Today, I’m introducing TAKE TEN…which is an opportunity for us to engage in the practice of meditative prayer often called “contemplation”.
Contemplation is a practice that’s been around for many thousands of years in various forms among the peoples of the earth and it was taught by Jesus, as well.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:5-34) Jesus describes contemplative praying:
- When you pray, go into your inner room…
– Some people think this means an actual place…like a special
room or closet! That would be a fairly limiting idea, right? Let’s give up the idea of a literal room right at the beginning.
– I think it’s about developing an inner place within yourself. The
Benedictines would say it’s learning to centre yourself.
- Don’t use many words….
– so, be silent…don’t babble on!
- Let go of your worries…
– This is not the time to work on your problems or even to think about them. This is not the time to pray for others. This is a time to lay everything aside and let the silence draw you toward God, who is all about helping us grow the fruits of the Spirit: peace, joy, love… and the other fruits (Galatians 5: 22-23). We don’t make time for this sort of thing and because we don’t, we have lost something that’s good for us; that can heal us and equip us to manage. Even kids can do this and find it helpful!
- Pay attention…be mindful of the Presence of God
– We are turning toward God, allowing ourselves to listen, to focus.
– we are not relaxing and then sleeping! As we gain comfort with silence, it’s easy to relax and sleep…which may remind us we need this time to decompress in our lives.
– No matter how we come to this work, we will inevitably be distracted by things we think we should be doing…or with words of discouragement…this is stupid, etc. This is normal!!! What we have learn to do is to recognize the distractions as distractions and lay them aside. It takes time to learn to focus on paying attention, listening, watching, waiting….for what? The Holy Spirit of God, the presence of God is found when you can be present.
- Live in the present
– We have to learn to be in the present and it takes practice. If you take a moment to reflect, you’ll realize you live either in the past or in the future, rarely in the present.
So, “Take Ten”….this is a practice and if you decide to start, I hope you will continue and give it the 40 days to see whether or not it makes a difference in your life. We have the research to prove that when the church people do this, it makes a difference in our churches!
Contemplation is actually meditation. So here is a youtube for you to watch before we actually begin. That’s why I’m sending this to you on Shrove Tuesday! It will give you an introduction to the practice of meditating.
I didn’t have an instructor when I learned to be “present to the Presence”. But I had the motivation. I heard a speaker say you could hear God speak. I didn’t know how to do that. The speaker said, “In John 10: 1-5, Jesus says the sheep both hear and know the voice of the Shepherd.” That was enough for me…I was 21 years old and I wanted to hear that voice. What I discovered first was my mind was very busy and I had no concept of inner quiet….never mind inner peace! It took work to learn to be silent…on the inside. It’s much easier to do it on the outside! But to do both at once…that’s where we want to go.
Meditation or contemplation is a way to practice silence on the inside. We will start with this work and hopefully move beyond it as the 40 days progress. Everyone moves at their own speed with this kind of prayer, but what I found was it liked the quiet time. I was in university at the time, and time was at a premium, but it was worth the effort.
One of the best instructors of “how to do it” that I have found is a Benedictine monk named Father Laurence Freeman. I heard about him on CBC’s Tapestry show 7 years ago. Please watch this 10 minute youtube….as he gives you the basics of contemplative prayer and an idea of how to do it.
Push and hold the control button and move your mouse onto the link. Right click!
I’m looking forward to this adventure with you all!
- You might think about keeping a journal…write down your thoughts, experiences, reflections, etc. It’s a good way to see more clearly.