Thursday, May 14, 2009

Resting Prayer

Last night Jason Nelson, from Third Church's staff joined our group to discuss Contemplative Prayer. He did a great job! He had several handouts but began by discussing how contemplative prayer at its core is a journey of denying your "self" to become unified, united and whole with Jesus Christ and our one true and loving God. It is a life of surrender as a person increasingly seeks to abide in the Lord.

Jesus set the example in John 14:10-11 "Don't you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe in the evidence of the miracles themselves..."

We focused a lot on resting prayer and began with Psalm 131 "I have calmed and quieted my soul...hope in the Lord from this time on and fore ever more." We become quiet within and recognize that my worries can't do much... Silence, however long, is like a holy stop, a sabbatical rest, a truce of worries...

Twenty minutes a day! That's all it takes to change your life. Here are some steps to take to get into silent prayer...
1. Figure out how long you are going to pray!
2. Sit alone in silence.
3. Get in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
4. Relax your breathing, and with your imagination direct your mind from the head into the heart.
5. Try to regulate your breathing for a moment in rhythmic breathing because it disperses distracting thoughts.
6. Pray the Jesus Prayer. While inhaling, say "Lord Jesus Christ" as you exhale continue with "have mercy on me" You may say it out loud or in your mind...
7. Continue until you relax. Allow God's peace to settle over you and rest your mind. When distracting thoughts enter your mind (AND THEY WILL!), set them aside...
8. Be patient and peaceful and repeat the process as needed in bringing yourself to silence and rest.
9. As you quiet down and go deeper, you may reach a place where you have no awareness of thoughts. This is like an open space where you are so intimately connected with the Lord that you experience complete rest in God and are not aware of anything but him. This is where silent prayer becomes resting prayer.

I will be honest. We practiced a little last night and it was difficult. My mind was racing with thoughts from the day, what I was going to do next, who I needed to talk to...where I needed to go... But for a short while, it worked and I did feel closer to God and to Jesus. I think it is something I am going to continue to try and hope you do too...

1 comment:

Lorraine-bo said...

Those are great tips. I have been learning over the past few years that being able to focus on resting and pray takes practice (as strange as that sounds) ... but like with other things in life, if you want to become good at something or get to the point that it feels like second nature, you have to practice! Thankfully we have the Lord helping us in it!