Deep listening encourages and honors each person’s experience. In order to bring the same kind of attention to our spiritual conversations that we bring to contemplative prayer we may need to learn a new way of speaking and listening.  Clear guidelines for spiritual discussions in small groups can help us to create a safe environment and honor the nature of what is being said as we talk about the life of the spirit. Your prayer group may want to review and agree to Contemplative Outreach’s "Suggested Guidelines for Sharing in Small Prayer Groups" at your first meeting. Your group might also add other guidelines that reflect the specific needs and agreed-upon customs of your community. A regular review of the guidelines can be helpful.

Contemplative Outreach Suggested Guidelines
for Sharing in Small Prayer Groups

We accept one another as we are.

We do not give advice.

We do not criticize what others share.

We listen attentively and without interruption when someone else is speaking.

We keep our sharing in the group absolutely confidential.

We share experiences from our own lives, not abstract ideas. (use "I" statements)

We gather in care, not to cure or remove the crisis or pain, God does the healing.

We decide among ourselves how much time we will devote to sharing, making sure that each person will have a chance to speak.

We are always free to remain silent if we wish.

For more on the Contemplative Outreach Suggested Guidelines
for Sharing in Small Prayer Groups, visit the main Contemplative Outreach website.

For an example of a set of guidelines that has been customized to reflect the specific needs and customs of a particular community, visit Spirituality for Questioning Minds.