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Prayer & Engaging the World: the overflow of Communion with God


Reunion Church – Kris Jensen - Week 1 March 7, 2018

Today & Next week: We want to live and serve out of our connection to God, from the overflow of that intimacy. We will talk about prayer which builds that life-giving communion that we and God long for.

Today we are going to talk about Prayer, practice prayer and perhaps discover ways of praying that might work for you that may be life giving and encouraging. We want to live and love out of our connection and communion with God, from the overflow that comes from our spiritual union with Christ. But our spiritual union with Christ will bear little fruit unless there is a 2 way communication and intimacy on the Spirit level.

1) Read & Discuss:

NRS Revelation 3:20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

Question: In what ways is this verse about more than our first coming to Jesus Christ for salvation?

“Christ is not only offering to enter our hearts take up residence; He is offering to dine with us…But there is more. There is His invitation to us to answer his knocking at the inner recesses of our hearts. We are meant to be, not do; we are meant to be in love, for it is in this feast of love, which we are invited to daily, even hourly, that we are truly equipped with the inner resources necessary to be love for our world.”

2) Read and Discuss

NAS 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face abeholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

a. κατοπτρίζω (katoptrizo) Meaning: to reflect as a mirror

Origin: from katoptron (a mirror)

Usage: beholding as in a mirror(1).

CEB 2 Corinthians 3:18 All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Questions:

What are some ways or times you have experienced prayer as “beholding as in a mirror” as “looking with an unveiled face at the glory of the Lord”?

What veils still seem to be over your face?

3) Read and Discuss

NET Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.

Rom 8:26 “When all of our concepts and imaginings and words come to an end, and we are down to our longings and groanings, the Holy Spirit takes over. In effect we are saying, “Holy Spirit pray for me, I have nothing more to say.” - JB Phillips New Testament in Modern English

Question:

In what ways does this Spirit prayer go deeper than the verbalized acknowledgments, praise and petition that we practice?

Our one-sided praying, the endless monologues we engage in, need to be enlarged to include some form of interior or contemplative prayer which allows for listening, which allows for being. In centering prayer, we stop our monologue and take time to be still and listen to God, and to just BE with God.

There is a difference between discursive, meditative prayer words, thoughts, reasoning, images & petitions and the silent, heart-centered, contemplative prayer which flow from the depths of our being. It is ALL truly prayer, but we tend to choose the discursive part and leave the silent part undone.

4a) Practice Breath Prayer – to learn to still our minds through still our breath

Instructions – on screen (also attached below)

4b) Practice Centering Prayer – we create a space of silence as an invitation to God to sit with us and us with Him, for me just to gaze on Him (Christ) and for him to gaze on me.

Centering Prayer moves us closer to Contemplative Prayer of Silence

Instructions- on screen (also attached below)

A Story is told……..

“The custodian of a church had the responsibility of unlocking the doors at 6AM each morning. On weekdays, his other duties were to tend to the necessary cleaning and maintenance of the church building and grounds.

Only occasionally did he see a parishioner enter the sanctuary for a few moments of meditation and prayer. One day he realized that each morning an elderly woman, obviously of modest means, quietly entered the church a few minutes after he opened the doors. She always sat in the back pew, and she unobtrusively slipped out of the church about 2 hours later.

After observing her for many months, the custodian, unable to contain his curiosity any longer, timidly approached the woman. He asked, “Pardon me, Madam, may I ask you a question?”

She smiled her assent.

“I have watched you come in here day after day, sit quietly in the same pew, and then walk out two hours later. What are you doing?”

She smiled mater-of-factly: “I look at Him. He looks at me, we look at each other.”

Conclusion Questions to consider:

  1. Did anything you hear tonight strike a spark in you?

  2. What does that spark feel like?

  3. Is there a desire that you would like to take home and talk more about with God? Make note of that so you won’t forget.

  4. How might something you heard relate to your desires or fears to be involved in Jesus parable of the 5-2-1?

Sources:

Basking in His Presence: A Call to the Prayer of Silence, Bill Volkman, Union Life: Glen Ellyn, IL, c. 1996

Centering Prayer: Recovering an Ancient Christian Prayer Form. M. Basil Pennington. Doubleday, rev. ed. 2001

An Unhurried Leader: The Lasting Fruit of Daily Influence. Alan Fadling. IVP Books: c. 2017

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Instruction on Breath Prayer:

The goal of the breath prayer is to calm our thoughts and bodies using a short verse to keep our hearts and mind on Jesus. We invite Him to be with us as we give this time and space to Him.

1. Sit or stand quietly for a few moments.

2. Ask for the Lord’s presence.

3. Breathe in and out while saying the prayer in your mind.

4. Say the prayer three times then pause and remain in silence.

5. When your mind wanders or if you cannot be still yet. Repeat 3x.

6. Rest in His presence for a moment or two.

Some choices:

We cast all our cares on you…for you care about us.

Create in me a clean heart O God…and renew a right spirit within me.

Let my prayer some before you as incense…and the lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

My soul waits for you Lord…more than watchman wait for the morning.

Instruction on Centering Prayer:

The goal of centering prayer is:

  • to be attentive to the presence of God within…centering all of your attention and desire on him (Not like eastern meditation where the goal is to empty yourself, and not like Christian meditation on the meaning of Scripture)

  • to learn to dwell in this presence - that the fruit of the dwelling may show up in your everyday life.

  • to consent to God's presence and action within.

The purpose of centering prayer is not to get a word from God or any sort of divine revelation or experience…although experiences may occasionally happen.

The purpose of this prayer is to bring the believer to a state of inner stillness before the Lord, trusting that in this stillness – in this communion with the Lord – we will be changed; He will work in our hearts.

The history:

Centering prayer finds its origins with the early desert fathers.

It is first described as a form of contemplative prayer in the 4th century writings of the monk John Cassian (AD 360-430). A Romanian, he made a 20-year pilgrimage into the desert, then later founded a monastery for men, then women, in France. He wrote of this practice he learned from the Desert Fathers as a prayer focusing on inner freedom of the soul, listening to God, and becoming conscious of the indwelling presence of God. He encouraged his monks to start with a simple prayer: “O God come to my assistance; Lord, make haste to help me.”

Centuries later, disciples were encouraged to gather all this desire into one simple word, one that is meaningful, that represents God in all his fullness and nothing less. Some have likened it to a meditative mantra; but the focus here is not the word, but the presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

My experience:

For about a year, practiced this in the morning for 10 to 20 minutes.

Most the time nothing tangible happened, but sometimes, instances of inner healing.

Struggled with waking up with anxiety at night, and that went away. Also, living in a place of inner peace and calmness on a much more regular basis.

1. Choose a sacred word or short phrase as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within.

The word or phrase should communicate God’s love to you or your intention toward Him.

Examples would be Lord, Jesus, Abba, Father, Love, Peace, shalom, rest, or phrases such as I receive your love for me, or the Jesus prayer.

Or a few verses of a Psalm to guide your rhythm of breathing in and out:

Lord May my prayer be set before you as incense…

And the lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

(some times just practicing this breathing on and out with parts of a Psalm is referred to as Breath Prayer)

Having chosen a word, do not change it during the prayer period…that is too much thinking.

2. Sit comfortably…

Don’t sit so comfortably to encourage sleep, but comfortably enough to avoid thinking about the discomfort of your body during this time of prayer. Keep the back straight; assume an open posture.

3. Close your eyes.

Let go of all thoughts, tensions and sensations that you may feel *****

Rest in the love of God who dwells within *****

Gently introduce your sacred word or phrase *****

As thoughts subside and you become restfully aware, simply let go of the word or phrase.

Just BE in the stillness.

4. Return to your word or phrase as your only response to thoughts, questions, or any anxieties that may arise.

5. Emerge slowly from the silence - even if you don’t feel you need it. Take a couple of minutes to express thanks, worship, or praise to God, or recite the Lord’s Prayer.

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