Posted: March 29, 2023
“Happy are those whom you choose, whom you bring to live in your sanctuary…” (Psalm 65:4, Good News Translation).
The “pause for prayer” at the Mennonite church of ChâtenayMalabry (Paris, France) was created in March 2021as part of the journey towards Easter in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initiated by our former pastor, Silvie Hege, it took the form of a weekly one-hour meeting by Zoom during the lunch break, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The online gathering was to be held every Friday of the Lenten period and to end once Easter arrived.
Time for a break
This time was an opportunity to take a break in our day and in our week, to come and be refreshed/filled by the Spirit, a time to walk with Jesus. It was a time of fasting for those who wished to do so, a time set apart for ourselves, a time of sharing, a prayer break that really allowed us to feel close to Jesus in this moment and close to each other, united by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Once Easter 2021 was over, it was impossible for us to end this divine rendez-vous, this weekly meeting with the Father who does us so much good.
It is at this point that I took on the responsibility of leading this time of prayer that has continued to this day – even during vacations – with participants taking turns leading if necessary.
Although the day has been changed from Friday to Wednesday for reasons of convenience, we have kept the original principle: to spend a lunch break together (that lasts on the average an hour and 15 minutes) to be with our Lord, to rest in God’s holy presence and to stand in the breach1 .
Praise, adoration and rendering thanks
During our meetings, the reading of at least one Bible passage allows us to contemplate our God and to pray on the basis of God’s Word. We then praise and adore God, giving thanks and interceding for the world, for the subjects of prayer shared in our church at Châtenay-Malabry and in this prayer cell.
Every member of the church is welcome. The connection link is shared every week through the different communication channels of the church. The number of participants is not large, but the blessings of God are overwhelming. We have seen a great many prayers answered.
There is a small number of people who are faithful to the meetings, making it a privileged place where trust is built up/ established, allowing us to speak about prayer subjects that cannot always be shared with the entire congregation on Sunday.
Occasionally, we have had the joy of the unexpected presence of a person whom the Holy Spirit has led to connect, and this, at times, sometimes in a very unique way.
This “pause” has allowed us to see so many answers and so many signs from God that it has reinforced the idea that he is present with us during this time.
Each meeting has been a genuine moment of renewal. Be it 2, 4 or 6 people connected, we feel privileged to be able to participate in this time of prayer as it is written in Psalm 65:4.
A burden that became a benefit
The idea of this prayer time, meeting via Zoom, would probably not have seen the light of day without COVID-19. A structure that could have initially been considered a burden or a limitation has turned out to be a real asset because we can participate from wherever we are: from home, from the office, from vacation spots, with the only condition being access to an internet connection. God truly does make all things work together for the good of those who love him.
Other than the worship service, this prayer break is the only weekly meeting in our church. We truly give glory to God for this additional opportunity for fellowship and for all that we have been able to experience through these blessed times since the very beginning.
The challenges are great but we want to keep standing in the breach so that the Lord may act among the nations, in our lives, in all the situations that come upon us, so that we may see the manifestation of God’s glory.
—Nicole Djuissi is a member of the pastoral team, the leader of the online prayer meeting and also head of a house group. She is employed as a digital project manager, and the mother of two children ages 13 and 17.
1Psalm 106 :23; Ezekiel 22:30, Isaiah 11-12