My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
Reflection: The Practice of Meditation :: Running
By John Tillman
If the elevator is out and you have to climb fifteen flights of stairs, going outside and running a mile first won’t help much. But if you have been running a mile every day for two months, when you need to climb the stairs, the increased lung capacity and strength you have gained will be there to support you.
One way of thinking of meditative prayer is exercise to expand your spiritual lung capacity, allowing you to breathe in God’s spirit more naturally at any time—including during a crisis.
Today we will explore an imaginative guide for meditation on the scripture. We will use the visual image of walking or running to aid us in an analogy of exploring scripture. You can practice this exercise using your imagination while sitting still. Later, if you wish, you can repeat the experience while actually walking around a track or a park or even your apartment or office.
Meditative prayer, especially for beginners, is best begun with scripture. Memorized scripture is helpful, but not necessary. Reading the passage repetitively can be equally helpful. Choose a short passage of scripture. A couple lines from today’s psalms passage would work well. Perhaps Psalm 78.1-3 or Psalm 78.38-39.
Read the passage several times, while simultaneously asking God, through prayer to meet with you and speak to your through this passage.
Now imagine running or walking on an extremely short running track—no more than a tenth of a mile. The repetitive action of circling the track over and over will mirror the repetitive action of reading the scripture in meditation.
Imagine the scripture written on the pathway of the track. Imagine treading each word as you read it. Another option would be to imagine making one circuit of the track each time you read the scripture. Remember your goal isn’t “distance,” to read the passage many times, but depth, to hear God’s spirit speak to you through his word.
Don’t feel pressured to have some surpassingly great breakthrough. To stick with the running analogy, you aren’t going to hit a four-minute mile your first time out. Be humble. Be persistent. Be steady.
It is not God’s ability to speak that must grow, it is our ability to listen.
Prayer: The Morning Psalm
I will listen to what the Lord God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him… — Psalm 85.8
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.
Ezekiel 29 (Listen – 3:43)
Psalm 78.1-39 (Listen – 7:12)
Read More about Finding Words to Pray
The remedy for spiritual dryness is prayer saturated with scripture. When we pray the words of scripture they enliven our prayers by allowing God’s word to blossom inside our heart, mind, and soul.
Read More about Praying Through the Stress of Work
The beauty of the psalms is they are not simply inspiration and instruction, but example. In hearing and praying through the psalms we find spiritual vitality in a world austere to the divine.
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