Daily Prayer :: Water

Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Author: Circle of Hope (page 1 of 288)

March 22, 2019 – Finding your own meditation rhythm

For people just beginning to walk with Jesus and looking for the tried-and-true paths for getting to feel their faith, this week’s book: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in God, will set you on a good path. For anyone who has been wrecked by guilt-inducing Bible homework, either skip this week, or use the entries from a grace-filled perspective — the Bible is more about yearning than earning.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Psalm 143

Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

More thoughts for meditation

Everyone has their own body rhythms, mental habits and family instincts. So the best way to meditate is something we need to establish for ourselves. That being said, humans are not that much different in many ways and spiritual teachers throughout the centuries have come up with tried and true guidelines. We should probably try them all on before we start sewing our own clothes – something is likely to fit. Here are some ideas.

1) This first idea for a good rhythm goes with today’s psalm. Get up in the morning and listen. Most of the great examples from the past we love did this. If you have young children, it may be hard to beat them up (and you might be tired!). But not giving in to whatever gets in the way of spending time with God is what we are talking about. Perhaps you could set your alarm 10 minutes early and just sit up a little in bed and meditate there (you won’t be reading this on your ipad, you will be more like Isaac from a few days ago).

2) Meditate in the shower. It is a great, intimate environment. You are probably alone. You could rinse what needs rinsing away and be enveloped in warmth and newness.

3) Go to you special place for your daily time with God. All the suggestions for action that have been made this week would work best in a devoted time of quiet in a cordoned off area. You may need to make a deal with your spouse that you get a section of your little house to yourself for half an hour in the morning or evening.

4) Meditate as you drive or bike. Turn your commuting time into communing time. Some people like to put in their headphones and listen to wave sounds (or Cardi B) on planes and public transportation. Time on the conveyance might be good meditation time. But public places might be better for loving, even if withdrawing into your holy bubble is tempting.

5) Just close your eyes for a few minutes. According to this bio, “Susannah Wesley (mother of John and Charles) vowed, early in her life, to never spend more time in entertainment than she did in prayer and Bible study. Even amid the most complex and busy years of her life as a mother, she still scheduled two hours each day to spend with God. The challenge was finding a place of privacy in a house filled to overflowing with ten children. Her solution was to bring her Bible to her favorite chair and throw her long apron up over her head, forming a sort of tent. Every person in the household, from the smallest toddler to the oldest domestic helpers, knew well to respect this signal. When Susanna was under the apron, she was with God and was not to be disturbed except in the case of the direst emergency.” That’s more than leaning back from your desk for a minute to close your eyes and meditate! But you get the idea.

6) Meditate when you walk. Many people can testify that it is when our body is engaged and our mind bored or occupied with the sights that we get our best ideas and solve our thorniest problems. Jesus walked all over Palestine; perhaps he had a meditative as well as a missional purpose.

7) Meditate when you are lonely. If we ever get to the place where feeling lonely signals our need to turn to God, who is with us, we will be doing well. Because we will be undoing one of our deepest troubles: feeling alone and unloved. In the Old Testament the word for “sigh” or “murmur” became the word for “meditate” too, since we might appear to be talking to ourselves. You can see the two ways we can go when we are lonely: sighing in contentment or disturbed we are alone, meditating on our connection or murmuring about our isolation.

8) Meditate when you wake up in the night. This might be hard for us, since our anxiety might be what woke us up. So we fret, and then fret about being sleepless! Psalm 119:48 says, “My eyes are awake before each watch of the night,  that I may meditate on your promise.” Maybe you could put the slip of paper on which your wrote God’s promise to you the other day. Reaching over and touching it when you wake up might be a way to be at rest.

Suggestions for action

This week’s book suggests we use scripture for our basis for meditation with a simple method much like our 2PROAPT

  1. Ponder

Read today’s reading attentively, maybe aloud. If you can, read it in its larger context. Imagine Jesus saying it to you. Focus on all the words and try to understand what the passage means.

  1. Personalize

Let me hear of your steadfast love…

We all wake up as we wake up. It would be great if we feel loved when we do, regardless of our condition (since we are loved!). But at least we can listen for the reaffirmation of God’s steadfast love. Each day is a rising up. Listen right now.

in the morning…

What do you think is special about your morning, not just the psalmist’s?

for in you I put my trust.

We have a relationship with God. God trusts us with His unfailing love; it is what makes us humans. We trust God back, just like any other relationship in which we get that far. Tell Jesus you trust him. Or just tell him how much you trust him and he will tell you how much he trusts you. Work that out.

Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

This is a synonymous phrase to the previous sentence with a twist. The first was about being receptive; this one is about being empowered. Meditate on what’s coming next for you. You may not be able to see the entire road ahead, but you are likely to be empowered to take the next step.

  1. Practice

Today’s reading might be a good portion to memorize and say every day upon waking for the rest of Lent. Meditation on specific sentences in the Bible opens up our minds to wonderful variations in them and depths both in the words and in ourselves! The famous teacher, Guigo (a monk in the 12th century) saw repetitious practice as a “ladder.” The four rungs were lectiomeditatiooratio, and contemplatio (read, ponder, pray, contemplate). He said, “Reading seeks for the sweetness of a blessed life, meditation perceives it, prayer asks for it, contemplation tastes it.”

March 21, 2019 — Gaining a life-leading image of  God

For people just beginning to walk with Jesus and looking for the tried-and-true paths for getting to feel their faith, this week’s book: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in God, will set you on a good path. For anyone who has been wrecked by guilt-inducing Bible homework, either skip this week, or use the entries from a grace-filled perspective — the Bible is more basking than back breaking.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Philippians 4:3-9

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

More thoughts for meditation

In Jeremiah 23 the prophet brings God’s condemnation on false prophets who deceive the people. They claim to have a message from God but none of them have “stood in the council of the Lord so as to see and hear his word” (v. 18). It is a good meditation, in itself, to imagine being in whatever the “council” of the Lord might be. Often we might think of that as a place in our brains, but it is more likely a place in God’s presence. How do you imagine it?  It is the place where God says: “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

One of the best places to gain insight on how using the Bible to meet with God is Psalm 77 [Our song at 1:03:17, and this one at 10:38].

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Asaph found himself unable to sleep. Caught in the clutches of fear and worry, he meditated:

“I think of God…I meditate…I consider the days of old….I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit.”

In his meditation, he asks himself some questions and ponders the answers:

“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love ceased forever? Are his promises at an end for all time?  Has God forgotten to be gracious?”

Reviewing God’s faithfulness in the past brings up answers

“I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old.  I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds.”

Some people meditate on “God’s word” like knowing the Bible is magic. Asaph is meditating on God, not the words. As the song says, “Thou my best thought by day or by night.” Asaph’s best thoughts lead him to see God leading him through his own Red Sea.

With your strong arm you redeemed your people…. Your way was through the sea….You led your people like a flock.

We are lost, so we look, and love leads us out again and again. In our deepest fear and isolation God finds us and draws us into the way we need to go.

Suggestions for action

This week’s book suggests we use scripture for our basis for meditation with a simple method much like our 2PROAPT

  1. Ponder

Read today’s reading attentively, maybe aloud. If you can, read it in its larger context. Imagine Jesus saying it to you. Focus on all the words and try to understand what the passage means.

  1. Personalize

Finally, beloved,…

“Finally” here is the sense of “ultimately.” It calls us to consider what is ultimate with us, but also draws us to this good end to which Paul demonstrates as possible.

whatever is true…

If your mind is dwelling on what is true right now, what are you thinking?

whatever is honorable…

We are not an honoring people in the U.S. What do you sense Paul is calling you into?

whatever is right…

In Paul’s thinking “right” is more “righteous” or “rightly related to God and others” than factually correct. It is more about being “righted,” as in we were fallen and Jesus has made us to stand up straight and confident. Dwell on that.

whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Keep taking the words one at a time. Don’t just read them, be led by God through them. Dwell with God in them and they come to dwell in you and shape your character and reactions.

  1. Practice

This is a good verse to memorize, even bothering to get the words in the right order so they are like a poem or a song of your heart. The words are a bit like holding up our image of God like a many-faceted gem and turning it in the light, experiencing and enjoying the nuances and brilliance.

March 20, 2019 — Seeing yourself as the Lord sees you

For people just beginning to walk with Jesus and looking for the tried-and-true paths for getting to feel their faith, this week’s book: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in God, will set you on a good path. For anyone who has been wrecked by guilt-inducing Bible homework, either skip this week, or use the entries from a grace-filled perspective — the Bible is more like a tool than a rule.

Participating in the Divine Nature

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read 2 Peter 1:1-11

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

More thoughts for meditation

Meditation (as in mindfulness), in many forms, has become the go-to prescription the hypermodern world people as the antidote to hypermodernity. It builds ragged people up and calms anxious people down. It makes our minds stronger and faster, just like exercise does for the body.

The Bible gives us a sense of place and relatedness that fights the autonomous and anonymous nature of the present culture. So our meditation is not a just a means of self-care, it is a means of receiving our true self. We Jesus followers relate to the translators of the King James Bible, who meditated do long on an indecipherable piece of Hebrew in Proverbs 23:7 they came up with a line that has resonated ever since: As one thinks in their heart, so are they. Isaiah 26:3-4 has become a go-to focal point for generations of people feeling anxious: “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—in peace because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.” (The KJV version of this has become the lyric for many songs).

Today’s reading has an encouraging piece of wisdom to apply in our search for a place to stand and relate before God and others. The power of God with us gives us everything we need, most fundamentally that Spirit-infused, Jesus-following life to which we are called. Our new “godliness,” or life in our restored image, comes from knowing the Lord, who calls us into his own glory and goodness. Our experience of this connection is a promise we will be safe, whole and together forever. That big promise meets every specific, corrupt desire inside and out in its many variations. Again and again God’s promises to us meet the promise in us and that connection relentlessly remakes us into free participants in our true nature aligned with God’s nature.

Searching the Bible for promises on which to meditate will prove fruitful. The famous missionary to China, Rosalind Goforth wrote about this in her memoir. During the Boxer Rebellion mobs gathered around the inn where she and her husband were staying. It was definitely a possibility they would be killed, as had already happened to many missionaries. Their team gathered to pray and Rosalind sat there terrified as her husband brought out Clarke’s Scripture Promises. He randomly read one and “All realized that God was speaking to us…From almost the first verse my whole soul felt flooded with great peace; all trace of panic vanished, and I felt God’s presence was with us.”

Suggestions for action

This book suggests we use scripture as our basis for meditation with a simple method much like our 2PROAPT

  1. Ponder today’s excerpt

Read today’s reading attentively, maybe aloud. If you can, read it in its larger context. Imagine Jesus saying it to you. Focus on all the words and try to understand what the passage means.

  1. Personalize

His divine power has given us everything needed… 

Read this line a few times, since every word is significant. Which word imparts power? For which word is you mind thirsty?

for life and godliness…

The grace and peace of God breed grace and peace in us. Godliness is our life of reflecting God’s image, now restored in us by the work of Jesus. How does “godly” describe you? And what still feels yet-to-be-restored?

through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness…

Out of glory and goodness God called us. Sit back and know those traits. Feel them.

Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

List the promises of God to you described here. Thinking of all the promises God has made to you, which one rises to the surface as the one you need to remember right now? If you want to go further with that, consider what lust or evil desire seems to be one you have experienced or welcomed which weakens your connection with God.

  1. Practice

There are many wonderful phrases to hold on to in this passage. Find one you can ponder all day. Even make it your focal point when you are emptying your mind in contemplation. See if preoccupying your mind with a Bible snippet all day helps to change your mind. Check out how it comes up against your desires and those of others, and what that conflict means – it may mean more than you initially think, since Bible meditation is not just about moral reform. Meditation helps us see ourselves as God sees us – with a heart full of grace and promises.

Today is Gordon Cosby Day! Visit an spiritual ancestor who greatly influenced the beginnings of Circle of Hope at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

March 19, 2019 – Focus on the wonder of God and gain perspective

For people just beginning to walk with Jesus and looking for the tried-and-true paths for getting to feel their faith, this week’s book: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in God, will set you on a good path. For anyone who has been wrecked by guilt-inducing Bible homework, either skip this week, or use the entries from a grace-filled perspective — the Bible is more like a cask than a casket.

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Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read James 3:13-18

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

More thoughts for meditation

In her book, Lessons I Learned in the Dark, Jennifer Rothschild describes her fear of flying after 9/11. She had many flights to take that fall, yet the atmosphere in the airports was tense and so was she. “I remember getting on my knees before God and telling him that I  was fearful,” she writes. “Immediately, this verse came to my mind: ‘When I am afraid, I will trust in you’” (Psalm 56:3 – put to music)

“God knows that sometimes fear and trust share the same heartbeat. As I meditated on the verse, I suddenly realized that I am afraid describes a condition and that I will trust describes a volition.” And neither defines how God is with me. Her deeper cooperation with faith helped undo her shallower reactions of fear. She ended up finding the courage to fly in peace, in the face of her foes.

The Bible is a gift to readers and listeners who want to practice creating new pathways in their brains for truth, hope and peace. Isaiah 55:8, Colossians 3 and James 3 (today’s reading) all describe the development of our thoughts once God is revealed to us. God does not think like us, but we can learn to have the mind of Christ. Our minds are set on automatic much of the time, but grace can throw a wrench in the works, if we cooperate. We can gain wisdom “from above.”

With meditation you can focus on the wonder of God, gain a higher perspective, and tap into God’s wisdom from above. These things, then, become not only your shield in a world embroiled in a spiritual war; they also become your weapons.

Suggestions for action

This book suggests we use scripture as our basis for meditation with a simple method much like our 2PROAPT

  1. Ponder today’s excerpt

Read today’s reading attentively, maybe aloud. If you can, read it in its larger context. Imagine Jesus saying it to you. Focus on all the words and try to understand what the passage means.

  1. Personalize

But the wisdom from above…

Try visualizing what that wisdom looks like when it comes upon you.

is first pure…

Pure wisdom has a natural impact on impurity. How do you see that happening in you?

then peaceable…

Is conflict in you, around you or between you and others (maybe even with Jesus) derailing your connection with the heart of God?

gentle…

“Gentle” or “considerate” is usually in the eye of the beholder. But using your own gentle eye, do you think you have received this wisdom?

willing to yield…

One can’t lead if they can’t follow. One has little power if they only get it by rebelling. What do you do with the word “submit” or “yield?” Can you embrace it, knowing the reality it represents in Jesus?

full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

This clause is the doing side of the being side in the word “pure.” Wisdom is knowing how to act out the selfless love of God in Jesus in all relationships, in a troubled and needy world. Do you want that wisdom? Ask for it.

  1. Practice

What part of the passage seemed like God gave it to you, the most? Jot it down, or jot down the directions it gave you and keep meditating on it through the day and night. Check to see if it is changing you reactions to wise actions.

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