Wrap Your Gift In Prayer
Parish Advent Program
Wrap your Gifts in Prayer
Unwrap the gift of God in Prayer. In the midst of Advent and Christmas busyness, we offer you a way to pray and to discover our God who is with us. Each season the preparation for gift giving can be a source of stress. This year can be different. Our Christmas practice of gift giving is intended to be a visible symbol of love and Christian service in action. Why not use our gift giving as a form of prayer? Wrapping your gift in prayer can add a spiritual dimension to an ordinary task.
Wrap Your Gift in Prayer
As you choose your gift, ask for God’s guidance and bring a prayerful awareness to the exchange. When you actually wrap your gift, whether in wrapping paper or in a gift bag, pray for the recipient. Ask God to fill them with light, love and the peace of Christmas. Cards and electronic greetings may also be wrapped in prayer.
Prayer Method Choices
- Imagine – visualize the person for whom you pray. Picture the Lord blessing them.
- Speak – pray out loud, “Lord surround (name) with your light, fill him/her with your peace.”
- Sing – a Christmas carol.
- Gesture – dedicate the use of your hand motions in wrapping as your prayer.
- Hear – simply repeat the person’s name knowing that the Lord hears our every word.
- Recite – a pre-written prayer, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Rosary…
- Act – reach out to someone in need of the gift of your care.
For difficult relationships pray: Lord bless (name) and transform me to set me free.
Sharing your Prayer with a Gift Tag
After wrapping your gift in prayer attach a gift tag that will be provided for you.
Witnessing to your prayer by means of a Gift Tag is like giving an additional gift because it may lead the receiver to become more aware of God’s presence in her or his own life.
Gift Prayer Tags are available at the doors of the church. Attach the Gift Prayer Tag to a gift, group of gifts or gift bag. You may also wish to duplicate the gift tag sheets on your own computer by visiting our website StPhilip.org.
Advent Week I
“Pray in the everyday. Pray the everyday” – Karl Rahner S.J.
Emmanuel is a Hebrew word that means: God is With Us
Our Advent practice of wrapping our gifts in prayer may lead us into a deeper experience of how very near the Lord is to us in every moment.
A new verse has been composed for the Hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and will be sung as part of the processional at the Eucharist during the Advent season.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
Deep within, as gift, your Spirit dwells.
With Advent’s dawning light, draw us near.
Teach us to love as peacemakers here.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
May This Our Gift Of Prayer, Your Glory Tell.
You are invited to use these words and familiar tune as part of your prayer and reflection.
Reflection Questions and Prayerful Activity
Carefully read each line of the Hymn Text.
1. How do these words apply to your life?
2. How is God with you in this Advent moment?
3. What can you do to become a peacemaker, at home, at work, in the world?
Advent Week II
“When I become conscious of God’s actions, no matter how dimly, then I am praying even if I do not say a word.”
– William Barry S.J.
Reflection on Gift Giving and Prayer
Gifts speak for us. Gifts reveal our thoughts and feelings; they communicate our friendship, love and gratitude. Gifts are freely given symbols that wrap our relationships in lasting bonds. Gifts when seen with the eyes of faith reveal God who is the Giver of all gifts.
Prayer is the gift that uncovers God’s thoughts, feelings, friendship and love for us. Prayer is the way that we express our gratitude to God. Prayer is a gift we give for each other that wraps our relationships with lasting bonds of God’s eternal grace. Prayer awakens the gifts of wisdom, encouragement, renewal and peace. Prayer is the way we unwrap and experience the gift of God in the here and now.
May this our gift of prayer, God’s Glory Tell.
Reflection Questions “A”
1. What areas of your life are causing you stress and possible grumpiness?
2. How is God inviting you to share your daily experiences in prayer?
3. What might you do to discover inner resources of spiritual understanding, wisdom, strength and hope?
4. What is your plan to prepare the way for the Lord this Advent?
5. What is your response to the advent invitation to Wrap Your Gifts in Prayer?
Reflection Questions and Activity “B”
1. What are some of the gifts in my life? Who is gift?
2. Speak to God about your gifts. Listen. What thoughts, feelings or ideas are present? Share with God.
3. What is God showing you through your gifts?
4. What is challenging or difficult in my life? Share this with God. What gifts from God may you need to help you with your life?
5. What one thing can you do to share one of your gifts with another person this week?
Advent Week III
“God is revealed even in the overlooked gifts of daily life such as the wonder of breathing, the delight of eating, the blessing of sleep. The littlest things in the everyday, beneath the wrapping of their simplicity, are infinite portals to the heart of the Creator.” – Karl Rahner, Belief Today. (Freely Adapted)
God desires to be in a close and personal relationship with us. Prayer unwraps God who is always with us. Prayer directs our attention to God who can be found in all things. The Spirit of God dwells within us; prayer is the inner journey to discover the gift of God within. St. Paul challenges us to rejoice in God’s presence in all circumstances, (1Thessalonians5:16). William S. Barry S. J. in his book Praying the Truth (2012), gives a simple definition of prayer:
“By prayer I mean what occurs when I am conscious in some way of God’s presence. Ignatius of Loyola is known for wanting to find God in all things – that is, to be able to do all things while, at the same time, being conscious of God’s presence. In other words, he wanted to be prayerful at all times. A tall order, you might say, but Ignatius believe that a person could come close to this with the help of God and by the regular practice of paying attention to what happens in daily life. He could hope for such a state because of his Christian belief that God, the Creator of the universe, is never absent from any part of this universe. Hence, whether we are aware of it or not, we are always in God’s presence no matter what we are doing. All that is required (for prayer) is that I am conscious of God’s presence and whatever activity I engage.”
Our Advent Program, Your Gift is Wrapped in Prayer is an opportunity for us to encounter God in our daily lives.
Reflection Questions and Activity
- When have I felt closest to God?
- What does God’s desire to be in a personal relationship with me mean? What does this invite me to do?
- What people, places or things awaken my awareness of God?
- The gifts in my life for which I am grateful are…Share your thoughts and feelings about these gifts with God.
- One way that I will share the gifts that God has given to me with another person this week is…
Advent Week IV
A Christmas Reflection
The famous Catholic actor of stage and screen, Helen Hayes, enjoyed telling the following story about her favorite Christmas dinner. Although a notoriously bad cook, she decided one year to prepare a Christmas dinner. “This is the first turkey I’ve ever cooked,” she warned her family. “If it isn’t right, I don’t want anyone to say a word. We’ll just get up from the table, without comment, and go to a hotel for dinner.” In a few minutes she returned to the dining room, where the family had expectantly settled around the table – wearing their hats and coats!
Although our gifts and talents vary, God bountifully gives us the gift of our lives to share with others. Whenever we reach out in love we are most like God. All is gift; even our desire to reach out in love and service to others is itself God’s gift.
At Christmas we celebrate Our Lord who chose to share our humanity so that we might share God’s divine love with one another. This Christmas we are invited to unwrap the gift of God in our lives through prayer. Prayer helps us to recognize our gifts and empowers us to share them with others.
Prayer is the key. Prayer enables us to unwrap the gift of love by sharing our thoughts, feelings and actions. The greatest Christmas gift we can give to another person is the gift of ourselves. In all of the holiday bustle some precious gifts to give are time, attention, and listening.
God’s love dwells within us and is reborn in our hearts this Christmas. May Our Lord open us to unwrap our love as a gift for others. Amen.
Reflection Questions and Activities
- What and who are God’s gifts to you? Give God thanks in prayer as the key to God’s love.
- Remember some key examples of how Christ shared his love? How does Christ share his love today?
- In what ways are you being called to turn the key of your mind, heart and will to love like Christ in action?
- The key gift is the gift of self. What one action can you take to give yourself as a gift to another?