Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Be still and know....

Martha, Martha had some pointed questions about prayer over here, and she's gotten some marvelous answers. I've been back a couple times, and I'm amazed by the truly inspired comments she's gotten. You need to take some time and read through 'em.

It's funny, in a way, because I've been struggling with my prayer life lately, and this has been part of my journey back, I guess. So I posted this meditation technique over there, and thought I would share it here. Like almost everything that has any spiritual value in my life, it's stolen from someone else in the recovery community. This is what I shared with her...
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I am usually a dismal failure at this [meditation]. And to be honest, my prayer life has sucked lately - not that I don't know HOW to pray, but I'm afraid of the next answers, to be honest. I was thrilled with the LAST set of answers and directions I got from Upstairs - but not with how things turned out when I followed 'em...

Nonetheless, you asked about prayer, and this is one technique which I've used a lot, both personally and with people new to recovery and new to a relationship with God. In a way, it's a spiritual formation meditation, because it forces me to ask some questions about my understanding of God. And, interestingly enough, it comes from the title of your post...

Eyes closed, in a quiet place, I say the phrase: "Be still and know that I am God." And then I take one word off...and fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind.

"Be still and know that I am..." loving, accepting, forgiving, all powerful, not going to drop you...

"Be still and know that I..." want the best for you, love you infinitely, value you exactly as you are...

And so on. The last one is simply "Be..." happy, at peace, present for My other kids...

I suppose you could call this a praxis prayer - action, then reflection.

Interestingly enough, I also had one AA sponsee who was WAY hyperactive (coming down off crystal meth). He ran - a lot - and I suggested just repeating this phrase over and over, one word per step: be-still-and-know...

It's just simple enough that it works for spiritually-damaged folks like me.

5 comments:

BruceD said...

I think that's an odd way of looking at prayer. If I was your best friend and spent every moment of every day by your side, would you just talk to me as certain times, and in a certain way?

Our very real creator is with us always. He is in us, and all around us. We fool ourselves to think we can escape him, and summon him at particular times to say particular things.

I don't see prayer as an event, but as a part of enjoying life with the Father. It is a joy to know that he is always with me, and sharing my life, as he desires me to share in His.

To feel under obligation to make some special effort to communicate with him is not understanding that we are always communicating with Him. Is God only real when we take time to call on him? Is he only there when we summon him? Is his connection to us only available when we follow a particular formula? Is it really that complicated?

I don't know much really, but I love to share the good news of the availability of intimacy with God. He is close, but we like to think of him as distant... only being there when we want him. The good news is, he is here, and he's not mad at us.

Keith Brenton said...

Different prayers work at different times for different people.

Jesus' "Lord's Prayer" is a far cry from his prayer in John 17, or His prayer in the garden for the cup to pass.

I'm looking forward to a few quiet moments and trying this one you suggest from the Psalms!

Thanks, Steve.

Steve F. said...

Great reflections. I appreciate y'all stopping by to comment.

It is an odd way of looking at prayer, Bruce - as I said, I was sharing with M2 about different ways to pray and meditate. This one's primarily targeted to people who are still coming to understand a concept of God that is ever-present, all-loving and all-encompassing - or to people who are struggling with "just talking to God," at whatever stage of spiritual formation they may be. When I've used it, it makes me respond to some fundamental questions about how I understand God to be... and that's usually a good affirmation of faith.

And I've used this - even recently - when I've started to find things like What the hell is going on, God? in my prayers. When I'm struggling like that - when fear, anger, resentment, and doubt are clouding my relationship with God - something simple and structured seems to work, when my library of books on prayer, and my Bible, sit collecting dust on my shelves, and I'm feeling "apart from God" rather than "a part of God's plan."

It's certainly not how I would choose to pray on a regular basis (you may be surprised, based on what you might read in some of my postings, but I really do know better). But when the main parachute has failed (as it's prone to do when my thinking takes precedence), simple little rituals like this work as an "emergency 'chute" to bring me back safely to where I belong.

(But I am going to steal your comments as a great outline for talking with some of my recovering friends about prayer, Bruce...great words.)

Anonymous said...

Love the concept of your "Be still and know..." meditation. I'm going to try it when I choose to squeeze some stillness into my life. Note the word "choose" - stillness does not come naturally to me. I do know that God is always with me BUT...I think the way we pray and meditate has much to do with our personality style. I'm energised by people not by stillness, but, it is for this very reason that I find God most present when I choose to step outside the normality of my routine into the intentionality of seeking Him.
By the way, Steve, because I encounter God best through relationship with others, I've actually begun using your site as part of my regular devotion/meditation. It's part of my "on line" connection to God. I love the authenticity with which you take me to the heart of God. Keep on writing because that way you will keep on blessing. Your denomination may not allow you to be a "dog collar" minister but you are a minister - even to people like me in far away Australia.
David

the reverend mommy said...

I use this one quite often. I'm mulling around some thoughts about written prayer, memorized prayer, corporate prayer, traditional prayers and extemporanous prayer.

I never fill in the blank, though. Each time you take a word off, the verse reverbs differently.
"Be still and know that I am" reminds me of the I am statments from John and the "I am that I am" from Exodus.

"Be still and know that I" focuses my attention back on God.

And so on.