Thursday, November 20, 2008

stillness prayer / settling self before God

mentioned during the message on Sunday that I'd post about a helpful prayer tip I'd received from my dad. useful especially for me when trying to still myself before God, but probably useful as a discipline in and of itself.

so much of me is buzzing, vibrating, clanging when I sit down to pray during the course of a normal day.  and not necessarily with a kind of regular musical frequency; more like when a guitar is starting a feedback loop.

so after a deep breath or two, I've been working through body, mind, heart, soul and presenting myself to God as I am, or at least as much I am aware of myself.

starting with my body, I'll take note (usually cataloging from head to toe) of what I feel, temperature, energy, aches, pains, hunger, thirst, etc  and simply offer (for lack of a better word) it to him.  sort of a, hey, my head hurts a little, stiff neck, I'm hungry, knees ache.  I surrender my concern for my body to you here now as I begin to pray. 

then on to my mind.  I'll briefly consider the things I've been thinking about the day - the sermon coming up this week, so and so's email I have to reply to, this or that problem that needs solving, some idea I've been reading about, a decision that needs making, etc.   just the stuff that pops up on first consideration.  and similarly, offer it.  Lord, thinking about this and that right now; I'm setting those thoughts aside to think on you - my mind's yours.  something like that at least.  some sort of acknowledgment and letting go.

heart for me usually is a two-part process.  first my emotions.  identifying and offering whichever emotions are currently insistent enough for me to have been aware of in the last hour or so, sometimes asking for the Spirit's help in being aware of emotions that might be under the surface.  after emotions, it's stuff that has to do with my will.  identifying current conflicts between my will and my sense of his will for me.  the prayer goes something along the lines of  Lord, here's the stuff that my heart seems to be desiring, lusting after, pursuing that I feel like you want to replace with different desires, some better kingdom pursuit.  as I come to you now, I confess this to be the state of my heart.  it's not like a thorough-going process of working through these things with God, more like just telling him I don't want to hide from him while I'm spending time with him, and if he wants to show up with me in this current state of brokenness, that I'm open to him being here.

soul for me has to do (at least in this context) my relational connections.  with him, with others.  so I just think of each person or group of people that I'm most connected with or have responsibility for, and acknowledge to God that he has primary relationship with each of them.  for example,  Lord, while I'm praying here now, I give my relationship to Ronni, and Colin, and Elle, and Micah to you.  pretty simple.  I don't dwell on this part of the prayer very long, unless I have some specific concern about the relationship, in which case I offer that concern, too.

that's it.  usually then, I'm in a much more settled place of peace for prayer.

any things you've learned, grown in, been frustrated by that you can share in this discipline?  comments are open.


Amy Wilson said...

i like your new blog and the new content! this is a great post...another thing i find helpful is a Richard Foster tip called "hands down/hands up" the hands down part you sit with your hands in front of you palms open and pointed to the floor (maybe resting comfortably on your legs) and then while they are down you release to God the things on your mind, worry, stress or just the "to do list" you are composing-imagining kind of dropping them (thus the hands open and pointed down). then after doing that for a few minutes you turn your hands up asking God to come into the places that have just been emptied by releasing all the other stuff...this helps me to settle into a place where i can pray instead of spending time just quietly worrying or thinking about what i need to do next :)

Jesse said...

very cool, I like it...gonna try it!