Daily Riches: Skipping the Appointed Hour of Prayer (Abraham Heschel)

“Of all the sacred acts, first comes prayer.” Abraham Heschel

“About a hundred years ago Rabbi Isaac Meir Alter of Ger pondered over the question of what a certain shoemaker of his acquaintance should do about his morning prayer. His customers were poor men who owned only one pair of shoes. The shoemaker used to pick up their shoes at a late evening hour, work on them all night and part of the morning, in order to deliver them before their owners had to go to work. When should the shoemaker say his morning prayer? Should he pray quickly the first thing in the morning, and then go back to work? Or should he let the appointed hour of prayer go by and, every once in a while, raising his hammer from the shoes, utter a sigh: ‘Woe unto me, I haven’t prayed yet!’? Perhaps that sign is worth more than prayer itself. We, too, face this dilemma of wholehearted regret or perfunctory prayer, waiting for an urge that is complete, sudden, and unexampled. But the unexampled is scarce, and perpetual refraining can easily grow into a habit. We may even come to forget what to regret, what to miss.” Heschel

“Of all things we do prayer is the least expedient, the least worldly, the least practical. This is why prayer is an act of self-purification. This is why prayer is an ontological necessity.” Heschel

“To avoid prayer constantly is to force a gap between man and God which can widen into an abyss.” Heschel

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple
at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.”
Acts 3:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The practice of daily prayer at fixed times has long been part of the practice of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. If it’s not your practice, have you ever considered its merits? . . . how might it benefit you?
  • Scheduled prayer can become “perfunctory.” Why be involved in something like that? What does Heschel say?
  • Practical pressures easily make prayer seem “the least expedient . . . the least practical” thing to do. In what way might stopping to pray at scheduled times be an “an act of self-purification” for you? Is prayer the “first” of all your sacred acts?

Abba, bring me back to you over and over throughout the day. I’m ever drifting.

For More: Man’s Quest For God by Abraham Heschel

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Daily Riches: God Has the Last Laugh (Donald McCullough, William Bausch)

“If God can succumb to the limitation–death–and transform it . . . into the world’s salvation . . . then we can move beyond optimism into an assured hope that our own death will become a doorway into life, a translation into an order of being that we cannot now comprehend. This being the case, we have good reason to believe that all the other limitations, while difficult and often painful, will also become, in the hands of God, instruments of healing and growth that will finally make possible the fulfillment of joy. God has the last laugh, in other words. There is an ancient Russian Orthodox tradition that devotes the day after Easter to sitting around a table and telling jokes. Why? According to William J. Bausch,

They were imitating that cosmic joke that God pulled on Satan in the resurrection. Satan thought he had won, and was smug in his victory, smiling to himself, having had the last word. So he thought. Then God raised Jesus from the dead, and life and salvation become the last words. And the whole world laughed at the devil’s discomfort. This attitude passed into the medieval concept of hilaritas, which did not mean mindless giggling, but that even at the moment of disaster one may wink because he or she knows there is a God.

The limitations of life, by themselves, are no joke. There is nothing funny about bodies wearing out, relationships coming to grief, achievements falling short, money running out, time slipping away, or any of the others. But when we view these things in the light of Easter, we must wink, if not laugh. We know that the story is not yet finished; if it now seems like a tragedy, it will, by an astonishing turn of events, become a comedy.” Donald McCullough

“May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.”
Matthew 6:10 NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • It’s hard to face the tragedy in our world. Can you periodically “go there?”
  • Are you praying daily for the soon coming of God’s kingdom? If not, why not?
  • Can you move “beyond optimism?” Can you laugh no matter how dark the times?

Jesus, may you find me neither in denial, numb or overwhelmed by the tragedy everywhere in my world. In our darkness shine your light.

For More: The Consolations of Imperfection by Donald McCullough

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Daily Riches: God Often Keeps Us Waiting (J. I. Packer, Annie Dillard, Henri Nouwen, Søren Kierkegaard, and Jeanie and David Gushee)

“. . . ‘Wait on the Lord’ is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.” J. I. Packer

“The death of the self of which the great writers speak is no violent act. It is merely the joining of the great rock heart of the earth in its roll. It is merely the slow cessation of the will’s sprints and the intellect’s chatter: it is waiting like a hollow bell with stilled tongue. Fuge, tace, quiesce. The waiting itself is the thing.” Annie Dillard

“The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means ‘to suffer.’ Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants. Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming.” Henri Nouwen

“As my prayer became more attentive and inward
I had less and less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen–
which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learnt that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To prayer does not mean to listen to oneself speaking,
Prayer involves becoming silent,
And being silent,
And waiting until God is heard.”
Søren Kierkegaard

“Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived, no eye has seen
any God besides you, who acts
on behalf of those who wait for him.”
Isaiah 64:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you in a hurry?
  • Can you adjust yourself to a God who is “not in such a hurry?”
  • Do you pay attention to “what is happening right before [your] eyes?

“Some wait in confident expectation–others wait in quiet desperation. This night I close my eyes in darkness and yearn for Your Light, brighter than a thousand suns.” (Jeanie and David Gushee)

For More: Knowing God by J. I. Packer

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Daily Riches: The Imperialism of the Self . . . In Marriage (Frank Sheed)

“Marriage . . . is not all magic. Husband and wife must work hard at it. If one is making no effort, the other must work twice as hard. Love helps, though it is precisely love that is in danger of losing its elan with so much to depress it; prayer helps tremendously. But, in the purely psychological order, nothing helps so much as the reverence that flows from a right vision of what man is–that this loutish man, this empty-headed woman, is God’s image, an immortal spirit, loved by Christ even to the death of the Cross: whatever the surface looks like, this is in the depth of every human being, this in him is what God joined together with this in her. The realization that there is this welding of two into one in the depths of their being, below the level that the eye of the mind can see, is the most powerful incentive to make that union in depth effective through every layer of personality. This reverence is a safeguard against one of the great dangers of family life–the tendency of one partner to form, or re-form, the other . . . in his [or her] own image. There is a sort of imperialism to which the self is liable, the desire to impose its own likeness. As we have already seen, one should not lightly try to re-make another: but, if re-making there must be, assuredly the only image in which any one should be re-made is the image of God in which he [or she] was made.” Frank J. Sheed

“Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have a “right vision” of who you are? . . . of your spouse? Take some time to picture your spouse as God’s beloved image-bearer, as one treasured by God.
  • Prayer and loving like Jesus (Ephesians 5:25) will also be necessary. Are you praying God’s blessing on your spouse? How does your love for your spouse resemble God’s love for you?
  • Do you have an “imperialistic” attitude where you’re insisting on what you know is best for your spouse? Can you humble yourself instead, and allow God to work in your spouse (and in you) in God’s way and time?

Abba, I need your work in me. I’ll leave my spouse to you. Help us both.

For more: Marriage and the Family by Frank J. Sheed

Daily Riches: The First Rule of Prayer (Ronald Rolheiser)

“What eventually makes us stop praying, John of the Cross says, is simple boredom, tiredness, lack of energy. It’s hard, very hard, existentially impossible, to crank-up the energy, day in and day out, to pray with real affectivity, real feeling, and real heart. . . . We’re human beings, limited in our energies, and chronically too-tired, dissipated, and torn in various directions to sustain prayer on the basis of feelings. . . . Monks have secrets worth knowing and anyone who has ever been to a monastery knows that monks (who pray often and a lot) sustain themselves in prayer not through feeling, variety, or creativity, but through ritual, rhythm, and routine. . . . Too commonly, we accept the following set of axioms as wise: Creativity and variety are always good. . . . Longer is better than shorter. Either you should pray with feeling or you shouldn’t pray at all. Ritual is meaningless unless we are emotionally invested in it.[1] Each of these axioms is over-romantic, ill thought-out, anthropologically naive, and not helpful in sustaining a life a prayer. Prayer is a relationship, a long-term one, and lives by those rules. Relating to anyone long-term has its ups and downs. Nobody can be interesting all the time, sustain high energy all the time, or fully invest himself or herself all the time. Never travel with anyone who expects you to be interesting, lively, and emotionally-invested all the time. Real life doesn’t work that way. Neither does prayer. What sustains a relationship long-term is . . . a regular rhythm that incarnates the commitment. . . . . the great spiritual writers have always said that there is only one, non-negotiable, rule for prayer: ‘Show up! Show up regularly!’ The ups and downs of our minds and hearts are of secondary importance.” Ronald Rolheiser

 “Devote yourselves to prayer.”
Colossians 4:2 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you sometimes just too tired, too overwhelmed–or honestly simply too unmotivated to pray? Welcome, fellow pilgrim.
  • Are you trying to be someone who prays regularly without having a “routine” or “rhythm” or “practice?” Is that working?
  • Why not make a specific plan for daily prayer (be realistic)–and then just begin “showing up?” See what happens.

Abba, I refuse to leave my communion with you to chance. I know you’re waiting. I’m going to show up.

For more: Prayer: Our Deepest Longing by Ronald Rolheiser.

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Thanks for reading, following and sharing these “Daily Riches!” Look for my upcoming book –Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings for more of these provocative quotes, questions, and prayers.

[1] my emphasis

Sources:

Rolheiser, Ronald. “The Value of Ritual in Sustaining Prayer.” http://ronrolheiser.com/the-value-of-ritual-in-sustaining-prayer/#.WuDLHMgh2Rs.

Daily Riches: The Longest Journey … The Journey Inward (Howard Thurman, Geri Scazzero and Dag Hammarsjold)

“We have become adept at exploring outer space, but we have not developed similar skills in exploring our own personal inner spaces. In fact the longest journey is the journey inward.” Dag Hammarsjold

“All travelers, somewhere along the way, find it necessary to check their course, to see how they are doing. We wait until we are sick, or shocked into stillness, before we do the commonplace thing of getting our bearings. And yet, we wonder why we are depressed, why we are unhappy, why we lose our friends, why we are ill-tempered. This condition we pass on to our children, our husbands, our wives, our associates, our friends. Cultivate the mood to linger. …Who knows? God may whisper to you in the quietness what [God] has been trying to say to you, oh, for so long a time.” Howard Thurman

“Honoring our different rhythms involves respecting and negotiating our needs and preferences at work, with friends, at church, in our marriage, our extended families, and even our parenting. To begin listening to your inner rhythms, consider the following questions: Do you know when it is time to be with people and when it is time to be alone? Do you know when it is time to rest or time to play? What are your most optimal work hours? How much sleep to you need? When is it time to eat? Is it time for you to wait on something or is it time to move on? How does the pace of our life feel? What can you do to establish an enjoyable routine and healthy balance in this season of your life? And finally, what are the one or two changes you can make in order to get more in step with your God-given inner rhythms?” Geri Scazzero

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you cultivating the “ability to linger?” …to be quiet enough for long enough to sense what God is showing you about your life?
  • Have you been listening to your “inner rhythms?” …asking the kind of practical questions Scazzero suggests?
  • What changes can you make to the way you live to build in more lingering and listening?

Abba, I know not everything is fine, and that you can show me where change is needed. Help me to listen for that.

For More: I Quit! by Gerri Scazzero

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

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: Feeling Joy In a World of Pain (Lynne Baab)

“I find it quite challenging to accept the notion that we have some sort of responsibility before God to enjoy the good things of life. For most of my adult life, I’ve had an inner dialogue running through my brain along these lines: ‘How can I truly enjoy this wonderful event when 22,000 children will die today of the effects of hunger?’ – ‘How can I relish this beautiful weather when 11.4 million Syrians are displaced from their homes?’ Ever since my mid-twenties, I’ve been much, much better at mourning with those who mourn rather than rejoicing with those who rejoice. However, I’m doing better these days enjoying God’s good gifts. I want to reflect on how that happened. …

The Sabbath.  …In Jewish tradition, prayers of intercession are not appropriate on the Sabbath because it’s a day of rest. In contrast, prayers of thankfulness are encouraged. On my Sabbath day, when I start thinking about any kind of pain in the world, the kind of situations that might motivate prayers of intercession, I tell myself, You can think about that and pray about it tomorrow. Today’s focus is rest and being present to all of God’s good gifts.’ Over many years, that Sabbath habit has helped me turn off anxiety and sorrow, albeit briefly, and focus on the gifts of the moment. …

The Psalms. In the Psalms, confession, lament, praise and thanks recur over and over, reinforcing in my mind that there is a time for everything and that life should be lived in a rhythm. Yes, it is completely appropriate to grieve over Syria and to pray for refugees. But it is equally appropriate to stop and look and enjoy the beautiful clear eyes of a small child or a flower newly unfurled.

This reality has become more real to me over time as I have practiced lack of worry and sorrow on the Sabbath and as I have practiced thankfulness. My habits have changed my thoughts. None of the shifts described here happened very quickly for me. But I can see movement over time, and I have to say that after decades of feeling so much sorrow and sadness, having a good number of moments of joy is pretty wonderful.” Lynne Baab

““For everything there is a season…
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you like a break from “feeling so much sorrow and sadness” over our pain-filled world?
  • Do you have a day in your weekly calendar where you can allow yourself to be “sorrow free?”
  • Can you see the value in such a day?

Abba, let me both weep and rejoice as I should.

For more: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog. – Bill

Daily Riches: Spirituality as Balance (Lynn Baab)

“Esther de Waal, in her book Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality, uses the language of paradox and contradiction to describe Benedict’s genius as he interprets the Gospel of Jesus Christ into everyday life. We are called to find God in this place and to seek the peace and discipline of stability, yet we are also called to grow and change and be willing to move. We are called to welcome strangers and accept them for who they are, yet we are not called to change our own priorities as we welcome them. Many, including de Waal, use the word ‘balance’ to describe the life patterns laid out by Benedict. We are called to prayer, work, study, and rest in fairly equal proportions. Each is important, but to overemphasize any one of them would be unhealthy. Benedict invites us to embrace the balance between community, where we live and work, and time alone for prayer and reflection. Benedict encourages us to engage in self-reflection without self-absorption and to strive for sincere repentance without dwelling excessively on our shortcomings. Benedict calls us to a radical obedience that sees all of life as a response to God’s voice and God’s initiative, yet we are not encouraged to strain for that kind of obedience. In fact, Benedict encourages us to accept that we will fail as often as we succeed. We are called to believe that we have enough today, in this moment, while we also acknowledge that we are looking to heaven for our ultimate fulfillment. The grace of God overflows in every moment, in every place, and in every human life, and Benedict’s balance is firmly rooted in God’s character and God’s presence with us.” Lynne Baab

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Baab mentions many areas. Where do you still need to work on balance?
  • How are you doing in terms of a balanced life when it comes to “prayer, work, study, and rest?” What does your answer say about you?
  • Do you practice “self-reflection?” Can you do that without “self-absorption?”
  • Can you seek to practice “radical obedience” but not “strive”, even for that? What would that mean?

Abba, help me as I recalibrate daily, in my balancing act with you and my world.

For More: Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality by Esther de Waal

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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. 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: 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: A Silent Conversation of the Soul with God (Brother Lawrence, Pete Scazzero)

“God invites us to practice the presence of people within an awareness of His presence. That is no small task, especially at this time of year.
How then can we do this? By intentionally practicing His presence first. No greater teacher can offer us insight on how to do this better than Brother Lawrence, a 16th century Carmelite from Paris. I reread The Practice of the Presence of God every couple of years to remind myself of his simple, timeless wisdom. Here are a few of his gems for you to prayerfully consider this Christmas:

  • I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence…or, to speak better, a habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God.
  • The time of business does not differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of the kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees.
  • His prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of God.
  • As for set hours of prayer, they are only a continuation of the same exercise…simple attention and passionate regard to God.
  • (He) resolved to use his utmost endeavor to live in a continual sense of His presence, and, if possible never to forget Him.

Jesus said it simply: If we remain in Him, we will bear abundant fruit (i.e. not so much us holding a position, but allowing ourselves to be held). If we don’t, we won’t give anything lasting or substantial. May we practice His presence this Christmas and, in so doing, offer our presence to those around us.” Pete Scazzero

“Be still in the presence of the Lord”
Psalm 37:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • To what degree is your life “a habitual, silent, and secret conversation of your soul with God?”
  • Can you “possess God in great tranquility” in the midst of something like the “noise and clatter of the kitchen?”
  • Perhaps instead of asking whether we can do what Brother Lawrence did, we would do well to see that we are “practicing” as he did–regularly giving God our “simple attention and passionate regard.”

Abba, teach me to practice never forgetting you through the hours of my day–always giving you my loving attention.

For More: Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

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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: 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

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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: Setting an Intention for Worship and Wonder (Christian Panders and Paul Murray)

“We prepare the children before they go in [to Children’s church] with the expectations as to what it means to enter that space: ‘Are you ready to be with God?’ They take their shoes off, and they look you in the eye, and if they say ‘No.’ then they can wiggle out in the hall until they’re ready, and when they say ‘Yes’ they’re expected to take a seat and listen and participate. …Oh, I would love to start church that way. …we haven’t really trained people on how do you help people prepare to be in a worshipful state of mind. There is more attention to that in a yoga session than there is in worship. People will come and be present, and do some breathing, and prepare themselves to be in their bodies and fully present to what’s happening in yoga more than they would in a worship service. In my opinion, in the many thousands of worship services I have attended in my life, very few start with ‘setting an intention.'”  (Homebrewed Christianity)

“Considering God not so much as an ‘object’ outside of ourselves, for whose greater glory we undertake all our different works, but rather as a ‘subject’ alive within and around us, a divine Presence, ‘in whom we live and move and have our being,’ is a notion explored [by] Thomas Merton. Merton … makes a distinction between two kinds of intention, a right intention and a simple intention. When we have a right intention … ‘we seek to do God’s will’ but ‘we consider the work and ourselves apart from God and outside of Him.’ But ‘when we have a simple intention, we…do all that we do not only for God but, so to speak, in Him. We are more aware of Him who works in us than of ourselves or of our work.’” Paul Murray

“You will fill me with joy in your presence.”
Psalm 16:11

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you arrive at church “ready to be with God” or are you more poised to “wiggle out in the hall?”
  • Do you do anything so as to be “fully present” in worship?
  • Do you have a “simple intention” for the worship service? Is your intention to drop your guardedness with God and let him have his way in your life? Do you remind yourself at the start of every service?

Lord, let us be done with merely going through the motions of worship.

For More: The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality by Paul Murray

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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 read my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less.  Bill

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
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“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

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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)

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