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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Day 26 in the 50 Day Spiritual Adventure

Today I'm reading Mark 6:30-34. 

From the little I know about sheep they are not too bright. Left to themselves they wander off and do themselves damage. They need tending. So do we.

In our world our three greatest enemies seem to be noise, hurry, crowds. Constant stimulation. Sensory overload. Psychiatrist Carl Jung, “Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.” One of the hardest and most necessary things to do is to create silent space, quiet world of inner contemplation.  Sounds strange to modern ears but we need to enroll as apprentices in the school of meditative or contemplative prayer.

The need to withdraw and to meditate on our relationship with God is described 58 times in the Bible. Such as:

Psalm 77:12
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.

Psalm 119:15
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.

Psalm 119:148
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises.

Psalm 143:5
I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.

Psalm 145:5
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

Jesus had this kind of communion with God – constant conversation, intercession – but still needed time alone to be with God to meditate. Perpetual presence of God moves from a theological idea to a radiant reality.

Simply put, meditation is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word. No more complicated than that. No secret words, mantras, body postures. No esoteric flights into the cosmic void.  Like Adam and Eve – they talked with God in the Garden. This kind of communion with God is our natural state – long lost, but longed for.

Christian mediation is different from eastern meditation. In eastern thought the purpose is to empty the mind. To become detached from everything and all desire. Christian meditation is the opposite. To fill the mind with Christ. To move from detachment to attachment. Attached to Jesus.

Meditation is not just about calming brain patterns, or meditation as a tool to soothe stress. A technique to control your biorhythms. There may be physical benefits to meditation but that’s not the goal. Loving God and knowing him better is.

 Someone once said that "meditation is the soul's chewing." Slowly savoring, returning to the same thing over and over again. No rush. A ‘being’ not a ‘doing’ with God. Not asking for anything – just being in his presence. Enjoying his presence and just being with him. Not accomplishing anything else than that. That kind of posture before God can feel very threatening. No wonder we are easily distracted.

So, find a quiet place with no distractions (cell phone, gadgets, people, pets).

Find a posture that helps you combine mind and body and spirit are one. Whatever helps you. The Bible describes all postures for prayer. Lying prostrate on the floor, kneeling, standing with hands raised, walking. What is most comfortable for you. I like walking. 

Prepare yourself for quiet, once you’ve quieted the outside noise you’ll find the inner noise is much harder to deal with.

One thing that has helped Christians pray in a meditative way for thousands of years is "The Jesus Prayer." When you can't think of what to pray or you need to calm your mind and turn off the noise in your hear just pray this prayer repeatedly

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

Or this shorter version:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, grant me your peace.

Or shorter:

Jesus have mercy on me, a sinner
Jesus grant me your peace.

Or shorter yet: 

Jesus mercy.
Jesus peace.

That's a prayer you can carry with you throughout the day. And throughout the day you can find moments to withdraw to a quiet place with Jesus, fill your mind with Jesus mercy. Jesus peace. And then carry that with you into whatever else you are doing. 


p.s. Thanks for your prayers yesterday. The situation I was describing had a hard but positive ending. The Lord was faithful in restraining the evil that could have happened, and he opened a good way forward. I praise him for that!!!

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