My bus drops me off about 1.25 miles from my school, so I have a little bit of a walk. I love this walk. It affords me the opportunity to feel my city, I encounter some of its people, walk by some of the places where people work, I get my coffee from one of […]
Posts Tagged ‘ prayer ’
On the first(1st) Sunday of each month Quest piles into a home to celebrate communion while sharing a meal.
This is a beautiful time of being with God and each other. In the Bible we often see Jesus eating with friends, in fact he never turns down an opportunity to go to a party or break bread. We believe that eating together is an important aspect of commotional life. Even more importantly ‘The Meal’ is our intentional remembering of the death of Christ… his joyous sacrifice for us, and into which Jesus invites our participation.
The location of THE MEAL changes each month, please email Dwight for directions. First Sunday night of each month at 4:00-6:00 PM.
“Everything in God’s store is on the bottom shelf –
you have to get on your knees to get it.”
— Robert Collier
Anyone who has explored contemplative prayer or any other practice of intentional silence knows — or will soon know — about distractions. In the spirituality of silence, a distraction is any thought or image that enters consciousness, as a way of subtly (or not-so-subtly) distracting a person away from the silent meditative state, and back into the “surface drama” of the ego.
Distractions are frustrating. Here I am, trying to center my body and calm my mind and open up my heart and soul to the loving presence of God. And like having a picnic spoiled by ants, so nothing seems to be worse than having my silent time spoiled by all of my unruly thoughts!
Distractions can take many forms. Often they show up as worries or “shoulds” (“Gee, I better remember to send Mom her birthday card” or “Why am I sitting her meditating when I should be out there running? Gosh, I need to lose weight!”). Another common distraction is the excited thought, especially when something wonderful is going on in your life (“Oh, I didn’t think that cute guy I met at the food co-op would ever call, but he did last night — now what will I wear when I go out with him!”). And of course, distractions don’t have to be particularly dramatic or significant, they can be as humdrum and normal as thinking about your laundry or your dirty dishes!
The big challenge about distractions is that they tempt us to resist them–but that only increases their power. Like Br’er Rabbit fighting the Tar Baby, the more we resist our thoughts and imagination during contemplation, the more enmeshed in the ego mind we become. Even though they seem to spoil our silence and our time alone in meditation, our distractions will not go away through willful resistance. The only way to deal with distractions is to befriend them, and then let them go!
1. Befriend the distractions. Do not make them “w
rong.” Trust your ego, your surface mind, to be part of you and therefore your ally, not your enemy! When you are filled with distracting thoughts during silent prayer, it does not mean that you are “lazy” or “undisciplined.” It may mean that you need to get more sleep, or you need to share a thorny problem with your therapist, or simply that you need to take care of a chore you’ve been putting off! Trust your ego to share important information with you, don’t turn contemplation into a struggle between the “silent” you and the “talkative” you!
2. Let them go. The best way to do this is to have a notepad and pencil handy. That way you can make an agreement with yourself, that if you should happen to think of something so important that it must be documented, you have the means to do it. Then you can quickly make a note to yourself, and resume your breathing and sitting in silent, relaxed attentiveness. Of course, having the paper and pencil handy usually is all it takes for you to recognize that most of your distractions can simply be gently laid aside in your mind, with no repercussions whatsoever. Contemplative prayer actually helps the mind to function more efficiently, so a meditative state makes you less forgetful–all the more reason to let go of distractions, trusting your mind to remember what needs to be remembered.
Do not fight your mind doing what comes naturally. Simply allow thoughts and images to rise in your mind…. And then dissipate, returning you into the deeper silence. Remember, the purpose behind contemplative prayer is to rest in the presence of the loving Divine, not to “prove anything” to anyone. God loves a busy mind as much as God loves a still, calm mind. The important thing is to be there, sharing your mind with the mind of God. Your mind is not perfect, and so your prayer will never be perfect either.
One of the Spanish Carmelites — I can’t remember if it was Teresa of Avila or John of the Cross — once said that if a person is distracted 100 times during prayer, that’s 100 opportunities to show God our love by turning away from the distraction and back to the presence of the Divine. Remember this, and be gentle with yourself as you pray.
“I have learned that prayer is not asking for what you think you want
but asking to be changed in ways that you can’t imagine.”
— Kathleen Norris
One of the most common obstacles to developing a daily practice of contemplative prayer is the simple reality that most of us face: we’re too busy. Career, family, church or other spiritual communities, and various other commitments keep us on the go — sometimes eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. This constant rush rush rush is in itself a spiritual problem — we’re too busy doing to allow time for living — but one of the most obvious ways in which the busy-ness manifests as a problem is that it prevents us from praying, or meditating, or journaling, or any other healthy spiritual practice. Just as we eat too fast, not chewing our food properly and suffering from indigestion, so if we pray at all, we pray “on the run” and suffer from the “spiritual indigestion” of a sense of not being centered — in God, or in life.
How do we reverse this trend? How do we dig ourselves out from this hole that the hectic pace of postmodern living keeps us trapped in? How do we find time for the silence of contemplative prayer? Naturally, I cannot come up with a magic formula that will help every person become fully-fledged contemplatives — but I do have an idea that has proved useful for me, and I hope you will find it useful as well. The idea is what I call guerilla silence.
Guerilla silence means the practice of taking stolen moments, odd moments during the day, and consecrating them to God. If life seems to be too busy to take even ten minutes for contemplative practice, we in all likelihood can still find a minute here (at a traffic light) or two minutes there (while on hold on the telephone) — not perfect situations for deep, disciplined meditation, but perfectly useful times to remind ourselves that silence — the silence where we encounter the Sacred — is not something outside of ourselves, but truly something that wells up from deep within ourselves.
Here’s an exercise to try to “massage” your busy day, so that moments of silence can creep in:
- Take a few quiet moments — perhaps early in the morning, or just before bed. Sit with pen and paper, and say a short prayer, consecrating these moments to the Divine.
- Think of three or four common times during the day when you are waiting — stuck in traffic, waiting for a bus, waiting for the microwave to stop, or whatever. Write down when those moments occur in your life.
- Write an affirmation. Use the following one, or come up with one in your own words. You may wish to make several copies of this affirmation, one for the dashboard of your car, one for your bathroom mirror, etc. “I allow the times during the day when I am waiting, or interrupted, or on hold, to be given to God — in silence, in openness, and in trust.”
- Every morning, read the affirmation to yourself, and remind yourself of the times during the day when you will likely have a few “stolen moments” to give to the silence. At the end of each day, read the affirmation again, and review the day, celebrating the times you allowed silence to enter into your busy schedule.
Of course, there’s still the issue of the poorly chewed food. Guerilla silence is a transitional strategy for developing a discipline of contemplative prayer. The sad truth is that when we’re “too busy” to pray, what we’re not willing to admit to ourselves that prayer has not yet become a high priority in our lives. Often, a life too busy to pray may have time tied up in watching silly television shows, or flipping aimlessly through catalogs, or some other activity which might be let go of — once we feel truly, deeply drawn to the silence. Guerilla silence is a way to “get to know” silence, to discover the treasures of Divine love that wait for each of us there.
The good news is this: if we take the time to practice guerilla silence during those stolen and odd moments of the day, it’s amazing how quickly our lives open up — and we find that the ten or twenty minutes for disciplined silence is really available to us, after all!
“Every soul has a will capable of loving God.”
— St. Francis de Sales
Centering Prayer is a method of prayer, which prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence, often referred to as contemplative prayer. It consists of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God’s presence and action within. It furthers the development of contemplative prayer by quieting our faculties to cooperate with the gift of God’s presence.
Centering Prayer facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer verbal, mental or affective prayer into a receptive prayer of resting in God. It emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God. At the same time, it is a discipline to foster and serve this relationship by a regular, daily practice of prayer. It is Trinitarian in its source, Christ-centered in its focus, and ecclesial in its effects; that is, it builds communities of faith.
Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina, (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.. It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970’s by three Trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey,
St. Joseph‘s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.
“A single word even may be the spark of inextinguishable thought.”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
Christian Contemplative Prayer is the opening of mind and heart – our whole being – to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words and emotions, whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, thinking, feeling and choosing; even closer than consciousness itself. The root of all prayer is interior silence. Though we think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words, this is only one expression. Contemplative Prayer is a prayer of silence, an experience of God’s presence as the ground in which our being is rooted, the Source from whom our life emerges at every moment.
For the Church’s first sixteen centuries Contemplative Prayer was the goal of Christian spirituality. After the Reformation, this living tradition was virtually lost. Today, with cross-cultural dialogue and historical research, the recovery of the Christian contemplative heritage has begun. The method of Centering Prayer, in the tradition of Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures) is contributing to this renewal.
For a detailed listing of upcoming workshops, retreats or to set up an encounter for Spiritual Direction, please contact me.
“Many of the insights of the saint stem from his experience as a sinner.”
— Eric Hoffer
Prayer is talking with God, it is a dialogue of the soul.
But prayer is much more than words. It is an expression of your heart, mind and emotions toward God. It’s an experience, a relationship, not merely an activity. The goal of prayer is not to talk, rather to be with God.
Does it sound a little mystical good it is. Prayer may seem strange at first but most things do when you first try (remember learning to ride a bike or to use chop sticks how did it feel at first). So hang in there. It won’t take too long before talking with God will be like talking with a friend and it will become increasingly meaningful to you.
Can I really just talk with God, or do I need to get a book of prayers?
Yes you can simply talk with God as you talk with a trusted friend. God knows you and loves you, and He longs to hear from you. Talk with God honestly tell Him your hurts, and longings, your concerns and your joys. God is interested and listening.
Do I have to light candles and be in a church building to pray?
No. Prayer is talking with God. God is everywhere. So you can be at home, in your car, at work, in class. However, our physical envi
ronment does play an important role. Prayer can be challenging in an atmosphere filled with distractions. So for some people it can be helpful to find a quiet place.
However, our physical envi
Do I have to get down on my knees to pray?
No. The reason people often close their eyes and bow their heads is to cut down on distractions. Sometimes people get on their knees out of respect for God (it can be a good discipline but whatever your posture you have God’s attention). If you’re talking with God while driving, its best to stay off your knees and to keep your eyes open.
- Be Honest (God knows so don’t try to trick Him)
- Tell it to God Straight (God can handle your worst, and He is hoping that you’ll talk with Him about it)
- Don’t wait (When the feeling to pray hits you do it)
- Set aside specific times of the day to talk with God
- Writing a letter to God
- Write some poetry (Psalms in the Bible is a book of poetry written to God)
- Imagine God is sitting in an empty chair in your room, and talk to Him
- Pray with a trusted friend, or a small gathering of friends.
What do I include in my prayer?
Prayer is your unique communication with God there is no magic incantations or phases. If you’d like some guidance in getting started, I’d encourage you to consider the following prayer outline, its also an acronym (ACTS):
Adoration Take a moment to tell God what you value about Him, what you appreciate about His character this has been call worship or praise.
Confession Express again you dependence on God and you need for His forgiveness, God promises to forgive us. The more we begin to understand who God is the more we see our own short-comings, and our need for God.
Thanksgiving Spend some time focusing on people, things, experiences, events etc. you are thankful for and communicate those to God. You may wish to express your thanks to God for the forgiveness God just granted you.
Submit Requests What are the needs in your life relational, spiritual, financial, emotional, physical etc. God is interested in them all. Maybe you have some friends or family or maybe you’re aware of something that concerns you and you just want to talk with God. Its all good.
Take a look at things Jesus taught His followers to include when they pray, see Matthew 6.
A prayer God promises to answer, when sincerely offered:
I’m full of questions and I know I’m not perfect, I’ve “sinned” and I need your forgiveness. Help me learn to depend on You. I’d like to walk in your way as best as I can. Please make me more like Jesus.