contemplation, Faith, hope, love, God, honesty, oneness, Prayer

Balance

 

May I find the balance, Lord,
As I relate to you –
To speak, but also listen,
For we are not one, but two.

May I talk things through with you,
As we share every day;
Then spend a while in silence 
When there’s nothing more to say.

Thus, may we live together,
Dearest Father, Spirit, Son, 
Rejoicing in communion –
For we are not two, but one. 

 

References 

Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God (Romans 5:11; NLT).

As for me, I would speak directly to the Almighty (Job 13:3; NL).

Listen to his voice (Deuteronomy 13:4; NLT).

God talks with man (Deuteronomy 5:24; DBY).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NLT).

The godly will live in your presence (Psalm 140:13; NLT).

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14; NKJV).

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

 

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Prayer: five steps toward God

 

Introduction

God gives us prayer so that we can communicate with him, and he with us. There are five main ways of praying:

Speaking: Using words to talk to God. 

Listening: Being silent, so we can hear God’s voice.

Conversing: Having an ongoing, two-way dialogue with God.

Communing: Letting words go, dwelling in God’s presence.

Uniting: Experiencing oneness with God.

Each of these ways of praying has its part to play in helping us draw closer to God. They form a series of steps towards him, through which our relationship gradually becomes more intimate. Let’s consider them briefly, one at a time.

 

1. Speaking 

We begin with the most basic kind of prayer: speaking. Here we use words, either aloud, or in our heads, to talk to God. In this way, we can, for example, praise or thank him, ask for his help or forgiveness, pray for others, and forgive those who hurt us. Spoken prayers may be very brief, whilst we are busy, or longer, during times set aside for the purpose. Spoken prayers can also be shared with other people, for example, at home, with friends, online, or during church services.

With practice, we can develop the habit of speaking to God fairly constantly whilst going about our daily lives. This helps us to become aware of, and to share with him, the stream of unbidden thoughts, temptations, emotions and fantasies which continually rise into consciousness from our shadow selves. Only by recognising these aspects of ourselves can we incorporate them into our spoken prayers, and share them honestly with God, as he desires.

However, although there is a lot to be learned about ourselves through spoken prayer, we will not discover much about God if we do all the talking. So, in order to progress towards a deeper relationship with him, we must add the second step, by beginning to listen. 

 

2. Listening 

Learning to listen to God means setting aside time to be alone with him, in silence and stillness. During these periods we practice fixing our minds, hearts and souls on him as steadily as possible. Keeping our own words to a minimum, we wait to discover what he wants to say to us. This process is often known as contemplation.

As we listen for God’s voice, our internal stream of thoughts, feelings and fantasies inevitably continues. I have already written about how we can handle these aspects of ourselves, some of which can be very challenging. If you would like to read the relevant posting, please click on this link: https://wp.me/p45bCr-3F9

 

3. Conversing

Over time, the twin processes of talking and listening to God evolve into an ongoing, two-way conversation, and this forms our third step towards him. Day and night we are, to a greater or lesser extent, aware of his presence, and our dialogue continues, no matter what else is happening around us. 

 

4. Communing 

As our relationship with God deepens though this constant conversation, we reach the next step in prayer: communing. This is the point at which words become inadequate, and unnecessary. Letting them go, we pass beyond them to spend time with God in silent togetherness. To begin with, this is most likely to happen during contemplation, but as we progress, it can occur at any time, as long as we remain aware of God’s presence.

 

5. Uniting

Beyond the stage of togetherness, there is one more step we can take during our time on earth. Here we unite with God, experiencing an indescribable oneness with him, though of course, we are always one with God, whether we are aware of it or not. In life, we generally have to return to the demands of everyday life after each such experience. After death, however, this state is changeless, timeless, and eternal.

 

Conclusion

Although they can be separately described, these five ways of praying work best in combination. As each new step is combined with those that came before, our intimacy with God becomes broader, deeper, more honest, and more continuous. This, I believe, is what Saint Paul was referring to when he encouraged us to “Pray constantly.”

 

References 

Pray about everything. Tell God what you need (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5; NLT).

You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).

Listen to his voice (Deuteronomy 13:4; NLT). 

When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private (Matthew 6:6; NLT).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7; NIV).

After the fire [came] a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12; NKJV).

God talks with man (Deuteronomy 5:24; DBY).

You are close beside me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; RSV).

 

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Cleanse my heart

You must be compassionate, just as your
Father is compassionate (Luke 6:36; NLT). 

Cleanse my heart, Lord, 
So that I
May care for you
In those who sigh. 

Mend my heart, Lord,
So that I
May comfort you 
In those who cry. 

Heal my heart, Lord,
So that I
May watch with you
In those who die. 

Fill my heart, Lord, 
So that I
May be more like you,
Christ, on high. 

 

References 

If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (1 John 1:9; NLT).

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace (Romans 15:13; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15; NRSV).

[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:4; NIV).

My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me (Mark 14:34; NLT).  

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NKJV).

 

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Your way

When there’s something 
Nagging at my mind, Lord,
May I stop to think 
What I might do,

Being clear and honest
With myself, Lord,
And sharing every part of it 
With you. 

Once we’ve talked it over
May I act, Lord, 
Sorting out my problem
In your way,  

Then, I’ll share your joy
And peace of mind, Lord,
By growing more and more like you 
Each day.

 

References 

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight (Deuteronomy 6:18; NLT).

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did (1 John 2:6; NLT).

Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21; NLT).

Peace I leave you; my peace I give you (John 14:27; NIV).

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

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Just like you

I need not ask 
What others think
Before I make my mind up —
Just like you, Lord.

I need not  judge 
What others want
Before I grasp my feelings — 
Just like you. 

I need not wait
For others to agree     
Before I speak out boldly — 
Just like you, Lord.

I need not watch 
To see how others act
Before I do what’s right, Lord –
Just like you.

 

References

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

I want you to show love (Hosea 6:6; NLT).

I want you to show mercy (Matthew 12:7; NLT).

Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight (Deuteronomy 6:18; NLT).

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Pray constantly

Pray constantly, 
Both day and night;

Rejoice in God,
And never stop.

Thank him for good 
And bad alike –

Commune with him,
No matter what!

References

Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; CSB).

Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16; NIV).

Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realise that both come from God (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NLT).

Commune with your own heart (Psalm 77:6; KJV).

Don’t you realise that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

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When I can’t rejoice

When I can’t rejoice, Lord,
May I pray.

When I cannot pray, Lord, 
May I sleep.

When I cannot sleep, Lord,
May I rest.

When I cannot rest, Lord, 
May I weep.

When I cannot weep, Lord,
May I wait –

Enduring all,
For you will keep me safe. 

References

Always be joyful (1 Thessalonians 5:16; NLT).

Never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NLT).

I think, ‘My bed will comfort me, and sleep will ease my misery’ (Job 7:13; NLT).

I am churning within and cannot rest (Job 30:27; CSB).

I weep with sorrow (Psalm 119:28; NLT).

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7; NIV).

In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind (2 Corinthians 6:4; NLT).

You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe (Psalm 4:8; NLT).

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