Daily Riches: Sanctifying the Day – Three Prayers (Thomas Arnold, John Williamson and William Britton)

“Lord, I don’t know what this day may bring…

and I’m glad
but I want to be ready for the day
prepared for me by you
and myself prepared by you
not to miss some incredible gift
not destroyed by some great loss.
I am, at your disposal
ready to love
ready to wait
ready to trust in the dark.
Prepare me to
give, receive and lose
to bless and be blessed
to rejoice, to grieve
to be much used by you
to wait expectantly for what’s next, or
to be taken home.
I am yours this day
and this day is yours for me.
May I live it to the full.”
William Britton

“O Lord, save us from idle words,
and grant that our hearts
may be truly cleansed and filled with your Holy Spirit,
and that we may arise to serve you
or lie down to sleep
in entire confidence in you and submission to your will,
ready for life or for death.
Let us live for the day
not overcharged with worldly cares,
but feeling that our treasure is not here,
and desiring to be joined to you in your heavenly kingdom
and to those who are already gone to you.”
Thomas Arnold

“Lord, it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.

The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world
and of our own lives
rest in you.

The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us,
and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
new joys,
new possibilities.

In your name we pray.
Amen.”
John Williamson

“Never stop praying.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you tried using prayers written by others (from the Bible or otherwise) as your own?
  • Can you think of advantages of sometimes doing that? …possible disadvantages?
  • Have you ever written down any of your own prayers? If so, what happened?

Abba, thank you for the many prayers of others that I can make my own.

For more: Praying Across The Centuries, edited by Vinita Hampton Wright

________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to share something of real value with you in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Soldiering On In Ministry (Ruth Haley Barton)

“One of the occupational hazards for those of us in ministry is that it can become hard to distinguish between the times when we are ‘on’ and working for God and times when we can just be with God for our own soul’s sake. We might notice that Scripture has been reduced to a textbook or a tool for ministry rather than an intimate personal communication from God to us. Perhaps prayer has become an exhausting round of different kinds of mental activity or a public display of our spiritual prowess. When we repress what is real in our lives and just keep soldiering on, we get weary from holding it in and eventually it leaks out in ways that are damaging to ourselves and to others. Times of extended retreat give us a chance to come home to ourselves in God’s presence and to be with God with what is true about us in utter privacy. This is important for us and for those we serve. …on retreat there is time and space to attend to what is real in our own lives—to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, shed tears, sit with the questions, feel anger, attend to loneliness—and allow God to be with us in those places. These are not times for problem solving because not everything can be solved. On retreat we rest ourselves in God and wait on him to do what is needed and we return to the battle with fresh energy and keen insight.” Ruth Hayley Barton

“My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you living/working “for God” without spending time “with God?”
  • Are you emotionally and spiritually exhausted? …running on fumes? …ready to melt down, blow up or burn out?
  • Are you living/ministering out of a place of emptiness? … “a parched and weary land?”
  • If your answers are “yes” to these questions, you’re in a very dangerous place. Can you make some changes? If not, what does that mean?

Abba, may my life and ministry flow out of a cultivated intimacy with you. Only you can do what needs to be done.

For more: Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Only Stopping Will Do (A. W. Tozer, Dallas Willard)

It’s not enough to believe in silence, solitude and stillness. These things must be experienced–practiced. And practiced often enough to be routine, to create new habits–new pathways. And so I come to a full stop. I sit quietly. Nothing else. I don’t petition God. I don’t give thanks. I don’t meditate on some problem, verse or divine attribute. I don’t count my blessings. I don’t look out the window in wonder–or any number of other important things I might otherwise do. Not now. Not yet. Because, unless I can somehow first remember that it doesn’t depend on me, unless I can remember that I can’t do what needs to be done, then all is lost. And until I actually do this every day, numerous times throughout the day, there is little hope that I will ever learn to do it at all. Everything argues against stopping: the to-do list, the desire to be productive, the expectations of others, ego, habit, and so on. And therefore, ruthlessness is required in establishing new habits, new intentions, new ways of understanding my day, my life–indeed, my importance. And I do have intrinsic importance. I have the potential to be used in this world in important ways–but I squander that potential by flitting from one thing to the next without stopping to push back illusions. After all, these kenotic moments are the most important of the day. Nothing else will be so formative, and informative, for my day. Nothing else will save me from myself. Nothing else will prepare me to attend to God and others, and to what’s going on with me throughout the day. Would it be more important to take these moments to love my spouse, to feed a homeless child, to memorize Scripture or engage in worship? No, for unless I first submit to utter inactivity, I cannot trust my actual activity to be of any use to anyone–including, and especially, God. No-one needs my hurried self–the one that to me seems so indispensable–my egotistical self that sees itself at the center–as essential. Something must be done. Only stopping will do.

“God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.” A. W. Tozer

“He who believes will not be
in haste.”
Isaiah 28:16

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you “in haste?” If so, why?
  • Are you attempting to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life?” (Dallas Willard)
  • Have you established practices to insure that you stop as you should?

Abba, may my stillness release your divine action.

For More: The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

_________________________________________________
Thanks for following and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Opening Up Space for God in Your Life (Keri Wyatt Kent and Brian Mclaren)

“Dallas Willard once wrote that the secret of the easy yoke is to live your life as Jesus would it he were in your place. How do you do that? I believe the first step is to slow down the pace. That allows you to be fully present, to be mindful, to be intentional, to create space, and to notice where God is working and join him in that work. …[My focus is] on three Christian practices that help us live as Jesus would if he were in our place: simplicity, slowing, and Sabbath-keeping. …Notice that these three create space for practices such as solitude, service, prayer, meditation on Scripture, and others. …Any spiritual practice, from solitude to service, must be approached in an unhurried fashion or the benefits of the practice itself will be lost. Connection with God, which is the reason for any spiritual practice, begins with changing our focus (from ourselves and our problems to God and his sufficiency) and changing our pace (from hurried and distracted to deliberate and focused). That is what simplicity, slowing, and Sabbath-keeping force us to do. They move us toward a life, an easy yoke, which if you let it, will open up space for God. …[redirecting] you toward a simpler lifestyle with more of God in it and to help you find rest for your soul and lighten your burden.” Keri Wyatt Kent

“Resting in the presence of God, without work or speech … one becomes more aware of the companionship, grace, and love of God than one has been of the companionship, demands, and duties associated with other people. …Contemplative practices … are exercised more or less in solitude, making the first cluster [solitude, sabbath, and silence] in many ways the key to the rest.” Brian Mclaren

“For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 

Jesus in Matthew 11:30

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Imagine Jesus living your life. How would that differ from how you’re living it?
  • Are you able to approach your life with God “in an unhurried fashion?” Is it “deliberate and focused” or improvised and impromptu?
  • Can you imagine “opening up space for God” in your life? Try it. What would that look like?

Jesus, help me as I try to imagine how you would live my life.

For More: Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life by Keri Wyatt Kent

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. If you liked this, please share it! I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Your Intuitive Prejudice In Favor of Self (Thomas Merton, A. D. Sertillanges)

“To proportion one’s task to one’s powers, to undertake to speak only when one knows, not to force oneself to think what one does not think, or to understand what one does not understand – to avoid the danger of missing the substance of things and disguising its absence under big words: all that is great wisdom. Pride rebels against it; but pride is the enemy.” A. D. Sertillanges

“We ought to have the humility to admit we do not know all about ourselves, that we are not experts at running our own lives. We ought to stop taking our conscious plans and decisions with such infinite seriousness. It may well be that we are not the martyrs or the mystics or the apostles or the leaders or the lovers of God that we imagine ourselves to be. Our subconscious mind may be trying to tell us this in many ways and we have trained ourselves with the most egregious self-righteousness to turn a deaf ear. …One of the effects of original sin is an intuitive prejudice in favor of our own selfish desires. We see things as they are not, because we see them centered on ourselves. Fear, anxiety, greed, ambition, and our hopeless need for pleasure all distort the image of reality that is reflected in our minds. Grace does not completely correct this distortion all at once: but it gives us a means of recognizing and allowing for it. And it tells us what we must do to correct it. Sincerity must be bought at a price: the humility to recognize our innumerable errors, and fidelity in tirelessly setting them right. The sincere man, therefore, is one who has the grace to know that he may be instinctively insincere, and that even his natural sincerity may become a camouflage for irresponsibility and moral cowardice: as if it were enough to recognize the truth, and do nothing about it!” Thomas Merton

“with humility comes wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of your “intuitive prejudice in favor of your own selfish desires?”
  • Do you listen, in the voice of God, others, or your self-conscious such that your “infinite seriousness” about your spirituality could be questioned?
  • How can you refuse to be “instinctively insincere” before God, and thereby learn to practice truthfulness with others about your weaknesses and limitations?

Self-humbling God, help me humbly receive truth about myself.

For More: No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Furious Love of God (Brennan Manning, John Chrysostom and Edwina Gateley)

“Many Christians have never have grabbed ahold of God. They do not know, really know, that God dearly and passionately loves them. Many accept it theoretically; others in a shadowy sort of way. While their belief system is invulnerable, their faith in God’s love for them is remote and abstract. They would be hard-pressed to say that the essence of their faith-commitment is a love affair between God and themselves. Not just a simple love affair but a furious love affair. How do we grab ahold of God? How do we overcome our sadness and isolation? …How, how, how? The answer comes irresistibly and unmistakably: prayer. …The task of contemplative prayer is to help me achieve the conscious awareness of the unconditionally loving God dwelling within me.” Brennan Manning

“God loves us more than a father, mother, friend, or any else could love, and even more than we’re able to love ourselves.” John Chrysostom

Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Quiet.
Still.
Be.”
“Let Your God Love You” by Edwina Gateley

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.”
Jesus, to his disciples in John 15:9

  • Year’s ago a Christian friend embarrassed me by asking, “So, do you love the Lord?” I wanted to talk about my “invulnerable belief system.” Is your relationship with God “a furious love affair?”
  • Manning makes it clear that many of us struggle with this. We know God’s love for us in a “shadowy way” or “theoretically.” It’s difficult for us to overcome “our sadness and isolation” from God. Are you able to be still and quiet, just “letting God look upon you” with the same love he has for Jesus his son – soaking in it, soaking it in? Why not do that now?
  • Is the way you practice prayer likely to lead you into a growing sense of God’s love for you? If not, what needs to change?

Abba, help me want you and seek you as much as you want me and seek me. Dissatisfy me with theory. Move me past theology. Unnerve me with your furious unfailing love for me.

For More: The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Prayer of Consent (Francis Fenelon and Thomas Keating)

“What God asks of us is a will which is no longer divided between Him and any creature. It is a will pliant in His hands which neither seeks nor rejects anything, which wants without reserve whatever He wants and which never wants under any pretext anything that He does not want. …Happy are those who give themselves to God! …placing our will entirely in the hands of God, we want only what God wants, and thus we find His consolation in faith and consequently hope in the midst of all suffering. …Happy are those who throw themselves with bowed heads into the arms of the ‘Father of mercies’ and the ‘God of all consolation’.” Francis Fenelon

“Contemplative prayer is a deepening of faith that moves beyond thoughts and concepts. One just listens to God, open and receptive to the divine presence in one’s inmost being as its source. One listens not with a view to hearing something, but with a view to becoming aware of the obstacles to one’s friendship with God. …In contemplative prayer the Spirit places us in a position where we are at rest and disinclined to fight. …Little by little, we enter into prayer without intentionality except to consent… and consent becomes surrender … and surrender becomes total receptivity… and, as the process continues, total receptivity becomes effortless, peaceful.… It is free and has nothing to attain, to get, or desire … So, no thinking, no reflection, no desire, no words, no thing … just receptivity and consent.” Thomas Keating

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine being “pliant” in God’s hands, never wanting “anything that He does not want?”
  • Are you willing to listen in prayer “with a view to becoming aware of the obstacles to [your] friendship with God?” …becoming “disinclined to fight?”
  • Are you willing to enter into a kind of prayer permeated only by “receptivity and consent?” Imagine what that would look like.

Abba, draw me to you, so that I throw myself with a bowed head into your arms, surrendering to you – the God who loves me and desires only good for me – the God of all mercy and consolation.

For More: Devotional Classics by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: An Hour Well Employed (Allen Verhey, Pete Scazzero, and Francis de Sales)

“Prayer is focused attention to God.” Pete Scazzero

“In learning to pray, Christians learn …a practice – and the good intrinsic to that practice. They learn, that is, to attend to God, to look to God. And they learn that not just intellectually, not just as an idea. In learning to pray, they learn a human activity that engages their bodies as well as their minds, their affections and passions and loyalties as well as their rationality, and that focuses their lives and their common life upon God. To attend to God is not easy to learn – or painless. And given our inveterate attention to ourselves and to our own needs and wants, we frequently corrupt it. …In learning to pray, Christians learn to look to God and, after the blinding vision, to begin to look at all else in a new light. In prayer they do not attend to something beyond God that God – or  prayer – might be used in order to reach; they attend to God. That is the good intrinsic to prayer, the good ‘internal to that form of activity,’ simple attention to God.” Allen Verhey

“How to meditate? Bring yourself back to the point quite gently. And even if you do nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back a thousand times, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.” Francis de Sales

“Lord, teach us to pray.”  Luke 11:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your prayer aimed at “focused attention to God” or are you often easily distracted by your “inveterate attention” to yourself and your own needs and wants? If you’re easily distracted, can you forgive yourself, admitting you’re like everyone else?
  • When worries, fantasies, noises, sinful thoughts and the making of plans disrupt your attention to God, are you able to “bring yourself back to the point quite gently” – with no self recrimination, self-defense or further distraction?
  • Can you bring your heart back to attentiveness to God, even if in one session it’s “a thousand times?”

Abba, I’m encouraged that with each distraction, I have the opportunity to turn to you and attend to you again. I’m glad to do this over and over as long as I must, knowing you’re waiting for me there, eager for my return.

For More: The Art of Loving God by Francis de Sales

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: What Can’t Happen in The Group (Calvin Miller, Brother Lawrence and John Philip Newell )

“The intrigue of the table in Psalm 23 has marked my life as a pastor. The metaphor mixes itself in glory. The shepherd becomes the sheep and God becomes the shepherd. There is no flock. There are only two. The shepherd and his love walk along and uninterrupted from the pleasant fields through the threatening chasm and back again. Their glory is not the path they walk but their togetherness. And how do we come to the table in the wilderness? Exactly as we would to any other table – hungry. Our hunger is for him whom we really can never know fully in a group, no matter how religious that group is.” Calvin Miller
 .

“He lays no great burden upon us — a little remembrance of him from time to time, a little adoration; sometimes to pray for his grace, sometimes to offer him your sorrows, sometimes to return him thanks for the benefits he has bestowed upon you and is still bestowing in the midst of your troubles. He asks you to console yourself with him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to him even at your meals, or when you are in company — the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to him. You need not cry very loud: he is nearer to us than we think. To be with God, there is no need to be continually in church.” Brother Lawrence

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.”
Psalm 23: 1,2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you seeking something from God at church, which you “can never know fully in a group?”
  • Does being “continually in church” seem to you like the key to being near to God? Can you imagine how it could actually be a major hindrance?
  • During a typical day, do you “console yourself with [God] the oftenest you can?” Have you considered setting specific daily times to recalibrate your relationship with God? to remember who you are to him? to remember to be aware that God is “nearer to you than you think?”

“Amidst the tiredness that overcomes my body and the tensions that linger in my mind, amidst the uncertainties and fears that haunt me in the darkness of the night, let me know your presence, O God, let my soul be alive to your nearness.” John Philip Newell

For More: Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter by John Philip Newell

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks for reading and sharing this!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: “A Table Only For Two” Calvin Miller, Henri Nouwen, and Gail Morgan)

“Fellowship with Christ is a table only for two — set in the wilderness. Inwardness is not a gaudy party, but the meeting of lovers in the lonely desert of the human heart. There, where all life and fellowship can hold no more than two, we sit together and he speaks as much as we, and even when both of us say nothing there is our welded oneness. And suddenly we see we cannot be complete until his perfect presence joins with ours.” Calvin Miller

“The priest looked at her sharply. ‘You can offer idleness to God,’ he said. ‘Unemployment, idleness, whatever. To do nothing in someone’s presence is a greater compliment than being busy and preoccupied.'” Gail Morgan

“To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. This requires not only courage but also a strong faith. As hard as it is to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty. The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it is the movement from the restless sense to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.”  Henri Nouwen

“When Jesus is present, all is well, and nothing seems difficult;
but when Jesus is absent, everything is hard.”
Thomas a Kempis

“Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.”
Psalm 25:16

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Behind your outward religious life, is there a hidden, intimate spiritual life just between you and Christ – where you meet as if “at a table only for two?”
  • Are you working, when loneliness overcomes you, to embrace it as a divine guide into a potent solitude instead, where you are “alone” but “Jesus is present?”
  • Have you determined to keep your most intimate life with God a private matter between you and God, so as not to demean it or puff up yourself?

Abba, meet with me in the lonely desert of my human heart. Teach me how to be unbusy and unpreoccupied in your presence, attending to you in love.

For More:  The Table of Inwardness by Calvin Miller

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Need for Action that Proceeds From Contemplation (Rowan Williams, Evelyn Underhill, Richard Rohr, and Thomas Merton)

“Contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom – freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.” Rowan Williams

“For [mystics,] contemplation and action are not opposites, but two interdependent forms of a life that is one – a life that rushes out to a passionate communion with the true and beautiful, only that it may draw from this direct experience of Reality a new intensity wherewith to handle the world of things; and remake it, or at least some little bit of it, ‘nearer to the heart’s desire.'”  Evelyn Underhill

“The opposite of contemplation is not action, it is reaction. We must wait for pure action, which always proceeds from a contemplative silence.” Richard Rohr

“Do you think the way to sanctity is to lock yourself up with prayers and your books and the meditations that please and interest your mind, to protect yourself with many walls, against people you consider stupid? …in the refusal of activities and works which are necessary for the good of others but which happen to bore and distract you? …by winding yourself up in a cocoon of spiritual and aesthetic pleasures, instead of renouncing all your tastes and desires and ambitions and satisfactions for the love of Christ, Who will not even live within you if you cannot find Him in other people? Far from being essentially opposed to each other, interior contemplation and external activity are two aspects of the same love of God.” Thomas Merton

“I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.”
Psalm 63:2

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is much of what you do “pure action” that “proceeds from a contemplative silence”, or are you typically just reacting?
  • Do you have a practice to help you escape the insidious influence of our “unreal and insane world?” If not by contemplation, then how?
  • Do you believe in contemplation? Do you “practice daily” what you believe?

God of Reality, may I commune with you before attempting to “handle the world of things.”

For More: New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

_________________________________________________

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Potential Pointlessness of Spiritual Disciplines (James Hannay, Dallas Willard, John Ortberg)

“What is clear … is that a small number of [spiritual disciplines] are absolutely central to spiritual growth. They must form a part of the foundation of our whole-life plan for growth as apprentices of Jesus. These are, on the side of abstinence, solitude and silence….” Dallas Willard

“Asceticism (askêsis) means an exercise, and an exercise is an entirely useless and meaningless thing unless it is undertaken with a view to something to be gained by its use. When St. Paul speaks of “exercising” himself he says that he does so in order to have a conscience void of reproach. In exactly the same way the monks practiced exercise, asceticism (askêsis), not as if the things they did were in themselves good, but simply as a means to the attainment of that perfection which they desired. …Fastings, vigils, meditations on the Scriptures, self-denial, and the abnegation of all possessions are not perfection in themselves, but aids to perfection. The end of the science of holiness does not lie in these practices, but by means of them we arrive at the end. He will practice these exercises to no purpose who is contented with these as if they were the highest good. A man must not fix his heart simply on these, but must extend his efforts towards the attainment of his end. It is for the sake of the end that these things should be cultivated. It is a vain thing for a man to possess the implements of an art and to be ignorant of its purpose, for in it is all that is of any value.” James Hannay

“I discipline my body like an athlete,
training it to do what it should….”
1 Corinthians 9:27

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is there a sense in which you are training yourself so you can do “the right thing at the right time in the right way with the right spirit?” (Ortberg)
  • Do you have a “whole-life plan for growth”, or are you just drifting – leaving your development as a person of faith to chance? If you’re not working a plan, why not?
  • Do you realize the importance and value of some of the most praised spiritual practices (e.g., solitude, silence, self-denial, meditation on Scripture)? Do you realize how those same practices can be distractions or dangers – how they can be “useless and meaningless?”

Abba, help me train myself to be the person you created me to be.

For More: Wisdom of the Desert by James Hannay

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Invisible Companionship of God (Thomas Merton and Edward Hays)

“When bed-ridden with some illness, fearful over some approaching event, or directly confronted by some trouble, you have to descend quickly to those roots of your soul to cause that deep fount of joy in your roots to bubble up to the surface. This holy descent takes but a few profoundly trust-filled moments. Once you feel you’ve reached your deepest depths, come to a quiet rest among the tangled roots of your being and inhale deeply the abundant, fertile power of the Divine Presence. Then ascent as quickly as you descended to joyously face in a new way whatever threatens your peace. Do so with confidence for if God is with you, in you, and intimately one with you, who or what can be against you? If you wish to live joyously regardless of circumstances, develop the habit of frequent descents to be nourished by that abiding holy communion with God. To be frequently in a day in consecrated constant communion requires only going into yourself. Those who practice these daily frequent descents and ascents can smile with the singular joy of which the Master promised “…no one can take from you.'” Edward Hays

“The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God. Such a one is alone with God in all places, and he alone truly enjoys the companionship of other men, because he loves them in God in Whom their presence is not tiresome, and because of Whom his own love for them can never know satiety.” Thomas Merton

“I have stilled and quieted my soul.”
Psalm 131:2

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have a way to “come to a quiet rest among the tangled roots of your being?” …to experience the “invisible companionship of God?”
  • This was the practice of King David and of Jesus. Does it seem too mystical to you?
  • Are you developing “the habit of frequent descents to be nourished by that abiding holy communion with God?” …to be “alone with God in all places?”

Abba, help me replace old life-draining habits with new life-giving habits.

For More: No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Most Infallible Sign of the Presence of God (James Martin, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
 .
“In some religious circles, joy, humor, and laughter are viewed as excessive, irrelevant, ridiculous, inappropriate, and even scandalous. But a lighthearted spirit is none of those things. Rather, it is an essential element of a healthy spiritual life and a healthy life in general. When we lose sight of this serious truth, we cease to live life fully, truly, and wholly. Indeed, we fail to be holy. …People seemed fascinated by joy. It’s almost as if they’d been waiting to be told that it’s okay to be joyful believers. Still, many clergy, as well as some devout believers in general, give the impression that being religious means being dour, serious, or even grumpy. Joylessness is nondenominational and interfaith. Religious organizations seem to reward the more serious types; they rise to the top because their dour attitude is perhaps seen as proof of the seriousness of their intent. People’s past experiences with the clergy leads them to equate ministry with melancholy. But the lives of the saints, as well as those of great spiritual masters from almost every other religious tradition, show the opposite. Holy people are joyful. Why? Because holiness brings us closer to God, the source of all joy. Joy, a characteristic of those close to God, is a sign of not only a confidence in God, but also … gratitude for God’s blessings. …Joy, humor, and laughter show one’s faith in God. For Christians, an essentially hopeful outlook shows people that you believe in the Resurrection, in the power of life over death, and in the power of love over hatred.” James Martin
“You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence….”
Psalm 16:11

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you look at your life for signs of spiritual health, do you look for joy? Do you find it?
  • Have you fallen into the trap of blaming your circumstances or temperament for a lack of joy? Of thinking joy is unimportant?
  • Do you spend time in God’s presence in a way that brings you joy? If not, why not?

Abba, you know I’m too often joy-challenged. Fill me with your Spirit, and with joy.

For More:  Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Mystics and Prayer (Abraham Heschel, Macrina Wiederkehr, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Emily Dickenson, Soren Kierkegaard, and David Benner)

“Our need of Him is but an echo of His need of us.” Abraham Heschel

“I strain toward God; God strains toward me.
I ache for God; God aches for me.
Prayer is mutual yearning,
mutual straining,
mutual aching.”
Macrina Wiederkehr

“Closer is he than breathing
and nearer than hands and feet.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson

“The soul should always stand ajar.”
Emily Dickenson

“Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as he likes.” Oswald Chambers

“Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace.” Amy Carmichael

“Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God.”  Soren Kierkegaard

“Just imagine how different your life would be if moment by moment you were constantly open to God. Think of how much your experience of yourself, others and the world would change if you were continuously attuned to the loving presence of God and allowed the life of God to flow into and through you with each breath. …It holds the possibility of helping us move from occasional acts of praying to a life of prayer.” David Benner

“For in him we live and move and exist.
As some of your own poets have said,
‘We are his offspring.’”
Acts 17:28
St. Paul, quoting Epimenides and Aratus

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine a God who “needs” you? …who “aches for you?” (Heschel is an expert in the Hebrew prophets where these ideas recur.)
  • Can you imagine a God who is “closer than your hands and feet?” …in whom you “live and move and exist?”
  • Can the mystic’s aspiration to “creep into God” motivate you to deeper intimacy – to keep your “soul ajar?” … in “a state of expectancy?” …to “leave room for God to come as he likes?” …to “allow his life to flow through you with each breath?”

Abba, satisfy my longing for deeper intimacy with you.

For More: A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”