.
  • Lastly, you might find that despite your best efforts, "nothing has happened" during your prayer time. One of my most blessed retreats ever was one where nothing actually happened until the retreat was over. God has an amazing gift for you if you have the courage and humility to just keep walking. It will be worth it, so be patient and keep plugging along.
We have 115 people signed up for the Virtual Bible Study which meets Thursdays at 10:00 AM Central Time (16:00 UTC). Sign up by sending an message with your name and Bible Study in the body. If you're supposed to be subscribed but not receiving the emails, let me know.

Small Group Outline

In addition to the daily prayer time, some folks might want to meet with friends or family for an in person or their own virtual group. Here is an outline to facilitate such a meeting.

  1. Opening Prayer
    The leader opens the group with this prayer or with a prayer he or she has composed themselves. "God of second chances, we thank you for responding to human sin, not by running from us, but by drawing near to us. We need a savior! Thank you for your willingness to yourself be a Light in our darkness. Bless us with the grace of humility and littleness so we can wait patiently until your promises come true. Bless our Bible study today and make it fruitful, in Jesus' name."
  2. Group Check-In
    Go around the room and share a burden and a blessing you experienced this past week. Where did you see Jesus, or who were you Jesus to this week?
  3. Suggested Discussion Questions
    1. If you meet early in the week, you can draw on some of the questions from last week.
    2. Tell us about your favorite or most moving prayer time this week?
    3. John the Baptism may be experiencing discouragement. Did you experience any discouragement this past week? How did you address it?
    4. Are you encountering difficulties in your Oriens journey? Will some of Father's suggestions on pp. 83-84 help?
    5. How have you trusted in, or struggled to believe, God's power and protection in your life?
    6. Have you experienced "God-with-us" this past week? How or when?
    7. Where or when did you experience peace?
    8. What do you really want for Christmas?
  4. Group leader should not feel pressure to get every question answered. Allow people the space to say anything and to have an honest, fruitful discussion, while also being mindful of the time allotted. It is important to end the formal part of the Bible Study at the time agreed upon by the group.
  5. Close with a prayer. Ask the group what they would like prayers for. Then conclude by praying an Our Father together.