Posts Tagged ‘silence’

By Susan Beach.

If your spiritual life is a bit dry, or even non-existent, this Lenten season might be the time to try some of the ancient spiritual disciplines. There are a variety of disciplines because each of us is different, and because at various times, each of us is in a different place. Perhaps one will be just what brings new life to your spiritual journey. Because new life is what Lent leads to.

Each week, beginning on Ash Wednesday, one discipline is introduced. Try each one, even if it’s not familiar – allow God to connect with you in a new way. Adjust it as needed – remember that it is a tool. The point is to grow closer to God. If it doesn’t work for you, change it until it does. For each discipline there is a practical example of how to live out what you’ve learned in your journey with God. Try it or one of your own creation. At the end of each section is a resource for you to use if you are interested in learning more.

Beginning Wednesday, March 9, Ash Wednesday
He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. (
Matthew 14:23, NIV)

Silence, solitude, and listening to God have worked together as part of Christian practice since the third century when the desert fathers and mothers chose lives distinctly separate.

Pick a verse that is meaningful to you, find a place where you will be undisturbed, quiet yourself by breathing slowly, say the verse to yourself several times, then quietly allow God’s presence into your space. When you are distracted, repeat the verse and again quietly await God’s presence.

Live it out: You may want to share with someone or write in a journal what you experienced. You may also draw, dance, or give a gift to someone as your response to God’s presence.

Resource:  www.centeringprayer.com/centering_prayer

Beginning Wednesday, March 16
When you fast, do not look somber. (
Matthew 6:16a, NIV)

For Christians, fasting has a long tradition from the Old Testament patriarchs to New Testament examples. While some churches have an established time and type of fasting, the discipline can be practiced in private by anyone at any time as a personal commitment. In a fast, the believer chooses to do without something that is hard to give up, something that might be interfering with getting closer to God.

Often we think of fasting from food. If you choose this kind of fast, you can give up one meal a day, or eat smaller portions, or give up a specific food. You can fast from reading the newspaper, knitting, serving on committees – anything done so much that it takes away from time with God, that interferes with your hearing Him speak to you.

Live it out: Allow a food fast to remind you of those who are hungry not by choice. Bring a bag of groceries to FBC’s Food Pantry. Let other fasts prompt appropriate responses; if you can’t think of one, ask a friend for suggestions.

Resource: Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

Beginning Wednesday, March 23
The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. (
Deuteronomy 31:8a, NIV)

A prayer labyrinth is a tool for meditation, prayer and connecting with God. Unlike a maze there is only one path to the center; there are no dead ends. The point is to help you focus on your spiritual journey.

It is a physical experience, so pay attention to your pace, what you hear and see, who you encounter. You can pray for a special concern, meditate on a scripture passage, listen to what God is saying to you. You can stop at any point or spend time in the center.

Live it out: Use the labyrinth at 3351 Loxley Road in the Sherwood Park neighborhood of Richmond. Or use the link below to a finger labyrinth that you can print and use anywhere.

Resource: http://zdi1.zd-cms.com/cms/res/files/382/ChartresLabyrinth.pdf

Beginning Wednesday, March 30
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. (
Matthew 20:28a, NIV)

Sometimes the walk out from the center of a labyrinth becomes a journey to service. God is at all times calling us to serve Him by serving others. From the Old Testament’s question of “what do I require of you” to Jesus’ taking up the towel and bowl of water, we know He intends for us to show who He is by how we behave towards others.

Service is part of every believer’s life; it is not just for those who commit their entire lives to service in His name. Find direction from Brother Lawrence: “We must not grow weary of doing little things for the love of God, who looks not on the great size of the work, but on the love in it.”

Live it out: Find time today to do some little thing for someone you don’t know. Tomorrow do something for which you get no recognition. As you approach your regular work this week (whether it is doing the laundry or writing an important paper), do it as an offering to God.

Resource: The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

Beginning Wednesday, April 6
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you … On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. (
Psalm 63:1a, 6, NIV)

The divine offices are the practice of praying specific prayers at specific hours of the day.

Before you get out of bed, begin the day by praising God for who He is in your life – creator, shepherd, parent, teacher, champion, protector, healer…

In the middle of the afternoon, before the concerns of home take over, pray for those you work with or those who serve your meals, fix your car, deliver your mail.

As you get into bed, reflect on the day and thank God for His protection throughout and for how He used you to do His work.

Live it out: Perhaps a thank-you is in order for one of those you’ve prayed for during the afternoon. But before you express that, make a list of all the things you are grateful for about this person. Think of small and specific things, so that when you say thank you, it is received as genuine.

Resource: A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie

Beginning Wednesday, April 13
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (
Exodus 20: 8, NIV)

The creation story begins with the keeping of the Sabbath. God kept it and expected His created beings to keep it. His intention was to give us a day of rest and restoration; part of that rest and restoration comes from knowing who He is. For Christians, the Sabbath is also a time of celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, of the life that is to come.

Plan how to turn this Sunday into a time of keeping the Sabbath. It’s not about rules that keep you from doing things. It is about setting aside this day, making it different from the rest of the week, so that you start the next week refreshed spiritually, mentally and physically. Begin by acknowledging who God is through worship. If you don’t always have time for a relaxed family meal, make Sunday dinner special – something everyone likes, with enough time to enjoy each mouthful, and hear from everyone present. Or plan a meal for a friend, keeping it simple and allowing for a relaxed time to catch up. If you’re inside at a desk most days, make time for a walk outside. Include time for rest. If reading or listening to music is a rare treat, include that in the day. End the Sabbath with scripture – something like Psalm 98 to celebrate the day God has given you.

Live it out: Commit to making one Sunday a month a true Sabbath for you and all your household.

Resource: http://www.jewfaq.org/shabbat.htm

Holy Week, April 17-24

Sunday, April 17, Palm Sunday

Meditate on Luke 19:28-44 several times today. Imagine the scene – the sights, smells, sounds. Watch Jesus as He weeps over Jerusalem; listen to His words. Now imagine He turns to you and says “Have you found peace?”

Wednesday, April 20

A contemplative service led by Robert Dilday.

Thursday, April 21, Maundy Thursday

Walk through your neighborhood today or through the halls where you work. Pray for everyone you see, for those you know and those you don’t know.

Friday, April 22, Good Friday

Spend your lunch break in the quiet of the sanctuary at Tabernacle Baptist Church, 1925 Grove Avenue, at noon. Remember that “From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.” (Matthew 27:45, NIV)

Saturday, April 23, Holy Saturday

Set spiritual goals for yourself: Choose one of the disciplines that worked best for you during Lent and one that was a challenge. Commit to doing the former one once a month and the latter once a year.

Sunday, April 24, Easter

As you plan your Easter Sunday, include whatever will make it a true Sabbath celebration.


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