Communal, Charismatic Prayer

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Not the biggest fan of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, but his March 2019 newsletter had some gems about the uniqueness and importance of communal, “charismatic” prayer:

In the Charismatic Renewal, prayer manifests itself in a new form compared to the past: that of a prayer in-group or a group prayer. By taking part in them one understands what the Apostle meant when he wrote to the Ephesians: ‘Be filled with the Spirit. Sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs among yourselves, singing and chanting to the Lord in your hearts, always and everywhere giving thanks to God who is our Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ And again: ‘In all your prayer and entreaty keep praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion.’

We only know two basic types of prayer: liturgical prayer and private prayer. Liturgical prayer is a communal one, but it is not spontaneous; private prayer is spontaneous but is not communal. We need moments in which we can pray spontaneously, as the Spirit dictates, but sharing our own prayer with others, putting together the various gifts and charisms and enriching each other with our fervor; putting together the different ‘tongues of fire’ to form a single flame. In short, we need a prayer that is both spontaneous and communal.

We have a great example of this ‘charismatic’ prayer, both spontaneous and communal, in Acts 4. Peter and John, freed from prison with the order to no longer speak in the name of Jesus, return to their community and begin to pray. One proclaims a word of Scripture (‘Princes plot together against the Lord and against his Anointed’), another has the prophetic gift of applying the word to the situation of the moment; there is like an ‘uprising’ of faith that gives the courage to ask for ‘healings, signs and wonders.’ In the end what happened at the first Pentecost takes place again and ‘all were filled with the Holy Spirit’ and continue to preach Christ ‘with honesty.’

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