Week 2 Hearing God in Communion with Him
We open with Breath prayer (repeat silently 3x):
We cast all our cares on you,……..for you care for us.
Music: Dolce Jesus Mio
Bolivia, Baroque, 17-18C. By Ex Cathedra, 2005
Language: Chiquitano- a native people, one of approx. 20 ethnic groups living in the tropical inland plains of eastern Bolivia.
Prayer: Pray together:
O Lord, we ask you now to calm our thoughts, emotions and bodies as we prepare for your gift of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened to know the Hope to which you have called us, and the immeasurable riches you have for us in Christ. (EPH 1: 17-19)
Hearing god …through Spending time with Him …in Communion and Silence…He transforms us…
Elijah Hears the Lord
1 Ki 19:11-13
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
How was Elijah transformed?________________________________
Isaac of Nineveh: “Many are avidly seeking, but they alone find who remain in continual silence…Every man who delights in a multitude of words, even though he says admirable things, is empty within. If you love truth, be a lover of silence. Silence like the sunlight will illuminate you in God, and will deliver you from the phantoms of ignorance. Silence will unite you to God himself…”________________________________________________________________
Communion with god… IN the silence of the Heart….
…Is a God-given Capacity
St. Augustine of hippo, North Africa (345-430AD)
“We must fly to our beloved homeland. There the Father is, and there is everything.”
…silence is necessary
St John of the Cross, Spain (1542-1591)
“Our greatest need is to be silent before this great God,…for the only language he hears is the silent language of love.”______________________________________________
Silence is Not Just for Monks, Ascetics, or strange people…
Bill Volkman: Editor, instructor in navigation in Naval aviation in WW2. Northwestern University Business and Law Schools, graduate, Career as tax attorney, CPA & Associate Professor of Business and Economics at Wheaton College and founder and Editor of Union Life Magazine.
“Since I was a boy, and came to Christ as my Savior, I’ve always known rest in my spirit (freedom from eternal judgment and condemnation), BUT the truth is that at age 65 I still didn’t know rest I my soul.”
Originally launched in 1976, Union Life magazine was started by lay people for lay people to share with fellow Christians the liberating discovery of the apparently forgotten "good news" of our union with Christ. Union Life magazine also focused on the first line of Romans Eight: "There is therefore no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus." The good news of a loving, forgiving God indwelling His people, uniting them to Himself, was the basis for the name: union life. After faithfully proclaiming this liberating truth for a number of years, it became apparent that union was not simply an intellectual concept, but meant to be a vital experience available to all. In 1990, this understanding came full circle as union for communion with a God of unconditional love became experiential through the ancient practice -- largely unknown to us as evangelicals in the protestant tradition -- of the prayer of silence.
“ At last I have learned something of what Jesus meant when he said, ”*Come to me”– what it means to come home to the Christ who lives at the center of my being. Now I take time daily to be lovingly attentive to the Christ who lives a the center of my being. I take time for inner listening and waiting on God, as well as for out study, prayer and praise. I practice both contemplation (inner resting/gazing on Him) and meditation (inner thinking, studying & mulling over an idea or scripture.” - Bill Volkman
*Matt. 11: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Transformation issues from Contemplation in silence:
Meditation - discursive
Directed by us
Within our control
Offering our Intention
Not directed by us…A Gift!
Just do It!
*It doesn’t matter what you call it: Practicing the Presence, Contemplative Prayer, Centering Prayer, Prayer of Silence, etc.…
What matters is that we EXPERIENCE IT!_______________________________
“There is a big difference between the information that flows from meditation, and the transformation that issues from contemplation. If you have not yet found rest for you soul, try coming home to Him each day in a time of quiet contemplation.” -Bill Volkman
Not a technique but “A Spiritual Practice”
A spiritual practice is NOT a technique. Techniques suggest a certain control that aims to determine a certain outcome. But a spiritual practice simply disposes us to allow something to take place.
Q1. Does a gardener grow plants?
Q2. Does a sailor sail a boat?_____________________________________
The Gift is God
A1. Or does a gardener practice certain gardening skills that facilitate growth that is beyond the gardener’s direct control.
A2. Or does a sailor practice sailing skills that harness the gift of the wind that brings the sailor home, but there is nothing the sailor can do to make the wind blow.
And so it is with contemplative practice. It is not a technique, but a skill. The skill required is interior silence. The gift is communion with God.
The sacred word is a gesture of our consent & intention…It is God we seek.
Maintains our intention to consent to God’s presence in our inmost being. The word appears in our imagination but exercises no direct quieting function on the level of our ordinary stream of consciousness, rather it only expresses our intention, the choice of our will to open and surrender to God’s presence.
Return to that word whenever we feel our intention growing fuzzy.
The Divine Presence of God is already there. We do not create it. All we have to do is consent to it.
Visions, consolations, experiences, psychological breakthroughs, all have value, BUT only a limited value, pointing us to the maximum value, which is the whole of God in pure faith.
- Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God
Two directions to take:
The Prayer of Silence
The Prayer of Silence IS a spiritual practice
The goal and focus is God
Silence as a doorway
Silence as a doorway
Allowing God to lead us for other spiritual exercises/practices
The Two Practices of the Spiritual Life, - Martin Laird Into The Silent Land
Stillness - (ie. Silence, Centering prayer, Contemplation, and prayer of the heart)
Attentiveness- which forms the foundation for:
Tonight’s Exercise: Lectio (pronounced “lek -see-yo”) lectio = reading
This evening’s spiritual exercise is called Lectio Divina- Divine reading.
The preparation is silence
The goal is not discursive understanding of the text, its background, etc, but to see ourselves in relation to Jesus through the characters in the text, or to see something of how God sees us. It is to Be with God in some way the He chooses for us. Our intention is to be with Him. The text is a prop or rough structure to help us with our intention.
Luke 19:1-10 Jesus and Zacchaeus
Directions for Lectio:
Lectio Divina (lek-see-o de-vee-na) Exercise
…the following time allocations are simply a guide for the beginner and not to be followed religiously. Once you become comfortable with the model, you’ll find your own rhythm.
…Journaling is not traditionally taught as part of Lectio Divina, but it can help you to process your own thoughts and respond to God’s communication – plus it is nice to look back and be reminded what you learned or specifics that God spoke to you.
Ready (5 minutes)
Find a quiet place and get comfortable. Close your eyes and seek to be still and quiet – not only on the outside, but on the inside, as well. Consciously relax and take a couple of minutes to enjoy the stillness. Approach this time as a holy meeting with God: Pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten the passage you are about to read, to teach you through it.
Read (5 minutes)
Read the text slowly – sometimes it helps to read it aloud – as if you are listening for the still, small voice of God to speak to you personally, not loudly, but intimately.
The first time through, read it for information and context.
The second or even third time, look for a word, phrase or verse that stands out to you. Don’t worry about whether or not this word is “from God,” simply let yourself be drawn into that part of the scripture. Once you identify a word or phrase that caught your attention, you are ready to move on…
Reflect (10 minutes)
Meditate on this word or phrase. Sometimes it helps to write it out.
Use your mind to analyze it, to define what it means to you.
Let the word or words engage you emotionally – use your imagination. That’s what God created it for!
Note any emotions, memories or mental images that arrive as result of your meditation. Write down any thoughts, impressions or pictures you receive. Don’t worry about proper grammar; simply write what comes to mind.
Respond (10 minutes)
During this part, respond to your meditation with prayer.
You may even write in your journal, “What are you saying to me?”
Ask God why this word or phrase caught your attention.
Then be silent and wait for an answer.
Dialogue or journal (or do both) with God about what you are feeling or hearing. Don’t try to censor what you think you are hearing – you can determine later if it lines up with scripture or the character of God. This is a time to simply and honestly talk with God and yourself. This is where transformation begins to take place.
In summary, ask yourself, how should I speak and act if this passage is true? What impact does it have on my life?
Rest (5 minutes)
This is a time of contemplation – or wordless, quiet rest in the presence of God. Try to focus all of your mental and emotional attention on God. If you find it difficult to do, try using a breath prayer such as “I receive” as you inhale deeply and “your love for me” as you exhale. “You are…my shepherd” is another.
There is the story of an old peasant who went every noon to the village church to pray. He would simply sit for a while in the back of the church, then get up and leave. One day the priest asked, “Sir is something troubling you?” The old man replied, “Oh no, I just look at God and God looks at me.”
Transformation takes place as you sit in God’s presence.
Return (throughout the day)
Keep thinking about the passage during the day and even week. God may want to speak to you more about the thoughts and attitudes of your heart. Lectio Divina is not just a Bible-reading activity to do; God’s intention is that his Word changes us into the image of Christ.
Courtesy of Charles Bello, “Prayer as a Place”
Contemplative Prayer, by Thomas Merton, Image Books: Doubleday, c. 1969 (posthumously by Merton Legacy Trust)
Basking in His Presence: A Call To the Prayer of Silence by Bill Volkman, Glen Ellyn: Union Life Ministries, c. 1996
Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, by Ruth Haley Barton, InterVarsity Press, c.2004
Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form, Image Books, Doubleday, c. 2001 ed.
Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation, by Martin Laird, Oxford University Press, c.2006