Prayer in Practice

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And this is the confidence that we have toward [God], that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have [received] the requests that we have asked of him.

1 John 5:14,15 (ESV)

Prayer is the deliberate act of the soul. It is true, full of grace and lasting, for it is united with and fixed into the will of our Lord by the inner working of the Holy Spirit.

~ from Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich

God delights in our prayer. Do not be discouraged. He hears you and knows your heart and your deepest desire. Shine, then, as His light in the darkness of the world. Be your brother’s hands and feet, be your sister’s pillow. God knows and will give you the desires of your heart because your will is aligned with His.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

All Our Strivings Cease

‘… spend the remainder of your life only in worshipping God. He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration. Sometimes to pray for His grace. Sometimes to offer Him your sufferings. And sometimes to return Him thanks for the favours He has given you, and still gives you in the midst of your troubles. Console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him at your meals and when you are in company. The least little remembrance will always be pleasing to Him.’

~ Brother Lawrence, extract from his seventh letter to a friend, from ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’

When I am weak, then I am strong’ wrote Paul.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matt.11:28-30 NRSVA

Stop trying so hard. Just fix your mind on Jesus. ‘Whoever has God lacks nothing’, Teresa of Avila wrote, so why do we always think we ‘ought’ to be more, do more? Do I think I can out-do God? Ridiculous! When my gaze is fixed on Him, all the rest follows as effortlessly – and as incomprehensibly – as day follows night.

Thank you, Lord, for Your abundant goodness; may I never forget that Your grace is always enough. Amen.

Reblog: Confidence through Weakness

‘I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me’ gets bandied around a lot by well-meaning-but-naive types. Trouble is that it often gets interpreted as ‘I can do all things because I am strong’ rather than ‘my weakness is huge, but grace gives me strength’ (which is what Paul is actually saying in the rest of the chapter – he’s talking about suffering). In the face of ‘I can do all things because I am strong’ I just want to run away and hide, appalled at my weakness, but given the other interpretation… as long as I say ‘yes’, I am strengthened beyond what I ever imagined. God has been showing me this, lately, as I go through EMDR – this strength that He bestows. It is a somewhat fearful thing, but it is nonetheless beautiful.

Philippians is one of my favourite books of the bible. In particular this end section of the letter to the church at Philippi:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.

Philippians 4:8-14 (NRSVA)

Contemplative in the Mud

So now, since you want to belong entirely to God, why should you be afraid of your weakness – on which, in any case, you shouldn’t be relying.
Saint Francis de Sales

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Summer Sundays – Glad to Just Be

At the beginning of the year, I came across a blog post asking what readers thought God was saying to them, in as few words as possible. ‘Just be‘ is what came to mind when I prayed. I have tried to let go of worry and stress and anxiety and live up to these words ever since. Paradoxically, rather than leading to carefree abandon, ‘just be’ has actually involved becoming more and more disciplined.

 

Discipline

Origin: From Middle English… via Old French from Latin disciplina ‘instruction, knowledge’, from discipulus (see disciple).’

 

Disciple, noun

‘A personal follower of Christ during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles.

A follower or pupil of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.

Origin: Old English, from Latin discipulus ‘learner’, from discere ‘learn’…

Source: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com

 

Discipline. Hmm. It’s not what you think.

 

This Christ discipline, I am learning, is a quiet discipline. It is not made of ‘should’ or ‘ought’, or layer upon layer of soul-crushing guilt. Surrender is emotional and physical as well as spiritual (this came as a surprise to me!). It is not until we surrender our life, soul and body that we realise how far we are from surrender. Another paradox.

 

Last night the girls and I took it in turns to read from ‘Heaven for Kids’ and then from ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’. Those of us not reading were absorbed in crafting. I was finishing off a crocheted dance bag for Chip (she has recently taken up ballet) and the girls were making birthday cards for a relative. In the loving quiet, which so resembled the place that surrender has created, we all had a space. We shared. It was peaceful, restful – and I was so, so thankful.