Day 26 in the School of Prayer : I Have Prayed for You

imageTherefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

You want to express your love and devotion to your beloved. You want to look into her eyes and let her know how you feel about and toward her, your longing to spend all of your days with her. Your heart pounds just thinking about this encounter.

So you bring a friend along and say “My love, Friend here has something to say to you on my behalf.”

Christ in us completely alters the nature of our petitions. As He inhabits us the Spirit helps to form and deliver our earth-bound prayer. It is He who now prays, bringing strength and just the right words to our halting, immature attempts to convey our love and worship of the Father.

The intercession of Jesus goes far beyond the pleading on our behalf as it is so often portrayed. It is not simply, ‘Father, this is my friend…’ It is the your heart beating with the heart of the Lord, your words in tune with His. We are His body, our prayer is His prayer.

Grace and peace to you.

image auntie k

Imaginative Contemplation

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Many Christians are hesitant to engage the spiritual disciplines because they have allowed themselves to be convinced that only the spiritual giants are able to immerse their lives in the practices. Meditation is one of the disciplines that seems to be far out of the reach of the saints. We have a picture in our minds of one sitting cross-legged in a deep state of communion with the divine, completely disconnected from world around them and possessing a peace that you and I cannot seem to find. Looking at this picture we turn away, thinking that we would be unable to attain this state and surrender back to splashing around in the shallows of our life of faith.

Well, erase this image. You have every ability to integrate every one of the spiritual disciplines into your life, starting with meditation. One of the things we learn as we begin to explore meditation is that there are numerous avenues into the practice. One of the easiest ways to begin meditating and linking the mind and the heart is through your imagination. To use the imagination is not to engage in flights of whimsy, forming new stories of our relationship with God based upon our own desires. It is to use the power of your mind to place yourself immediately at the feet of the Master. It is to place yourself in the Upper Room as the Lord speaks to His disciples, you included. Feel how tight the space is filled with people, smell the bread and the wine, see the Lord’s face in the candlelight and watch the shadows dance about the plaster walls. Now, hear the words he speaks:

A new command I give you: Love one another. (John 13:34)

Your imagination will allow you to see his face as he mouths these words. You can look about and see how they strike each of the men present. Judas has gone—would he have recoiled at this statement? Do you? The images of your mind help you to be fully present to the Spirit as He moves the words from your mind into your heart. Have you loved others as the Lord loves you? Do the words pierce your heart or comfort you? Contemplate on the words as the Spirit communicates the truth to you in ways related to your life.

Meditation using the imagination troubles some people as they fear that this sense can be corrupted just as our others can. We have to live with this reality but the question to ask is this; if God can redeem other aspects of our life can He not redeem our imaginations as well? Trust in God and open your mind.

 

Image by OkaySamurai

Building A Contemplative Spirit

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The contemplative life of the Christian has nearly vanished within the Church. In many circles, the contemplative has become a person of church history or more dauntingly, has taken on mythical status. The Christian of 2009 involved in Sunday school, small groups, missions, VBS, midweek service and classes can scarcely imagine finding the unscheduled time for quiet meditation. We who shepherd the Church do little to remedy this situation because we have allowed her to become judged by the values of the world. In doing so, the Christian suffers, the Church grows weaker, and the kingdom mission goes unfulfilled.

Soul work starts quietly, learning to hear the voice of God. Meditation moves us from the superficialities of the world and the shallow Christian life into the deep waters of full communion with God. Meditation is the first discipline of change.

The purpose of meditation in the Christian life is to seek out a transformative encounter with the Living God. We meditate in order to hear His voice and, in reflecting on what we hear, to obey Him and His calling on our lives. The Bible clearly portrays God as desirous of our fellowship and the contemplative practices bring us into His loving embrace. As Thomas a Kempis describes it, we are growing into a “familiar friendship with Jesus.” Activity and busyness may make us feel as though we are participating in the Christian life but we are fooling ourselves. We are living our faith like a stone skipping across a lake; tap…tap…tap…splash! We dip our toes here and there and when challenged we have no internal strength to keep ourselves from sinking. Transformed souls come only from those willing to swim far, far out from shore.

Get ready to swim.

Image by Prahkar