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

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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: The “Benedictine Century” (Joan Chittister)

“The Rule of Benedict was a spiritual document written for males raised in Imperial Rome. But to Roman men in the patriarchal culture who were trained that domination and status and power were their birthright and their purpose in life, the Rule insisted on new ideals: humility, listening, community, equality, and service. …Benedictine spirituality, then, is first and foremost a practical way to live the good news of the gospel today. This society is a complex, consumer society; we can be simple. We can reverence creation. We can refuse to have one thing more than we need. …We can refuse to keep anything we are not using. We can give one thing away for every one thing we receive. …This society exploits. It breaks the back of sugar workers; it destroys farm workers; it wipes out the working person; it discards the middle-aged and forgets the elderly. We can minister to the world by calling for justice. This society dominates and is selfish and has it’s own goals as the inner force of its life. We can be community. We can say by our lives that there are times when it is important for us to step back in life so that others can gain. This society depends on power. We can practice the power of the powerless who show us all how little it really takes to live, how rich life is without riches, how strong are those who cannot be owned…. We can be the voice of those who are not heard and the hands of those who have no bread and the family of those who are alone and the strength of those who are weak. We can be the sign of human community. Finally, this society is anxious and angry and noisy. We can be contemplative. In the midst of chaos, if the Scripture is in our hearts, if we are faithful to lectio, if we build the Jesus-life in our own souls, we can see God where God is. Everywhere. Those are the elements of Benedictine vision that saved the Western world over the centuries again and again and again. Then they can save us from ourselves once more.” Joan Chittister

“even more blessed
are all who hear the word of God
and put it into practice.”
Jesus in Luke 11:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Was God speaking to you at some point in this reading?
  • Do you long to be part of such a community of faith?
  • Have you adopted a “rule of life” which guides your practice of these ideals of Jesus?

Abba, change me as I rediscover and embrace these ancient ideals.

For More: Wisdom Distilled From the Daily by John Chittister

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Thanks for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: A Non-Adversarial Relationship … With Time (Lynn Baab)

John is a 46 year old attorney: “My first monastery experience came … right before a sabbatical I was taking from my law firm. I experienced a kind of tinderbox tension leading up to the sabbatical, trying to get everything done…. As I drove home from work that last day, I was still dictating letters and leaving voicemails on my car phone. As I drove to the monastery the next day, I was revved on coffee, full of energy, and playing loud music on my car stereo. As I followed the road up the hill to the monastery through the cool woods, I could feel myself unwind. …Under the quiet, I could feel waves and waves of fatigue. Under the fatigue, I could feel waves and waves of emptiness. In my week at the monastery, God showed his love to me. In Benedict’s Rule …speech is reserved for necessary things only, and there is a healthy understanding of the dangers of the tongue. During my week at the monastery … by and large I didn’t talk to anyone for a week. In the space where words would have been, there was room for God. …At the monastery I visited, the monks attend a series of seven prayer services every day, beginning at 5:30 a.m. and ending at 7:00 p.m. These prayer services created an incredible sense of rhythm for me. I knew I would be anchored in prayer continually. The services integrated God into the whole day. …I was struck by the monks’ approach to time. It is not adversarial. While I was at the monastery, God was showing me that I always fight time, trying to manage it, buy it, control it. I have too much time or too little time. I’m always struggling with it. The monks always seem to have enough time, just the right amount of time. No one rushes. They live in a rhythm that seems unforced. …At one meal I had an interesting conversation with a monk who works in the book bindery at the monastery. I asked him, ‘What if you were trying to meet a Fed Ex deadline, and the bells rang for the prayer service? What would you do? Would you keep on working to meet the deadline? Would you choose to miss the deadline and go to the prayer service?’ … The monk looked at me as if I were out of my mind.” Lynn Baab

“I call to God … evening, morning and noon….”
Psalm 55:16
Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Do you know a place where “no one rushes?”
  • Do you have an “adversarial relationship” with time?
  • Could stopping for fixed-time prayer each day help you?

Abba, keep me from rushing.

For More: Beyond the Walls by Paul Wilkes

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Thanks for your interest! – Bill

 

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

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Thanks for following and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Necessary Union of Contemplation and Activism (Pete Scazzero, Mother Teresa and Stephen W. Smith)

“Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love.” Erich Fromm

“In Stephen W. Smith’s recent book, Inside Job, he cites the Rule of Life Mother Teresa laid down for her nuns in their work among the sick and dying in Calcutta:

The Sisters shall spend 1 day in every week, 1 week in every month,
1 month in every year, 1 year in every 6 years in the Motherhouse,
where in contemplation and penance together with solitude she can
gather in the spiritual strength, which she might have used up in the
service of the poor.

“Imagine 1 Sabbath day every week, 1 Sabbath week every month, 1 Sabbath month every year, and 1 Sabbath year every 7 years. …Every one of us ministers among the sick and dying. Yet we consistently underestimate how much emotional/spiritual life is flowing out from us. If we are going to have the kind of impact Mother Teresa had, it will require we do less, not more. …Remember, we cannot give what we do not possess….” Pete Scazzero

“God is the friend of silence. His language is silence. And he requires us to be silent to discover him. We need, therefore, silence to be alone with God, to speak to him, to listen to him and to ponder his words deep in our hearts. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and to be transformed. For silence can give us a new outlook on life. In it we are filled with the grace of God, which makes us do all things with joy.” Mother Teresa

“But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster,
and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”
Jesus in Luke 5:15,16

Moving From the Head to the Heart (Scazzero questions)

  • How aware are you of the life that is flowing out of you to others?
  • Our bodies are major, not minor prophets. If your body could speak, what would it be saying to you about the pace of your life today?
  • Are your daily rhythms sufficient for what God has placed before you (Mother Teresa’s nuns spend 3 hours a day in fixed hour prayer)?
  • What adjustments might God be inviting you to make in your weekly, monthly, and annual rhythms?  Often what worked for us in one season (e.g. last year) is not sufficient for the season we are in this year.

Jesus, may I live so that life flows into me from you and out of me to others.

For More: Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa

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If you liked this, please share it! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

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

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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: “Go to God”… But How?

In the Judeo-Christian tradition both heart (Proverbs 4:23) and mind (Romans 12:2) play a critical place in the spiritual life, but true religion can be defined (James 1:27) and measured (Mt. 25:31ff.) without mentioning these things, because as important as correct thinking (doctrine, theology) and proper feeling (affections, passions) are, they pale in significance to proper behavior (lifestyle, practices). Both change of heart and mind are penultimate to change of behavior. Life-change is always the ultimate end in view, always the goal. (James 2:20) Unfortunately, in the churches, the call to character or Christian living is often where the story ends. We’re reminded, motivated, inspired, informed and challenged – but often left to ourselves to figure out how to make it work. Yes, be more patient, loving, compassionate. Yes, be a person of prayer, joy, grace, peace. But how? The ancient answer is new again – practice traditional spiritual disciplines. By them we make space for God to enter our equation. We position ourselves to receive from God and hear from God. By practicing spiritual disciplines we train ourselves to be able to do by the grace of God, what we cannot consistently do now: “the right thing in the right way at the right time for the right reason.” Since the learning-curve of the Christian life extends over a lifetime, we need to return repeatedly to these core practices – just as you would repeatedly work through the “twelve steps” in A.A. or N.A. It’s rare that you hear many of these core practices emphasized in church (e.g., the need to slow down, the need for silence and solitude), and some typical practices might just be off the radar of your particular faith tradition – and for that reason not ever mentioned (contemplative prayer, fixed-time prayer, keeping of a sabbath). We look to God to change us, but merely looking is not enough. Nor is it enough merely to learn more, or try harder. The practice of spiritual disciplines transcends eras of Christian history, continents, cultures and denominations. Christians of influence in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions all testify to its value. As you join me in thoughtfully interacting with the “riches” of this blog, my prayer is that we will all succeed at actually living more the kind of life that Jesus lived. That’s what God wants for us – and what our world needs from us!

 “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you settled for merely more information or inspiration? Is your solution to try harder?
  • What you’re doing to be more like Jesus – is it working?
  • Are you actually training yourself to do “the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reason?”
Abba, keep me moving along the journey of transformation.
.
For More: The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
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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 (with today being a rare exception). 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

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

Daily Riches: Prayer – Submitting Ourselves for Conversion (Joan Chittister)

“Prayer … is not a matter of mood. To pray only when we feel like it is more to seek consolation than risk conversion. To pray only when it suits us is to want God on our terms. To pray only when it is convenient is to make the God-life a very low priority in a list of better opportunities. To pray only when it feels good is to court total emptiness when we most need to be filled. The hard fact is that nobody finds time for prayer. The time must be taken. There will always be something more pressing to do, something more important to be about than the apparently fruitless, empty act of prayer. But when that attitude takes over, we have begun the last trip down a very short road because, without prayer, the energy for the rest of life runs down. The fuel runs out. We become our own worst enemies: we call ourselves too tired and too busy to pray when, in reality, we are too tired and too busy not to pray. Eventually, the burdens of the day wear us down and we no longer remember why we decided to do what we’re doing: work for this project, marry this woman, have these children, minister in this place. And if I cannot remember why I decided to do this, I cannot figure out how I can go on with it. I am tired and the vision just gets dimmer and dimmer. To pray when we cannot, on the other hand, is to let God be our prayer. The spirituality of regularity requires that we turn over our bruised and bleeding and fragmented and distracted selves to the possibility of conversion, in memory and in hope, in good times and in bad, day after day after day, morning and night, this year and next.” Joan Chittister

“always keep on praying”
Ephesians 6:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you hoping to “find time for prayer” or are you making time for prayer? Are you unmotivated because prayer seems “fruitless” and “empty?”
  • Chittister suggests that by prayer (fixed-time daily prayers over months and years) “we turn over our bruised and bleeding and fragmented and distracted selves to the possibility of conversion.” Is this the kind of prayer you’re praying?

Abba, help me to always pray and not lose heart.

For More: Wisdom Distilled From the Daily by Joan Chittister

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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. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Boring Prayer, Perpetual Prayer (Joan Chittister)

“When I was a young monastic, I found prayer a long boring interruption of life. It was not anything the spiritual books and biographies of the period promised it would be. It was not sweet. It did not give me personal consolation. It simply cluttered the day with annoying distractions. Surely my work with students was more important than running in and out of chapel for group recitation of prayers that had nothing whatsoever to do with me or what I was doing at the time. Where were the lights? Where were the insights? Where were the lovely visions of God reported by the saints, assumed by the public, and expected by the spiritually immature? Little by little, I learned. …Benedict called for prayer at regular intervals of each day, right in the middle of apparently urgent and important work. The message is unequivocal. Let no one forget what they are really about. Let no one forget why they have really come to this life. Let no one forget the purpose of life. Let no one forget to remember. Ever. Benedictine spirituality is not a spirituality of escape; Benedictine spirituality is a spirituality that fills time with an awareness of the presence of God …if we keep our souls tied to a consciousness of God as the Rule directs, even in the face of things of apparently greater or more immediate value, then consciousness of God becomes a given. …We pray to see life as it is, to understand it, and to make it better than it was. We pray so that reality can break into our souls and give us back our awareness of the Divine Presence in life.” Joan Chittister

“Pray continually.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you adapted a daily routine where you pray at fixed times – so that your day is more permeated “with an awareness of the presence of God?”
  • Do you stop whatever you’re doing to pray at those times whenever possible? …refusing to offer your “important and urgent work” as an excuse to skip it?
  • If you don’t have such a practice, do you have another way to stay present to and conscious of God throughout the day?
  • Do you have a friend to encourage you on this kind of journey?

Abba, help me to be more aware of your constant presence.

For More: Wisdom Distilled From the Daily by Joan Chittister

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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: Thinking, Feeling, Behaving, Becoming

In the Judeo-Christian tradition both heart (Proverbs 4:23) and mind (Romans 12:2) play a critical place in the spiritual life, but true religion can be defined (James 1:27) and measured (Mt. 25:31ff.) without regard to these things, because the spiritual life is more than just correct thinking (doctrine, theology) and proper feeling (affections, passions). True religion involves behavior (lifestyle, practices). Both heart and mind are penultimate to behavior. Life-change is always the ultimate end in view, always the goal. We know from James, that faith without works is dead (James 2:20), and from Paul that faith leads to obedience (Romans 1:5). The Bible emphasizes these works and this obedience in its ubiquitous calls for love, compassion, understanding and generosity towards others – and in giving God the affection and honor that he deserves. Unfortunately, in the churches, this call to character or Christian lifestyle is often where the story ends. We’re reminded, motivated, inspired, informed and challenged – but often left to ourselves to figure out how to make it work. Yes, be more patient, loving, compassionate. Yes, be a person of prayer, joy, grace, peace. But how? The ancient answer is new again – spiritual disciplines. By them we make space for God to enter our equation. We position ourselves to receive from God and to hear from God. By practicing spiritual disciplines we train ourselves* to be able to do by the grace of God, what we cannot consistently do now: “the right thing in the right way at the right time for the right reason.” The “riches” that I share highlight the value of proven spiritual disciplines and repeatedly remind of them – since we often know, but also forget, what is most important. And since the learning-curve of the Christian life is long (a life-time), we need to return repeatedly to these core practices – practices that you might not often hear emphasized in church (the need to slow down, the need for silence and solitude), or things that aren’t typical in your faith tradition, and not mentioned for that reason (contemplative prayer, fixed-time prayer, keeping of a sabbath). We look to God to change us, but merely looking is not enough. Nor is it enough to learn more, or try harder. Historic spiritual disciplines transcend eras of Christian history, continents, cultures and denominations. Christians of influence in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions all testify to their value. As you prayerfully interact with this blog, I hope you will find value in them as well, and that starting with me, we’ll all end up looking more like Jesus.

* “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you settled for merely more information or inspiration?
  • What you’re doing to be more like Jesus – is it working?
  • Are you actually training yourself “to do the right thing … for the right reason?
Abba, keep me moving along the journey of transformation.
.
For More: The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
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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 (with today being a rare exception). I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Learning Prayer, Prioritizing Prayer (John Eudes Bamburger and Henri Nouwen)

In The Genesee Diary, Henri Nouwen records his experiment with life in a Trappist Monastery: “…I put this question to [my spiritual director] John Eudes: ‘How can I really develop a deeper prayer life when I am back again at my busy work? …as long as I remain surrounded by unfinished tasks, my prayer is nearly impossible since I use the time for prayer to wonder about the many things I still have to do. It always seems that there is something more urgent and more important than prayer.’ John Eudes’ answer was clear and simple: ‘The only solution is a prayer schedule that you will never break without consulting your spiritual director. Set a time that is reasonable, and once it is set, stick to it at all costs. Make it your most important task. Let everyone know that this is the only thing you will not change and pray at that time. One hour in the morning before work and a half hour before you go to bed might be a good start. Set the exact time and hold on to it. Leave a party when that time approaches. Simply make it an impossibility to do any type of work, even if it seems urgent, important, and crucial. When you remain faithful, you slowly discover that is is useless to think about your many problems since they won’t be dealt with in that time anyhow. …So praying becomes as important as eating and sleeping, and the time set free for it becomes a very liberating time to which you become attached in the good sense.’ …It seems very convincing to me [Nouwen says], even obvious. The only task left is this: simply doing it in obedience.” Henry Nouwen
 .
“devote yourselves to prayer”
1 Corinthians 7:5

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does it always seem to you like there is “something more urgent and more important than prayer?”
  • Would you consider making a reasonable, but essentially inflexible plan for fixed-time prayers?
  • Regular daily prayer is “as important as eating and sleeping.” You probably protect your sleeping and eating time. Isn’t it “obvious” that you must also plan for and protect your praying time? How will you do that?

Abba, teach me a faithfulness in prayer that results in liberation from my self-imposed, misguided tyranny.

For More: The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen (more from Bamburger from this diary entry)

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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: Shove Back the High Anxiety (C. S. Lewis and Edna St. Vincent Milay)

“The the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.” C. S. Lewis

“The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat — the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.”
Edna St. Vincent Milay

“As for me, I call to God,
and Yahweh saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
Psalm 55:16-17

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is it a “real problem” not to start each day by shoving back “all your wishes and hopes for the day?” Has your conviction led to a regular practice?
  • If you “hit the ground running” in the morning, do you have another way of ensuring that you let “that other, larger, stronger life come flowing in?” that you hear “that other voice?” What is it?
  • Lewis says we need to “stand back” from all our natural “fussings and frettings” – we need to “come in out of the wind” – and he means “all day.” Fixed-time prayer through the day is helpful in this regard, since it can involve “shoving back” the anxiety repeatedly as the day unfolds. It’s a constant battle to prevent the world from “pinching your heart.” (Milay) If you’re not praying at fixed times each day, why not try it for a week? Give God an opening and see what He does.

Abba, give me a soul that can withstand the pressures of the world.

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For More: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

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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.”