STILLNESS AND PRAYER
I read through the Bible every year - Old Testament once, New Testament and Psalms twice. I have been doing this every year for the past 20 years. I use a Bible reading plan designed by Scottish pastor, Robert Murray Mc'Cheyne.
I read the assigned passages once. And then I go back and re-read one passage slowly and meditatively (usually a Psalm). Today, the first part of Psalm 36:7 jumped out at me:
"Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
(New International Version translation)
Quiet (or silence) and prayerfulness are essential tools for spiritual formation for the Christian. I find it hard to quiet my mind. There are too many conflicting and tumultuous voices fighting for my attention. Most of these thoughts are either focused on the past (which is finished) or the future (which is unwritten). I can reflect on the past and plan for the future, but I can LIVE in neither.
Past rumination and future fears rob us of joy and contentment in the present! We are not actually present to the present. Quieting down helps us to be grounded and present. This, in turn, lifts our mood and also makes us more helpful to the loved ones in our life.
The discipline of silence (quieting down) makes it then possible to be prayerful before God. The NIV says we are to "wait patiently for God". So, prayer is set within a context of patient waiting.
Patience is a challenging state for a human being to be in. Observation of a young child betrays the natural human inclination towards impatience. Our impatience is symptomatic of a mindset of entitlement and self-centeredness. To wait patiently before God is to renounce selfishness and place ourselves in a state of anticipation and hope.
The good news is our stillness and waiting is always rewarded. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ describes God as a Father in heaven who gives good gifts to those who ask him.
these all create the environment into which the Father can pour his good gifts into.
This week, I invite you to take time every day to quiet down and simply sit in God's presence. (If you do practice this, please message me how it went for you. I might incorporate your comments into a future post).
After taking a few cleansing deep breaths you can pray:
"Lord, I know you are here.
I know you are with me.
Quiet my mind so that I can sense the reality of your presence around and within me.
I sit here in the stillness
in a state of prayerfulness
in a state of anticipation.
As I wait, what do you have for me today?
What do you want me to learn?
Whatever it is, give me the grace to obey you.
If this is your first time doing this, start small - maybe 5 minutes.
Suggested verses for meditation:
I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians;
I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light
we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and
to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.