The Bible studies are designed for use in small groups, for personal reflection, for RCIA programs, or for high school religion classes.
As a member of a small group, please try to follow these basic guidelines:
1. Prepare in advance by completing the chapter for each session.
2. Come to each session ready to contribute to the discussion.
3. Keep the focus on the study questions and commentary; avoid discussions on side issues or on current political events that can distract the group from focusing on God’s Word.
4. Pray daily for the members of your group.
Consider volunteering to be a facilitator. Each small group needs a facilitator who can foster discussion and keep the group focused on the questions and commentary. A facilitator should:
1. Welcome. Welcome each of the participants.
2. Review. Go over the basic guidelines for small groups (see previous page).
3. Pray. Begin each meeting with thanksgiving and prayer, especially invoking the Holy Spirit to guide the session. For example, you could pray the Come Holy Spirit Prayer (see the end of this section for the prayer).
4. Read. Begin by asking someone to read the commentary at the beginning of the chapter. (This study is designed so that each chapter is self-contained and thus, all the information needed for each session is provided in the chapter.) Plan to go through an entire chapter together as a group. Maintain involvement by inviting each member to read a Scripture reading or a commentary section.
5. Invite. When you get to each study question, as the facilitator, read each one aloud, pausing so that group members have time to share their answers to each question or pondering.
6. Encourage all to participate in answering the questions and in discussion so that no one person monopolizes the session or feels left out.
7. Focus. Keep the focus on each question and do not allow the group to be distracted from the questions and commentary. If someone tries to lead the group astray on a subject unrelated to answering a question, simply say, “We can discuss that later--after the meeting, but for now let’s stay focused on the question and the Scriptures.”
8. Commentary. Emphasize the commentary, word studies and notes. This study contains supplementary information from historical sources, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Catholic scholars.
9. Follow-up. Encourage each group member to do the chapter study and answer the questions before coming to the session. It will have a huge impact on the depth of the discussion if everyone has prepared in advance. You might also suggest they review the study covered in the present session a second time after the meeting, and thus, allow the Lord to lead them more deeply into the Word of God.
10. Prayer. End each session with prayer. Invite popcorn prayer* where each person prays a one-sentence prayer for personal needs and then says, “For this I pray to the Lord.” Everyone responds, “Lord, hear our prayer.” Then another person pops in a one-sentence prayer and the prayers continue.
If you want to start a new study group, ask the Lord for his counsel—who you should invite to the group, and if there is someone who could help you get a small group study started. Then the two of you will want to pray together often for each other and for the group members. Remember, Jesus sent the disciples out to minister two-by- two. (Luke 9: 1-6)
The Come Holy Spirit Prayer
Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit
and they shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit,
did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same Holy Spirit
we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations,
Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Popcorn prayer is based on Jesus' words in Matthew 18:19, “Truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
So, popcorn prayer is defined as a type of corporate prayer where individuals verbalize their prayers in random order—it resembles popcorn popping as each one expresses no more than one or two sentences of petition or praise during a designated prayer time.
For petitions, after a short request, the person says, "For this I pray to the Lord," and everyone in unison responds, "Lord hear our prayer."
For thanksgivings, after a short thanksgiving, the person says, “For this I praise and thank You Lord Jesus" and everyone in unison responds, "We praise and thank you, Lord Jesus."
In a small group, it is important to keep petitions short so that everyone can contribute, prayerfully focus and agree about each petition. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:7 that we should not think God hears us more because "we use many words," when instead, He hears our hearts and He knows our needs.
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