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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When we do all the talking

Father God,

When we 
Do all the talking 
During prayer,

It’s easy 
To confuse our will 
With yours.

Only when we listen, Lord,
In silence 
For your voice

Can we hear
The gentle words
Our speech obscures.

 

References 

When you pray, don’t babble on (Matthew 6:7; NLT).

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

Be silent before the Lord, all humanity (Zechariah 2:13; NLT).

If only you would listen to his voice today! (Psalm 95:7; NLT).

After the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12; NLT).

Then you will learn to know God’s will for you Romans 12:2; NLT). 

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Constant prayer

With many thanks to Peter Johnston
for his inspirational words. 

 

May I live in you
Through constant prayer:
Resting, waking, working, Lord,
With you.

May I live in you
Through constant prayer:
Listening, speaking, serving, Lord, 
With you.

May I live in you
Through constant prayer:
Trying, struggling, failing, Lord, 
With you. 

May I live in you
Through constant prayer:
Suffering, fretting, waiting, Lord,
With you.

May I live in you
Through constant prayer:
Forever reuniting, Lord, 
With you. 

 

References

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV).

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

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

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When we want to talk about ourselves

 

Lord,
When we want to talk about ourselves,
Remind us others may have problems, too,
So we can ask, and listen,
Just like you.

Lord,
When we feel sorry for ourselves,
Remind us others may be suffering, too,
So we can ask, and comfort them,
Like you.

Lord,
When we crave support just for ourselves,
Remind us others may need cheering too,
So we can ask, and strengthen them,
Like you.

Lord,
When we long for love to come our way,
Remind us others may feel lonely, too,
So we can ask, and love them,
Just like you.

 

References

How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble (Job 14:1; NLT).

They suffer painfully; their life is full of trouble (Job 14:22; NLT).

When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32; NLT).

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2; NLT).

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).

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

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Chosen One

 

Lord Jesus,
You are God’s Chosen One.
Please help me to listen for your voice.

Lord Jesus,
You are the way. 
Please help me to follow your path.

Lord Jesus,
You are the truth. 
Please help me to live by your gospel.

Lord Jesus,
You are the life. 
Please help me to serve you with a willing heart.

 

References

This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him (Luke 9:35; NLT).

I am the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6; NLT).

Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind (1 Chronicles 28:9; NLT).

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Pray honestly

 

Pray honestly,
Unceasingly –

Say all 
You want to say.

Then listen 
In the silence,

As God speaks to you
Today.

 

References

Lord, you are searching for honesty (Jeremiah 5:3; NLT).

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

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

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

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

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

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