Sunday, July 12, 2009

Needing to practice some contemplation? Try one or more of the following exercises this week...and enjoy the solitude and silence of simply "being" with God.

Exercises in the Contemplative Tradition

  1. Pray for ten minutes each morning or evening.
  2. Pray without words (in silence) for five to ten minutes each day.
  3. Offer a short prayer throughout the day (for example, the hesychastic prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner” or the verse “Create in me a clean heart, O God and put a new and right spirit within me” [Ps. 51:10]).
  4. Read a section from a devotional book, such as a spiritual classic like St. Augustine’s Confessions, or it may be a devotional classic such as Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest. Devotional periodicals such as Guideposts or The Upper Room (or some other publication) may interest you. Discover God in the reading.
  5. Write out a prayer in your journal. You may wish to keep it private, or you may wish to share it. Write the letter as if it were addressed to God, telling Him your hopes and dreams, your worries, your needs.
  6. Learn to appreciate God through his creation. Take a walk in a park or simply sit and watch a sunset. Consider the majesty of the world, giving thanks and praise for all of God’s creation.
  7. Set aside fifteen minutes for a time of thanksgiving. Thank God for everything you can think of. Do not worry about intercession or confession; this is simply a time to give thanks.
  8. Practice the art of listening to God. Meditate on a verse of Scripture, being attentive to what God wants to tell you. Note the words in the verse. Does anything stand out? Turn the verse into a prayer. Ask God to teach you during this time of silence.
  9. Hold people and situations before God in prayer. Take ten minutes a day to bring your friends and loved ones before God. Do not worry about words; simply imagine Jesus standing beside them before the throne of grace. Let God minister to all of their cares and hurts.
  10. Try “flash prayers.” When you see someone—anyone—silently pray for that person. Riding on a bus, standing in a line, sitting in a room—wherever you are, inwardly ask God to give those around you joy, to touch their lives with his presence.

Smith, James Bryan. A Spiritual Formation Workbook: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth. A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1993. (pp. 87-88)

Thursday, July 9, 2009


"In a noise-polluted world, it is even difficult to hear ourselves think let along try to be still and know God. Yet it seems essential for our spiritual life to seek some silence, no matter how busy we may be. Silence is not to be shunned as empty space, but to be befriended as fertile ground for intimacy with God" --Susan Muto

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." ~ John 7:37b-38 (NIV)

I am departing from the lectionary for the remainder of the summer to explore deeply the Spiritual Discipline Streams, based on Richard Foster's work.

So this week we will focus on Contemplation - The Prayer-Filled Life. Living a life of loving attention to God - through which we experience the divine rest that overcomes our alienation. I think we all need a little (or a lot of rest). Can you imagine your life if you took just a few minutes out of your day to be still... surrounded by silence... alone. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a little bit of heaven on earth.

Be still and encouragement for all of us, including me, today.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Covet vs. Contentment

Why is it that I always want more than I have or something different than I have? Why is contentment so hard to find and once you find it, so hard to keep? Temptation always seems to be lurking, ready to lunge at every turn.

This is one of the sins that I struggle with greatly and seemingly all the time. Does anyone have a secret for contentment?

Of course the answer is in front of me all the time - be grateful for what the Lord has blessed me with. I guess coveting is one of the many traps that I fall into when I take my eyes, my heart, my mind off of Him.

Oh Lord, help me to spend time with you everyday and to allow you to remind me how much I always have to be grateful for.