A woman gazes out of the windows of Catonsville Presbyterian Church

News & Announcements

Growing in Grace

September 6, 2021

Adult Education Opportunities

Many folks desire to deepen their prayer life. Many want to pray but don’t know where to begin. If this is you, then join the congregation- wide discussion of James Martin’s latest book Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone (HarperOne, 2021). This helpful new book explains what prayer is, what to expect from praying, how to do it, and how it can transform us when we make it a regular practice in our lives.

Here is a helpful summary of the book: “A trusted guide walking beside us as we navigate our unique spiritual paths, Martin lays out the different styles and traditions of prayer throughout Christian history and invites us to experiment and discover which works best to feed our soul and build intimacy with our Creator. Father Martin makes clear there is not one secret formula for praying. But like any relationship, each person can discover the best style for building an intimate relationship with God, regardless of religion or denomination. Prayer, he teaches us, is open and accessible to anyone willing to open their heart.”

We invite you to start reading and then join us for conversation at different times throughout October and November. We will have both day and evening options throughout the week. Most of these gatherings will be via Zoom, some will be outdoors in the pavilion (weather permitting).

We’ve had a strong response to our upcoming congregation-wide study of James Martin’s Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone (HarperOne, 2021). Books will continue to be on sale at worship in early October, as well as during the week in the Church House (Tuesday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). The cost of the book is $10. (The Adult Education Committee is covering half the cost of each book.) It is also available on Amazon.com at $19.20 or on Kindle for $14.99.

Martin is a Jesuit priest, writer, and commentator often seen on CNN or heard on NPR. Learning to Pray, his latest book, has received praise from many corners of the contemporary Church, both Roman Catholic and Protestant and from across the theological spectrum. Richard Rohr called it, “A brilliant introduction to prayer.”

Here’s how we’re going to approach this study. We are not going to move through the book chapter by chapter. Neither are we going to have reading assignments. Instead, you are invited to start reading through the book at your own pace. Then, join in the conversation in a way that works for you. There will be opportunities to meet on Sunday and Thursday mornings and on Tuesday evenings throughout October and November (and will probably extend into December). Feel free to attend once or many times or every time. Dorothy Boulton and I will facilitate the conversations. What matters most is that we gather to discuss what we’re reading. We’ll reflect on the importance of prayer, the obstacles to cultivating an active and meaningful prayer life and explore the many ways one can pray. Our time together will be structured around your thoughts, impressions, and questions. For example: What are you learning about prayer? Is it easy or difficult for you to pray? What are you learning about yourself? What resonates with you? What do you find difficult or troubling about prayer? What would you like to learn more about? How is your relationship with God shaped by prayer?

This is an opportunity for us to engage in an honest conversation around something essential to the life of faith and yet so incredibly difficult for many—probably most.  In the opening chapter, Martin lists ten reasons believers don’t pray. We can easily recognize ourselves in his list. And I’m sure we can come with ten more. We need to remember that no one is an expert prayer (including your pastors).  We are always novices in the school of prayer. And that’s okay. We can learn together.

Here are the days and times we have set up for October and November. Zoom links will shared before each session.

Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m.
(outdoors at CPC or via Zoom)

October 10, 24 and November 7, 21

Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m.
(via Zoom)

October 5, 19 and November 2, 16, 30

Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m.
(outdoors at CPC or via Zoom)

October 7, 21 and November 4, 18