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Walking in the Spirit

Tools to Deepen Your Spiritual Life



From Lenten Program 2006

Centering Prayer
Spiritual Journal Writing
Experiencing The Lord's Prayer
Walking the Labyrinth
The Anglican Rosary


Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is a method of prayer which prepares us to receive the gift of God's Presence, traditionally called contemplative prayer. It consists of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God's presence and action within. It furthers the development of contemplative prayer by quieting our faculties to cooperate with the gift of God's presence.

Centering Prayer facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer - verbal, mental or affective prayer - into a receptive prayer of resting in God. It emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God. At the same time, it is a discipline to foster and serve this relationship by a regular, daily practice of prayer. It is Trinitarian in its source, Christ-centered in its focus, and ecclesial in its effects; that is, it builds communities of faith.

Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970s by three Trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Ketaing at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.

The Method of Centering Prayer by Thomas Keating

The grace of Pentecost affirms that the risen Jesus is among us as the glorified Christ. Christ lives in each of us as the Enlightened One, present everywhere and at all times. He is the living Master who continually sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and to bear witness to his resurrection by empowering us to experience and manifest the fruits of the Spirit and the Beatitudes both in prayer and action.

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is the most traditional way of cultivating friendship with Christ. It is a way of listening to the texts of scripture as if we were in conversation with Christ and he were suggesting the topics of conversation. The daily encounter with Christ and reflection on his word leads beyond mere acquaintanceship to an attitude of friendship, trust and love. Conversation simplifies and gives way to communing, or as Gregory the Great (6th century), summarizing the Christian contemplative tradition, put it, resting in God." This was the classical meaning of contemplative prayer for the first sixteen centuries.

Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative Prayer is the normal development of grace of baptism and the regular practice of Lectio Divina. We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. Contemplative Prayer is the opening of mind and heart - our whole being - to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words and emotions. We open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing - closer than consciousness itself. Contemplative Prayer is a process of interior purification leading, if we consent, to divine union.

Method of Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is a method designed to facilitate the devlopment of contemplative prayer by preparing our faculties to cooperate with this gift. It is an attempt to present the teaching of earlier time in an updated form and to put a certain order and regularity into it. It is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer; it simply puts other kinds of prayer into new and fuller perspective. During the time of prayer we consent to God's presence and action within. At other times our attention moves outward to discover God's presence everywhere.


The Guidelines

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

Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within.

When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.

At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.


Suggestions for your own special place to pray

Set a comfortable chair in a quiet area of your home, with a small table nearby with any of the following readily accessible: a cross, an Anglican rosary, the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and other spiritual readings.

Or you may choose to have a small altar and kneeler for your private prayer time.

Soft lighting, candles, scented candles or incense, or chimes may be beneficial.


Spiritual Journal Writing

Keeping a journal helps give form and substance to the thoughts, questions, and feelings that have been floating around in our heads and hearts and offers us a special time for contemplation, a better understanding of ourselves and of our experiences, and a deepening of our spiritual lives.

Keep writing materials on the stand by your bed or at your writing center.

Journal your thoughts daily. For example: blessings, needs, things that may be weighing on your mind, thoughts about your spiritual growth, questions, ideas or courses of action to contemplate.

You may use plain paper, but a blank, bound book or journal will help you keep all of your entries together and in order.

Practice entry:

Fasting is often associated with letting go. To what are you feeling overly attached? Is there something in your life that it might be time to let go of?


Experiencing The Lord's Prayer

1. Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name
   Thank God you can call him Father because of the blood of Jesus

Praise him that he is:

Declare with your mouth:

Jehovah-Tsidkenu
(Jehovah is my righteousness)

You are my righteousness

Jehovah-M'Kaddesh
(Jehovah my sanctifier)

You are working in me both to will and to do your good pleasure

Jehovah-Shalom
(Jehovah my peace)

You are my peace

Jehovah-Shammah
(Jehovah is present)

You are the Holy Spirit in my life who will never leave me or forsake me

Jehovah-Rophe
(Jehovah my healer)

You are my healer

Jehovah-Jireh
(Jehovah my provider)

You are my provider

Jehovah-Nissi
(Jehovah my protector)

You are my protector

Jehovah-Rohi
(Jehovah my shepherd)

You are my guide, leading me daily to do your will


2. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

    a. Yourself
    b. Your family (name each member)
    c. Your church (pastor, staff, teachers, harvest)
    d. Your nation (president, leaders, city, school, teachers)

3. Give us this day our daily bread

    a. Your needs
    b. Your family's needs
    c. Your church needs

4. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us

    a. Ask God to forgive you
    b. Forgive others who have sinned against you
    c. Choose to forgive (ahead of time, at this moment) anyone who may sin against you today

5. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

    a. Put on the whole armor of God:

1. Belt of truth buckled around

"Jesus, you are my truth - I will not let any lie be in my heart."

2. Breastplate of Righteousness

"Jesus, you are my righteousness - Your blood cleanses me from sin, and makes me right with God."

3. Feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace

"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who will believe. I am ready!"

4. Shield of faith

"Jesus you are my faith - I will believe what you say, not what the devil says, or my friends, or circumstances."

5. Helmet of salvation

"Jesus you are my salvation. You are my Savior, my Redeemer, my Deliverer."

6. Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God

"Jesus you are the Word of God which lives in me. Fill my mouth today with your name."

    b. Put a hedge of protection around you and your family:

      "Jesus, I set my love on you. You are my home, my fortress.
      I trust in you. Thank you for letting me know your name."

6. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever

    a. Praise God that he wants to share his kingdom, power, and glory with you.

    b. Thank God that he will work in you so powerfully that other people will be able to see His glory on you.

    c. Praise God that you can be a bold witness for Jesus.

Walking the Labyrinth

labyrinth

"The labyrinth has only one path so there are no tricks to it and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives. It touches our sorrows and releases our joys. Walk it with an open mind and an open heart." ~ Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.

Suggested process: Before you begin your walk, you may wish to focus on a particular problem or question that you have. During the walk, let it go. Let go of the things that separate you from God. You may take time at the center of the labyrinth for additional meditation or prayer. As you wind your way back out of the labyrinth, you may feel a renewal of your relationship or union with God. Afterwards, take time to reflect on your experience.

LOMC labyrinth

"Walking the labyrinth may bring you peace, comfort, clarity, release from stress, a sense of closeness to God, new insights and perspectives on problems or questions in your life"~ "The Labyrinth" brochure from the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center in Oregon, Illinois.

The Grace Cathedral website explains the purpose and process of walking the labyrinth and offers a search function to help you find a labyrinth in your area.

The labyrinth at the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center at 1834 S IL Route 2, Oregon, Illinois, is open to the public.




The Anglican Rosary


Anglican Prayer Beads are a relatively new form of prayer, blending the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The 33 bead design was created by the Reverend Lynn Bauman in the mid-1980s, through the prayerful exploration and discovery of a contemplative prayer group.

The use of the rosary or prayer beads helps to bring us into contemplative or meditative prayer - really thinking about and being mindful of praying, of being in the presence of God - by use of mind, body, and spirit. The touching of the fingers on each successive bead is an aid in keeping our mind from wandering, and the rhythm of the prayers leads us more readily into stillness.

As you pray, proceed around the rosary 3 times for a total of 99 beads. Use prayers and psalms of your own choosing, such as the prayers said during the Holy Eucharist

The Anglican Rosary may be purchased at Christian stores. It is also easy to make. There are a wide variety of beads available locally. Rosaries or beads may also be purchased on the Internet.

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