At their heart, quiet days are about finding time apart to feed the soul and spend time with God. We’ve developed a Meeting Jesus Quiet Day for your use, although this is meant to be modified for the contextual needs of the people gathered. This quiet day is designed so that each session can be the responsibility of a different person, or the sessions may all run by the same person. While this curriculum strives to be as user-friendly and low-cost as possible, it’s important to start making preparations well in advance.
Here is the recommended Meeting Jesus Quiet Day Schedule. Please know that this schedule can be modified to meet your needs.
Because Meeting Jesus is a gift of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a monastic order in the Episcopal church, we recommend using the Daily Office for morning and noonday prayer. You may or may not choose to have music, although the words are quite sufficient.
You can follow the office and daily Eucharist lectionary, choose your own from the Meeting Jesus prayer journal or use these recommended readings:
1 John 4:7-21 (God is Love)
John 1:1-17 (Prelude)
John 15:5-11 (I am the Vine)
Eucharist (or Evening Prayer):
1 John 3:18-24 (Love in truth and action)
John 10:11-18 (I am the Good Shepherd)
Quiet Day Lunch Instructions:
You have several options about how to approach lunch and how quiet your Quiet Day will be.
- Silent lunch. You can play music or allow people to spread out and eat silently.
- Talking lunch. People are invited to talk as they wish.
- Combination (recommended). Silence can be difficult for some people, but welcomed by others who are seeking a real day away. If you are eating lunch at tables, put signs on several tables inviting participants to eat silently, but allow others to talk at non-silent tables.
Session One: How do we meet Jesus?
Length: 60 minutes
Materials Needed: Prepared remarks by a spiritual leader (lay or ordained), notebooks/paper and writing utensils for all participants, bell for the end of the session.
Learning Objectives: Participants will be oriented to their Quiet Day, and begin to reflect on how they meet Jesus in their own life.
Open your Meeting Jesus Quiet Day with orienting remarks about the schedule for the day, information participants need to know (like location of rest rooms) and expectations around keeping a posture of prayer through the day. Introduce and invite the presenter to come forward.
The presenter offers a 10-15 minute reflection on how we meet Jesus in our lives, which may or may not be scripturally based. This session should be concluded with some reflection questions for individuals as they enter into the quiet for the remainder of the hour. Invite participants to move around and find a comfortable place to reflect. They are invited to write as they reflect, but are not required to do so.
Recommended questions for individual reflection:
- How did you meet Jesus?
- Where is Jesus showing up now, and how is Jesus calling you into deeper relationship?
- Where are you avoiding Jesus in your life?
Bring the session to an end by ringing a bell. Invite participants to take a short comfort break.
Session Two: Meeting Jesus in Scripture
Length: 60 minutes
Materials Needed: Prepared remarks by a lay or ordained spiritual leader, bibles or printed passages for every participant.
Learning Objectives: Participants learn new ways to pray with Scripture, and take time to pray with scripture.
There are many ways to pray with Scripture. Ask your session leader to lead participants through two or three different types of praying with scripture, and then allowing time for the prayer to take place.
Here are some ways to pray with Scripture:
- Lectio Divina
- Gospel Contemplation/Imaginative Prayer (Ignatian Prayer)
- Scripture as mantra in contemplative prayer
- Scripture meditation on a short passage or verse
- Using psalms to pray
Which scripture is used for praying is up to the session leader; she may find inspiration in Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John prayer journal, which has over forty quotes from the Gospel of John and the Johannine letters.
Session Three: Meeting Jesus in Prayer
Length: 75 minutes
Materials Needed: Please see individual prayer station needs below.
Learning objectives: Participants will spend time in prayer and learn new ways to pray through prayer stations.
Instead of a talk and then quiet time to reflect, this session is focused on prayers stations. Prayer stations should be set up while participants are at lunch, or previously if the prayer stations can be set up in a different area.
Here we have recommended nine different types of prayer stations. However, a quick online search will reveal hundreds of additional ideas, so you can get creative and meet your contextual needs. We recommend setting up between 6-8 prayer stations so that participants have time to prayerfully interact at each station. If you need to stretch out the length of your quiet day, you can easily lengthen this session.
The instructions for each prayer station should be printed and displayed so participants know how to interact with each station.
Keeping hands busy can open up the mind to experience God.
Items needed: colored pencils, adult prayer coloring sheets (many of these can be found and downloaded online for free or purchased in book form)
Instructions: Select a prayer sheet. Take time to create something beautiful. As you allow your hands to be busy, let your mind become still.
Alternative option: Download and print (or purchase) huge coloring posters at https://www.illustratedchildrensministry.com that can be colored by the group together.
Icons are more than just beautiful pictures, but powerful vehicles for contemplation.
Items needed: Candles, pillows for comfortable viewing, icon stands, icons. This station may be set up on the floor in a darkened corner. Some clergy or lay people have small icon collections that you can borrow or put together for this prayer station. Hand-written (icons are considered to be written, not painted) icons are the best, but reproductions can also be powerful. A few large icons are better than many small ones.
Instructions: For some Christians, icons aren’t just pictures, but “windows to heaven,” or “theology in color.” Icons aren’t meant to be exact replicas of what a person looked like, but rather a spiritual portrait that points beyond itself into the divine. Be seated comfortably and take time to gaze at the icons, allowing the longings of your heart to come forward.
Labyrinths are an ancient way of engaging your whole body in contemplative prayer. If possible, obtain a full-size, indoor walking labyrinth and set it up in the worship space. Many cathedrals have labyrinths that may be loaned out to groups.
Items needed: Labyrinth
Instructions: This labyrinth represents your walk with God. Please walk contemplatively, and try to keep your mind open. You can also stop along your journey and pray. If you get distracted, focus on your breath or body movements.
Alternative option: Make copies of a finger labyrinth for each participant, templates for which can be found at www.labyrinthsociety.org. The Chartres Labyrinth drawing works especially well. If you use this, please include credits on the bottom of the page. You may also be able to find a few “desk labyrinths” for use at this prayer station.
Lighting Votive Candles:
This prayer station is about intercessory prayer.
Items needed: 4-5 tea lights or votive candles per participant, or collection of candles of various sizes and shapes for visual interest. Tapers for lighting other candles. A tiered votive stand is ideal, but not necessary. A flame-resistant table (you may consider a glass or plexiglass cover for a wooden table) or side altar will do.
Instructions: Take time to pray for loved ones or people who are on your heart and mind. As you pray for them, light a candle. You can pray for healing, or peace, or any other petition on behalf of another person. This is called intercessory prayer.
In this prayer station, participants are encouraged to pray for current events in intercessory prayer.
Items needed: Current newspaper, highlighters
Instructions: Please look through this newspaper until something catches your attention. Take a few minutes to sit and offer up prayers to God on behalf of the people in the newspaper. When you are finished, take the highlighter and highlight the people or situation you have prayed for. Leave the newspaper here for other participants to pray through.
Participants are encouraged to articulate and share where they have met Jesus in their own life. After the prayer stations are over, someone should take a photo of this station, as it can be posted online or in communications updates.
Items needed: Blank wall or portable chalkboard/white board that has a sign or writing that says, “I’ve met Jesus…”, post-it notes (the end result will look better if the color palate is similar)
Instructions: Take some time to think about where you’ve met Jesus in your life. How have you met Jesus? Where have you met Jesus? Through whom have you met Jesus? Answer these questions on sticky notes and post them to the (board/wall). As you do so, give thanks to God. Use as many sticky notes as you like.
This prayer station engages the mind as well as the heart through poetry.
Items needed: many sheets of paper, pens/pencils
Instructions: Poetry about and to God is as old as Miriam’s song after her deliverance from Pharaoh’s army. Take time to write a poem in whatever form you like. You can leave it here anonymously, or take it with you. No one needs to see it if you don’t want to share it — the important part is the time spent with God.
In this prayer station, participants will engage with repetitive and tactile prayer.
Note: There are many types of prayer beads. The printed prayers provided are for Anglican prayer beads, not the traditional Catholic Rosary. Either set is fine; however, the beads should match the recommended prayers.
Items needed: several sets of prayer beads, printed prayers. (You can find many options for printed prayers online, but here is a simple, pre-made handout with instructions)
Instructions: Please use these beads to guide your prayer. You can find recommended sets of prayers printed on the handout. After you pray each prayer, move to the next bead.
Alternative option: Set up a prayer-bead making station and encourage participants to make their own set of prayer beads.
Writing the Word:
The Gospel of John teaches us that Jesus is the Word of God. Participants physically write out the scripture and embody it in a new way.
Items needed: Pens, long pieces of paper, two bibles (perhaps three if you have a large number of participants)
Instructions: For hundreds and hundreds of years, scripture was transmitted by hand-written copying, which itself was a spiritual discipline. One bible is open to John 1, the other to John 14. Begin to copy the scripture by hand. Copy as much as you like, and stop when you are done. The next participant should begin where you left off. After you are finished, reflect on the experience and give thanks for the Word of God.
Session Four: Meeting Jesus in Your Neighbor
Length: 60 minutes
Materials Needed: Someone to prepare the group exercises and run the session, newsprint, markers, pens and paper.
Learning objectives: Participants will witness to the presence of God in their life to one another, and participants will pray for one another.
Activity: Listening to One Another
Time allotment: 40 minutes
Materials needed: Paper/pens (optional)
We don’t often get to tell our stories. Ask the participants to think about a time when they felt God’s presence in their lives, and give them three or four minutes to do so. They may wish to jot their thoughts down on paper as they will be sharing these stories.
Ask participants to break into groups of three and tell their stories to one another. Let participants know when the next person should be talking (each person should have 7-8 minutes.)
Bring participants back together to reflect on the experience and ask where they heard about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit working in the world.
Activity: Praying for One Another
Time allotment: 20 minutes
Materials needed: Newsprint, marker
Improvisational prayer is very difficult for many Episcopalians. In this exercise, participants learn to pray for one another.
Explain that there is an easy way to pray for anything. It’s like praying Mad Libs. On a board/newsprint, write:
Dear God of _______________ (noun),
You _____________(describe God).
We pray/give you thanks for _____________________.
So that ____________________.
Have participants stand up two lines, facing one another, about an arm’s length apart. Designate the one side to pray for the other. The praying side should ask the other person’s name, and what they would like to be prayed for. The prayer should pray out loud for that person. After about 60 seconds, one side remains where they are, and the other side moves down one person, and the last person shifts to the front of the line. Do this several times. After 5-6 turns, flip roles. The prayers becomes the ones being prayed for.
At the end of the exercise, ask participants to volunteer thoughts and feelings about their experience.
At the end of this session, orient participants to the concluding worship.