McGuire Memorial Awakening Spiritual Dimensions:
Prayer Services with Persons with Severe Disabilities
“It is within our hearts that the Spirit of God’s love and power is discovered. This is true especially when we refer to the spiritual and prayer life of people who have severe disabilities. It is within their hearts that the Spirit of God lives and is awakened. But then the question may arise, “How does one awaken within the heart of the person who is severely disabled the presence of God’s life, God’s love and God’s power?” This awakening can take place when able-bodied people and people who are not so able gather as friends to pray in a simple, prayerful, and structured setting, in order to bring about a sense of the sacred.”
“Awakening Spiritual Dimensions is another attempt to meet the spiritual needs of those who have severe disabilities by using an approach that is very simple, somewhat contemplative and sensory-based. It is a simple program with a simple format. When used correctly, God’s presence comes alive. God’s peaceful presence is felt, experienced and celebrated.
Typical children and adults learn through a more cognitive approach. They use their reasoning powers, i.e. question and answer, discussion and deduction. Awakening Spiritual Dimensions with its sensory-based and contemplative approach attempts to awaken the Spirit of God within the hearts of those who participate in the program by having its participants tap their ability to intuit the reality of God’s presence.”
“Persons who have severe mental and physical challenges have educational, medical, physical, social, and emotional needs. We must assume that they also have spiritual needs, a need for an experience of the presence and love of God. Awakening Spiritual Dimension attempts to meet these spiritual needs in two ways: First, with Relationships that form Christian community, and secondly, by having this community celebrate a simple, planned Prayer experience, a “sacred flow” of worship using affective means, e.g. symbol, to awaken and evoke a sense of the sacred - an intuitive knowledge of God.”
“Within this “sacred flow” of worship we use peace-filled sounds of music as background, gentle touch, hearing and listening, and the other senses. In an affective venture, we are enabled to celebrate and intuit God’s loving, nourishing, compassionate, and healing presence. It leaves us not only in His Presence, but also in His Peace. The reality of God and God’s Son, the Person of Jesus Christ, is not learned in a cognitive way, but rather through a journey of intuiting and experiencing a sense of the sacred, which is, God’s presence of love and power.”