I am eagerly looking forward to launching an online class based on Live Prayerfully on Monday, October 7. The four-week class will be a helpful experience for everyone who participates, as we will each dig into the chapters of the book together through discussion online, experience the three ways of praying described in the book by experimenting with them in our own lives, and be encouraged by reading the thoughts and comments of our fellow participants as we all do the same things together. In talking about the class with a few folks, I thought an FAQ section might be helpful (if I left anything out, please let me know in the comments):
Will there be any tests?
No tests, papers, or grades. Perhaps I should find a better term than "class" to get rid of the academic associations that come to mind for many of us, but I haven't thought of anything that fits better yet. It will consist of reading the chapters in Live Prayerfully, practicing prayer in the ways described there, and then processing our experiences together through online discussion.
Do I have to be online at any certain times?
No, you can participate according to your own schedule. Since the class consists of online discussion, when you will log in and participate is completely up to you. The only effect that time will have on the class is that the topics we discuss will change by week.
Will there be any videos to watch?
No–just reading the book and discussing it online.
How much work will it be?
One of the things I have tried to emphasize in the book is that learning to live prayerfully isn't something that is burdensome and adds a lot to our schedules and to-do lists. Rather, many of us already pray in some way, and I don't think it takes any more time to pray in the three ways we'll explore together than it does to pray in just one of them. So, experimenting with the ways of praying in the book will be the majority of the "work" for the class. The only other expectations are that you will read the chapter we are discussing each week, respond to one discussion question, and reply at least once to someone else in the group.
Is it worth the money? Can't I get the same information through the book, without the extra cost of this class?
Up until now, my favorite setting for teaching on this content has been on retreats. I think this class will be just as helpful to everyone, with less expense and no need for anyone to travel.
While the chapters and prayer guides in Live Prayerfully are the main content that we'll look at together, the book alone can't provide a couple of things which this class can: First, covering the chapters according to a week-by-week schedule makes it much more likely that we will practice prayer in the ways described. (I've read a lot of books which had suggestions I liked, but never really tried. This format will help us overcome that tendency.)
Second, connecting with others who are seeking to connect with God is indispensable, and an online class is a great way for people to help one another make progress in our lives with God. I really enjoy the dynamics of online discussion. In a traditional classroom, a few students usually make the large majority of the comments and questions, but in an online class everyone's voice is equalized. I became convinced of this while doing some of my graduate studies online, where I thoroughly enjoyed the community that developed between us as classmates even though we had never met face to face.
And, of course, if anyone goes through the class and concludes that it really wasn't worth the $35, I'll be glad to refund their cost.
How does payment work? Isn't it unsafe to pay for things like this online?
All of the payment is handled through PayPal, which is the world leader in processing online payments. Whenever someone clicks the button or link to register, they are taken to a secure PayPal site, where they can either pay using a credit/debit card or a PayPal account.
Have other people found this helpful?
This is my first attempt at doing this class in an online format, but it has previously worked well in retreats and church classes. Here is one of my favorite comments from a past participant:
“I took the class at a time when I was in a spiritual slump. The class gave me tools and guided me into a renewed prayer life that got me out of the slump and, over a year later, still has me going and growing.”
What are you going to do with my personal information?
I will need participants' names and email addresses, which is the only information I will collect. I'll never give that information away to anyone else, and the only reason I will ever use it would be to follow up on the class. As far as anything said in the online discussions, the site is password protected and invisible as far as cyberspace goes, so no one will ever find it on an internet search, etc.
Okay, count me in. What do I need to do next?
Registration is $35, and you can register now by clicking here. Registration will close on September 30 or when the spots are filled. I will then contact everyone participating with the details of how to log in to the class, which will begin on October 7 and end on November 3.