Daily Prayer :: Wind

First steps on the journey of faith and community

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January 16 — The Way of Jesus/Water: A well springing up

Leading the lame to the well

Today’s Bible reading

Read John 5:1-15

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

More thoughts for meditation

The way of Jesus moves toward water. We are destined to swim in an ocean of grace, now and forever.

That eternity begins like a drip, drip, drip. We get baptized in it and take on our spiritual identity. We swim in the pool and become a thirst quencher, a water giver and a port builder. We eventually become one with the waterfully at home, fully deployed. Jesus says, “The water I give you will become a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Our destination is an ocean of grace. But we start in a spiritual desert. Incrementally, we understand who we are and what we should do as living water changes our environment bit by bit. We adapt to the increasing drips that become pools, that become waterways that become an ocean.

The story of the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda represents our process too. He had very little idea of what getting into the water might mean. He had a very small concept of “water.” But Jesus met him in his condition and lifted him up into His “pool.” Jesus really stirred things up.

So it is a very good question for the disabled man: “Do you want to be well?” It is a challenge to be well! Jesus has water beyond what we can imagineour imaginations are often a bit invalid. We can stay dry and act like we are afraid of water or unable to get to any, or we can learn to swim like the great spiritual whales we are meant to be, singing for joy in the depths.

As soon as the man is healed by Jesus, his new, upturned life begins to turn others upside down. Do you want to be well and do you want to be a well? It is a challenge to be a well! If you are down the road on the way of Jesus, the choices do not necessarily get easier. If you are young, now is the time to collect every drop of grace and let it nourish your capacity to share your cup of cold water.

Suggestions for action

Have you been waiting a long time? Does it seem like you should have been in stirred-up water before now and stirred up more than you are? If anything, today’s reading tells us that Jesus is likely to show up in his own time, and it really does not matter how long we have been waiting, since we are talking about water that is eternal.

Maybe you are waiting on something you don’t understand and it is really right in front of you! What is pooled up in you already? What have you been given to give? Do you dare to write down what your heart wants Jesus to activate? Do you want to be well and to be a well?

January 15 — The Way of Jesus/Fire: Experience tangible grace

Today’s Bible reading

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:42

More thoughts for meditation

Convictions come in all shapes and sizes—some are as big and obvious as Moses’ burning bush, others come as delicate, emerging little flickers. One way to capture and nurture those flames is by intentionally reflecting on and praying our experiences. We may discover that we are standing on holy ground more often than we think! We may experience tangible grace in many ways.

tangible grace

In the aftermath of WW1 many orphans crowded into institutions because they had no one to care for them in the devastation of the war. There is a story about a particular orphanage where the desolate children had been starving before the end of the war. They cried at night even though they were safe and had food at the orphanage. Finally someone had the idea to give each child a piece of bread, a tangible reminder that there would be enough food tomorrow. The tears stopped and the children could sleep. We all may need tangible reminders of God’s provision for us. These practices for daily prayer can help us see what sorts of things still terrorize us and also see where we have tangible grace to hold on to.

Prayer practice

  • Prepare:
    • Grab a journal and pen
    • Choose an experience to reflect on—it could be any experience or meeting (a retreat, a walk, a conversation, a leadership training, a coordinating group meeting, a cell meeting, a public meeting, a meeting with a friend, therapist or spiritual director, or even a memory)
    • Ask God to enable you to remember and review the experience
  • Perceive:
    • Listen and look with God at what you recall about (the meeting): topics, interactions and discussion, experiences.
    • Jot down the things that are significant for you—whether it’s a perspective, feeling, insight, surprise
    • Read over what you have written and ask God to guide your attention as you listen to the one thing that you sense is important for you to pay attention to at this moment.  
    • Follow the leading given.
  • Ponder:
    • Turn your attention to whatever has surfaced for you as that “one thing needful” given to you in this exercise.
    • Take some time to be yourself with what is given.  
    • Consider the images, feelings, or physical sensations that emerge.  
    • Follow your intuition.
  • Pray:
    • Tell God about what you are experiencing.
    • Ask God about what you don’t understand.
    • Ask God, ask yourself: “Where is there grace in this for me? What is God’s invitation?”
    • Affirm your willingness and desire for God to be with you and at work in you and in what is going on for you for good.

You can do this same process with the Bible! Try using 2PROAPT from the Way of Jesus site.

Suggestions for action

Learn the Ignatian way of “examen.” The Daily Examen is a practice that Ignatius of Loyola thought was the most important discipline of all the disciplines to help his comrades grow deep in Christ. It’s a simple practice of quieting yourself before God and then letting the events, thoughts, and feelings of the past day roll through your mind.

Ask God to point out the broken places, where sin/self-absorption captured you. Let those go to God. These are the desolations of the day.

Ask God to remind you of the joy and hopeful moments in the day. These are the consolations of the day.

Some people practice something like this by naming the high point and the low point of their day. Journaling a record of this is helpful.  It helps us hang on to tangible grace.

January 14 — The Way of Jesus/Fire: Fan your gifts into flame

Today’s Bible reading

We receive a Kingdom which cannot be shaken . . . For our God is a consuming fire. —Hebrews 12

More thoughts for meditation

John the Baptist told people that “one is coming who will baptize you with the Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3). Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem after he rose until that fire came upon them, and it did (Acts 2). The writer of Hebrews says this fiery baptism is like receiving an “unshakeable” kingdom (Hebrews 12), which includes a healing so deep the brokenness transmitted by our ancestors is given a chance to heal, and our bond with our ultimate Parent is restored! The longer we are on the way of Jesus, the greater our sense of awe in relation to God’s power.

There are two sides to the image of spiritual “fire” at work in us: renewal and refinement.

Renewal: Fire is warmth in our cold hearts and light in our dark rooms. These images compel us and capture our longing for closeness to God who is Other than us but who needs us, not because of nature but because of love. We are other than God but we need God. There is a spark between us.

Refinement: Fire is passion in our relationships and compassion; it is about power and cleansing. It is hot and bright. Sometimes it hurts because we feel so deeply and because it searches us so completely. The challenge of knowing God, who is a “consuming fire” is one reason many people languish in the earth or wind stages, the first act, of life.

An unrenewed or unrefined disciple should not play with fire. In Luke 9 the disciples ask, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” Jesus turned and rebuked them. We don’t get to control the power—but we are tempted to try!

Suggestions for action

Fan into flame the gift in you. Grow in your experience of God and yourself. Some things are going to get burned up! But more is going to burst into a flame with a fire that burns but does not consume. Beautiful.

Where do you need renewed and refined? It does not matter whether you know everything about that question; what do you know?

Is there a place where you act with power that has not been given you? Search it out and bear the problem of needing to change direction.

What is burning in you that needs to be fanned? It may just be a spark, an inkling, a dream. Write down one thing to do and see if you can move with that spark. It may be a vision for evangelism and service; the world needs light and warmth.

All these questions imply that you are keeping a journal, aren’t they? If you don’t have one by now, get yourself a notebook. A school book full of notebook paper is fine; a moleskin might work; one of the fancier hardbound types might be perfect for you. Journaling our prayers is a good way to see what we are praying about. Our spiritual journal is more than a diary, but it does serve to help us see where we have been and celebrate our growth when we look back through it.

Check out our teaching on spiritual gifts at the Way of Jesus site. [Inventory] [Studies]

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