"The seed of God is in us: Pear seeds grow into pear trees; Hazel seeds into hazel trees; And God seeds into God."
Meister Eckhart, 14th Century mystic
"The very best and highest attainment in this life is to remain still and let God act and speak in you."
Meister Eckhart, 14th Century mystic
"Compassion is where peace and justice kiss." Meister Eckhart, 14th Century mystic
Letting the word of God shape us is not an intellectual exercise. Letting the word of God shape us is about stopping the cycle of frustration, anger, fear, and distrust and creating enough space, enough stillness, enough trust, for something new, something holy to happen.
At first, some may find the practice offered a stumbling block and foolishness, however, if you give yourself to the practice outlined, and yourself to Christ in the process, the practice will bear fruit. A few minutes of focus and effort a day for a season is all that is asked. There is power and wisdom in these ancient practices.
The techniques require practice. You cannot expect to sit at a piano and instantly play a concerto. Neither will you be able to sit down to prayer and instantly hear the word of God. Making a commitment to the practice is planting a seed. Sitting each day for a few minutes is gently tending the seed until it takes root, grows, blooms, and bears fruit. When the practice bears fruit, it is because God has revealed God's self in your daily practice. Thanks be to God!
“He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:11-13)
“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10
Preparing our Hearts and Minds for Prayer
Do what you need to do to prepare for prayer. I tend to pray early enough in the morning that I have few interruptions (besides my cat). You may need to tell people that you are praying, maybe put a sign on the door (mine reads, “In Session; No Interruptions Please”). You may wish to prepare a specific space for your daily devotion. You may want to set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes. I light a candle and take some intentional breaths. Sometimes I imagine myself getting heavier with each exhalation and sinking deeper into my chair. Sometimes I’m more intentional about letting energy flow through me from the earth to the sky and back down from the sky into the earth. I say a simple prayer asking God’s Spirit to be present, something like: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9).
Sacred Reading or Lectio Divina
Begin by reading the passage for the day slowly and intentionally. It might help to read it out loud. Read it several times. Are there words or phrases that stand out to you? Write them down. Are there images, memories, poems, stories, songs, strong feelings that arise? Acknowledge them by writing them down. Please note that “feeling nothing” is a feeling; write it down. Start considering what God is asking of you in this text, what is the invitation? Give this process time. If this process does not seem fruitful, you may want to look at the questions and reflections provided. But please, only look to these reflections after you have attempted your own reflection.
Choose one word from the reading, or a short phrase. Set a timer for 3 to 20 minutes. Sit quietly and let your thoughts empty, only thinking the word to yourself when you become distracted. If this is a new practice, I highly recommend you start with 3 minutes.
If at any time during your period of prayer you feel the warmth of the presence of God, set aside the materials and simply sit with God for as long as the sense of presence remains. Give thanks.
Always ask for what you need. God knows, but it is important for us to learn the humility and self-awareness to ask.