Prayer, particularly the listening side of prayer, was at the heart of Annual Conference 2015. In preparation for Annual Conference Session, all voting members were given a copy of Reuben Job’s book Listen: Praying in a Noisy World. The book is structured as a 40-day experience created to offer help to those new to prayer, those with a daily prayer routine, and those whose lives seem too busy to pray.
The book puts a focus on listening prayer and prayer as a two-way conversation. People were encouraged to work through the book for five weeks in advance of Annual Conference Session, doing the daily devotional readings, scriptures and prayer practices. Some churches used the book for small-groups. The Annual Conference staff meet on Fridays during the lunch hour for discussions and prayer.
At 1:30 p.m. the day before, the Annual Conference leaders met in the prayer area, just outside of the convention center floor, to have a pause from preparation for a time of prayer. Director of Connectional Ministries Sherry Habben opened by referring to Isaiah 30, verse 15, which states that in quietness and trust is strength.
“God is aware of where we are, and what we are doing,” Habben said. She mentioned different types of quietness, including an internal quiet in which people set aside the fears and concerns in their hearts, and trust God.
Rev. Jenn Klein reminded the group how when Jesus was brought the adulteress for stoning, he just quietly knelt down and drew in the dirt before he spoke to anyone. She led the group in a time of quietness, and then let them share comments by writing on a prayer wall covered with newspapers.
She also encouraged people to take a smooth prayer stone with a cross painted on it, and when amid chaos and confusion, to stop and draw a circle or trace the outline of the cross on the stone.