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Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

Spiritual toolbox part 5: Lectio Divina meditation

In Spiritual Toolbox on May 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Lectio Divina

What is it?
The first time I heard about Lectio Divina was two years ago on a silent retreat. I read this book by Anselm Gruen: ‘Bronnen van spiritualiteit’ (sources of spirituality) which handled the topic of this ancient Benedictine meditation practice.

Daily life in a Benedictine monastery consisted of three elements: liturgical prayer, manual labor and Lectio Divina: a quiet prayerful reading of the Bible. This slow and thoughtful reading of Scripture, and the ensuing pondering of its meaning, is their meditation. This spiritual practice is called “divine reading”, “sacred reading”, or lectio divina

Lectio Divina has been likened to “Feasting on the Word.” The four parts are

  1. first taking a bite (Lectio),
  2. then chewing on it (Meditatio).
  3. next is the opportunity to savor the essence of it (Oratio).
  4. finally, the Word is digested and made a part of the body (Contemplatio).

What do you need?

  • the decision to take some time out of your day every day, for example 20 to 30 minutes.
  • a candle, an image or an icon of Christ or a Bible to look at
  • a dedicated space to sit down comfortably
  • a passage from the Bible
  • pen and paper

How to do it?
Preparation

  • Sit somewhere comfortable (like on a pillow) and breathe slowly.
  • Close your eyes or keep them open. Do whatever gives you the least distraction.
  • Be silent.
  • Be present to God/Jesus and focused on Him alone. If you experience thoughts, imagine throwing them in a stream of water and letting them float along.
  • Accept all your present emotions: stress, restlessness… They are present. Accept them and they will lessen.
  • Greet God, thank Him that He loves you. Open your heart to Him. Trust that He wants to be with you too.

Meditation


Lectio (reading)

  • Read a small passage from the Bible out loud.

Meditatio (reflection)

  • Start pondering a word (or a few words) from the text that particularly speaks to you. Chew and re-chew it so that it can do something to you. It is more important that the word is doing something to us than that we do something to the word. Let the word sink into your heart.

Oratio (response)

  • Every time you are distracted, you speak the word in order to let it bring you back into silence. Then be silent. Be focused on Him, be present in the moment, you don’t have to do anything. Let your heart speak to God.

Contemplatio (rest)

  • Let go of your own ideas and plans. And you can go deeper: let go of your holy words and thoughts. Simply rest in the Word of God. Listen at the deepest level to God who speaks within you with a still, small voice.

Conclusion
Conclude with a simple prayer of thanksgiving, greeting or signing yourself with a cross: in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Of course all of this takes practice. I personally find it really hard to take the very first step to find the rest to actually sit down and be quiet. I often feel a fear of failure or an urge to be busy. I ask God to help me with this and to grow in intimacy with Him despite my own thoughts and feelings.

What are your experiences in Christian meditation? Please feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter.

Sources:

  1. wikipedia.org
  2. ‘Nieuwe wegen, oude bronnen’ by Victor van Heusden (‘New paths, old sources)
  3. United Church of Christ
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Grace

In Jesus Christ on April 2, 2010 at 11:57 am

Today is Good Friday…

Jesus died for us. We are not alone. He was.

Thank You for your grace oh Lord

I encourage you all to have a look and a listen at the Youtube video. A picture speaks more than a thousand words. Here is an English translation I made of the lyrics.

Look how Jesus is walking there in Jerusalem,
with a cross on his back and a crown of thorns.
Hear the people scream:
‘Crucify Him!’
That’s how God gave His only Son.

See the Lamb on the cross,
there on Golgotha,
as the king of the Jews He was despised.
See His love for us in His eyes
when He cries: ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit’

Chorus:
Yes I thank You for your grace oh Lord
that You carried the cross for me
You show me your mercies time and again
Your grace is enough for me.

In the kingdom of death he descended
Yes out of love He did this
But the tombstone has been removed.
Jesus lives, He is risen!

Chorus:
Yes I thank You for your grace oh Lord
that You carried the cross for me
You show me your mercies time and again
Your grace is enough for me.

And now I boldly come to you
in awe and respect
I kneel before You
You are King and God for ever and ever
You are Jesus, the Highest Lord

Chorus:
Yes I thank You for your grace oh Lord
that You carried the cross for me
You show me your mercies time and again
Your grace is enough for me.

Spiritual toolbox part 2: Book of Common Prayer

In Spiritual Toolbox on March 14, 2010 at 10:58 am

wikipedia.org

What is it?

The Book of Common Prayer is the common title of a number of prayer books of the Church of England and of other Anglican churches.

A major revision was published in 1662 (Church of England 1662). That edition has remained the official prayer book of the Church of England, although in the 21st century, an alternative book called Common Worship has largely displaced the Book of Common Prayer at the main Sunday worship service of most English parish churches.

Where to find it?

Thanks to the era of internet and electronics it is no longer necessary to feverishly browse through and old dusty book to get to the right pages — although dusty can have its charm too — but you can easily find it on the web neatly arranged per day, divided between morning, evening and night-prayer. Just click on the link and you’re ready to go!

http://cofe.anglican.org/worship/dailyprayer/morning/

http://cofe.anglican.org/worship/dailyprayer/evening/

http://cofe.anglican.org/worship/dailyprayer/night/

On the site mentioned above you can choose between the old The Book of Common Prayer (1662)-text that has a literary beauty of its own and the Common Worship: Daily Prayer-version that is more accessible to our postmodern race.

What are its contents?

For example today is the fourth Sunday of Lent. The prayers for today consist of:

Preparation:

  1. introduction
  2. prayer of thanksgiving
  3. a suitable hymn
  4. opening prayer
  5. silence

Word of God:

  1. Psalmody (psalms)
  2. Canticle
  3. Scripture reading of the day
  4. Responsory
  5. Gospel Canticle e.g. the Benedictus

Prayers:

  1. intercession: for the day and its tasks; the world and its needs; the Church and her life.
  2. silence
  3. the Collect of the day
  4. the Lord’s prayer

Conclusion

The evening prayer rite is quite similar in length and composition but consists of some different elements.

The night rite is quite short in comparison. It is also called the ancient office of the Compline. It is above all a service of quietness before rest at the end of the day.

Here are a few beautiful excerpts from today’s Night prayer as an example:

An Order for Night Prayer (Compline)
Sunday, 14 March 2010
The Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.
Amen.

A period of silence for reflection on the past day may follow.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Alleluia.

The following or other suitable hymn may be sung.

Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world, we pray
That you, with steadfast love, would keep
Your watch around us while we sleep.

From evil dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Tread underfoot our deadly foe
That we no sinful thought may know.

O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ, your only Son;
And Holy Spirit, by whose breath
Our souls are raised to life from death.

Intercessions and thanksgivings may be offered here.

The Collect

Silence may be kept.

The Conclusion

In peace we will lie down and sleep;
for you alone, Lord, make us dwell in safety.

Abide with us, Lord Jesus,
for the night is at hand and the day is now past.

As the night watch looks for the morning,
so do we look for you, O Christ.

[Come with the dawning of the day
and make yourself known in the breaking of the bread.]

May God bless us,
that in us may be found love and humility,
obedience and thanksgiving,
discipline, gentleness and peace.

© The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005
All of the official Common Worship publications are being published by Church House Publishing.

How do I use the Daily Prayers in my devotional time?

Since I already listen to the Bible every day for 20 minutes @ Daily Audio Bible, I skip most of the Scripture readings and Psalms and stick to the beautiful prayers as mentioned above.

I don’t pray from the Book of Common Prayer every day but I alternate with the prayers I described in Spiritual Toolbox part 1: the Daily prayer. In addition I also pray ‘freestyle’ to God as well 😉

But if you haven’t yet established a daily Bible reading routine then the Book of Common prayer can be just perfect for you to immerse yourself in Scripture and pray the prayers of the ages daily.

I encourage you all to give it a go!

Feel free to ask me any questions or comment on this post below, or follow me on Twitter.

Sources:

Wikipedia

Church of England

Spiritual Toolbox part 1: the Daily Prayer

In Spiritual Toolbox on March 9, 2010 at 8:22 am

Rublev's Christ

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to improve my prayer life. I’ve been feeling uninspired, dull and unfocused to pray. Still I think prayer is the most important part of our spiritual life. That’s why I decided to dedicate a 10-part series to the matter: The Spiritual Toolbox, exploring different types of prayer and other spiritual practices with wisdom from Christian spiritual teachers and Christian denominations like: John Eldredge, Neil Anderson, the Anglican Church, the Benedictines, Brian Hardin, Ignatius de Loyola and Henri Nouwen.

My goal is to inspire myself to pray more regularly and in a more engaged fashion to strenghten my relationship with the Lord and to inspire you along the way!

After all in the New Testament Jesus withdrew very often from the crowd to pray. To spend time with the Most High is key to your faith!

Have a great journey!

Here’s the outline of the contents of the series:
Spiritual toolbox part 1: the Daily Prayer

Spiritual toolbox part 2: Book of Common Prayer

Spiritual toolbox part 3: The Examen Prayer

Spiritual toolbox part 4: Journaling

Spiritual toolbox part 5: Lectio Divina

Spiritual toolbox part 6: Practicing Silence

Spiritual toolbox part 7: The Daily Audio Bible

Spiritual toolbox part 8: Praying with the names of God

Spiritual toolbox part 9: Setting up a morning devotion

Spiritual toolbox part 10: Setting up an evening devotion

In this first post I want to share with you two of my favorite prayers, which are especially helpful if you feel uninspired to pray or are at a loss for words.

I encourage you to experiment with them. Here they are:

1. Daily Prayer

by John Eldredge of Ransomed Heart Ministries, presented by Windfarm: The Prayer Initiative of the Daily Audio Bible Community

My dear Lord Jesus I come to you now to be restored in you, to be renewed in you, to receive
your love and your life, and all the grace and mercy I so desperately need this day. I honor you
as my Sovereign, and I surrender every aspect of my life totally and completely to you. I give
you my spirit, soul and body, my heart, mind, and will. I cover myself with your blood—my spirit,
soul, and body, my heart, mind and will. I ask your Holy Spirit to restore me in you, renew me in
you, and to lead me in this time of prayer. In all that I now pray, I stand in total agreement with
your Spirit, and with my intercessors and allies, by your Spirit alone.

[Now, if you are a husband, you’ll want to include your wife in this time of prayer. If you are a
parent, you’ll want to include your children. If this doesn’t apply to you, jump to the paragraph
after this one.]
In all that I now pray, I include (my wife and/or children, by name). Acting as their head, I bring
them under your authority and covering, as I come under your authority and covering. I cover
(wife and/or children, by name) with your blood – their spirit, soul and body, their heart, mind
and will. I ask your Spirit to restore them in you, renew them in you, and apply to them all that I
now pray on their behalf, acting as their head.

Dear God, holy and victorious Trinity, you alone are worthy of all my worship, my heart’s
devotion, all my praise, all my trust and all the glory of my life. I love you, I worship you, I trust
you. I give myself over to you in my heart’s search for life. You alone are Life, and you have
become my life. I renounce all other gods, all idols, and I give you the place in my heart and in
my life that you truly deserve. I confess here and now that this is all about you, God, and not
about me. You are the Hero of this story, and I belong to you. Forgive me for my every sin.
Search me and know me and reveal to me where you are working in my life, and grant to me
the grace of your healing and deliverance, and a deep and true repentance.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and choosing me before you made the world. You are
my true Father—my Creator, my Redeemer, my Sustainer, and the true end of all things,
including my life. I love you, I trust you, I worship you. I give myself over to you to be one with
you in all things, as Jesus is one with you. Thank you for proving your love by sending Jesus. I
receive him and all his life and all his work, which you ordained for me. Thank you for including
me in Christ, for forgiving me my sins, for granting me his righteousness, for making me
complete in him. Thank you for making me alive with Christ, raising me with him, seating me
with him at your right hand, establishing me in his authority, and anointing me with your Holy
Spirit, your love and your favor. I receive it all with thanks and give it total claim to my life—my
spirit, soul, and body, my heart, mind and will. I bring the life and the work of Jesus over (wife
and/or children, by name) and over my home, my household, my vehicles, finances, all my
kingdom and domain.

Jesus, thank you for coming to ransom me with your own life. I love you, I worship you, I trust
you. I give myself over to you, to be one with you in all things. And I receive all the work and all
of the triumph of your cross, death, blood and sacrifice for me, through which I am atoned for, I
am ransomed and transferred to your kingdom, my sin nature is removed, my heart is
circumcised unto God, and every claim made against me is disarmed this day. I now take my
place in your cross and death, through which I have died with you to sin, to my flesh, to the
world, and to the evil one. I take up the cross and crucify my flesh with all its pride, arrogance,
unbelief, and idolatry (and anything else you are currently struggling with). I put off the old man.
I ask you to apply to me the fullness of your cross, death, blood and sacrifice. I receive it with
thanks and give it total claim to my spirit, soul and body, my heart, mind and will.

Jesus, I also sincerely receive you as my life, my holiness and strength, and I receive all the
work and triumph of your resurrection, through which you have conquered sin and death and
judgment. Death has no mastery over you, nor does any foul thing. And I have been raised with
you to a new life, to live your life – dead to sin and alive to God. I now take my place in your
resurrection and in your life, through which I am saved by your life. I reign in life through your
life. I receive your life – your humility, love and forgiveness, your integrity in all things, your
wisdom, discernment and cunning, your strength, your joy, your union with the Father. Apply to
me the fullness of your resurrection. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my spirit,
soul and body, my heart, mind and will.

Jesus, I also sincerely receive you as my authority, rule, and dominion, my everlasting victory
against Satan and his kingdom, and my ability to bring your Kingdom at all times and in every
way. I receive all the work and triumph of your ascension, through which you have judged Satan
and cast him down, you have disarmed his kingdom. All authority in heaven and on earth has
been given to you, Jesus. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to you, and you
are worthy to receive all glory and honor, power and dominion, now and forevermore. And I
have been given fullness in you, in your authority. I now take my place in your ascension, and in
your throne, through which I have been raised with you to the right hand of the Father and
established in your authority. I now bring the kingdom of God, and the authority, rule and
dominion of Jesus Christ over my life today, over my home, my household, my vehicles and
finances, over all my kingdom and domain.

I now bring the authority, rule and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fullness of the
work of Christ, against Satan, against his kingdom, against every foul and unclean spirit come
against me. (At this point you might want to name the spirits that you know have been attacking
you). I bring the full work of Jesus Christ against every foul power and black art, against every
human being and their warfare. I bind it all from me in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and
in his Name.

Holy Spirit, thank you for coming. I love you, I worship you, I trust you. I sincerely receive you
and all the work and victory in Pentecost, through which you have come, you have clothed me
with power from on high, sealed me in Christ. You have become my union with the Father and
the Son, become the Spirit of truth in me, the life of God in me, my Counselor, Comforter,
Strength, and Guide. I honor you as my Sovereign, and I yield every dimension of my spirit, soul
and body, my heart, mind and will to you and you alone, to be filled with you, to walk in step with
you in all things. Fill me afresh. Restore my union with the Father and the Son. Lead me in all
truth, anoint me for all of my life and walk and calling, and lead me deeper into Jesus today. I
receive you with thanks, and I give you total claim to my life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for granting to me every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ
Jesus. I claim the riches in Christ Jesus over my life today, my home, my kingdom and domain.
I bring the blood of Christ over my spirit, soul, and body, my heart, mind and will. I put on the full
armor of God – the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel, helmet of
salvation. I take up the shield of faith and sword of the Spirit, and I choose to wield these
weapons at all times in the power of God. I choose to pray at all times in the Spirit.

Thank you for your angels. I summon them in the authority of Jesus Christ and command them
to destroy the kingdom of darkness throughout my kingdom and domain, destroy all that is
raised against me, and to establish your Kingdom throughout my kingdom and domain. I ask
you to send forth your Spirit to raise up prayer and intercession for me this day. I now call forth
the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout my home, my family, my kingdom and my
domain, in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, with all glory and honor and thanks to him.

This prayer was developed over many years and from many sources but is in its current form directly from the ministry of
ransomedheart.com
. For additional resources, books and events please visit the ransomed heart website. The Daily Audio Bible
fully endorses the teachings and writings of John Eldredge and the ministry of the Ransomed Heart team.

2. Daily Prayer

by Dr. Neil T. Anderson from Freedom in Christ Ministries taken from the e-book Restored

Daily Prayer and Declaration

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You and honor
You as my Lord and Savior. You are in control of
all things. I thank You that You are always with
me and will never leave me nor forsake me. You are
the only all-powerful and only wise God. You are
kind and loving in all Your ways. I love You and
thank You that I am united with Christ and spiritually
alive in Him. I choose not to love the world or
the things in the world, and I crucify the flesh and
all its passions.
Thank You for the life I now have in Christ.
I ask You to fill me with the Holy Spirit so I can be
guided by You and not carry out the desires of the
flesh. I declare my total dependence upon You, and
I take my stand against Satan and all his lying
ways. I choose to believe the truth of God’s Word
despite what my feelings may say. I refuse to be
discouraged; You are the God of all hope. Nothing
is too difficult for You. I am confident that You
will supply all my needs as I seek to live according
to Your Word. I thank You that I can be content
and live a responsible life through Christ who
strengthens me.
I now take my stand against Satan and
command him and all his evil spirits to depart
from me. I choose to put on the full armor of God
so I may be able to stand firm against all the devil’s
schemes. I submit my body as a living and holy
sacrifice to You, and I choose to renew my mind by
Your living Word. By so doing I will be able to prove
that Your will is good, acceptable, and perfect for
me. In the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus
Christ, I pray. Amen.

Bedtime Prayer

Thank You, Lord, that You have brought me into Your
family and have blessed me with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Thank You
for this time of renewal and refreshment through sleep.
I accept it as one of Your blessings for Your children
and I trust You to guard my mind and my body during
my sleep.
As I have thought about You and Your truth during
the day, I choose to let those good thoughts continue in
my mind while I am asleep. I commit myself to You for
Your protection against every attempt of Satan and his
demons to attack me during sleep. Guard my mind
from nightmares. I renounce all fear and cast every
anxiety upon You, Lord. I commit myself to You as my
rock, my fortress, and my strong tower. May Your peace
be upon this place of rest. In the strong name of the
Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen

You can follow me on Twitter and please leave a comment below if you like, I would love to hear from you!

The Little Way

In Therese de Lisieux - the little way, Uncategorized on February 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Therese de Lisieux (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897) is one of the greatest Saints from the 19th century. She received a very early call from God to be a Carmelite nun, which she was from her 15th till her 24th year, when she died a tuberculosis-death.

She was also called by the modest name of The Little Flower of Jesus, emblematic of her humility, her purity and her simplicity.

“Our Lord has deigned to make me understand that by simple obedience I shall please Him best”

I am very intrigued by her short but Jesus-seeking and –loving life of simple spirituality and servanthood.

Therese felt all along that she was destined to become a Saint and this is what she said about it:

“Instead of being discouraged, I concluded that God would not inspire desires which could not be realised, and that I may aspire to sanctity in spite of my littleness. For me to become great is impossible. I must bear with myself and my many imperfections; but I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way – very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new.”

The depth and novelty of her spirituality, called the theology of the little way has inspired many believers around the world.

In Wikipedia we read about the Little Way:

Thérèse is known for her “way of confidence and love”[44], commonly known as “The Little Way”. In her quest for sanctity, she believed that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts, or “great deeds”, in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God. She wrote,

“Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.”

So the little way for Therese didn’t consist of being martyred for Christ’s sake, but instead of  dying to her flesh, making sacrifices daily, leading a holy everyday life to please her beloved Lord of Lords: Jesus Christ of Nazareth and to love others as herself.

“Now I have no desire left, unless it be to love Jesus even unto folly! It is Love alone that draws me.”

She performed hidden acts of kindness for her Sisters, for which only Jesus could praise her.

She led a very simple life among her Sisters, she prayed, she worked; she struggled everyday struggles of dry spells in her spirituality, doubt, fear, irritation with her Sisters. But she always came back to Jesus to walk with Him.

At last I want to mention the Little Way approach to prayer. This is what she said about it:

“For me, prayer is a movement of the heart; it is a simple glance toward Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. . . . I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers…. I do like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say, and He always understands me.”

In this blog I want to encourage you as well as myself to look for that little way to lead a holier life.

I am inspired by Therese to live a holier life, by:

  • praying from my heart directly to Jesus
  • performing simple acts of kindness to people
  • living a more sober and simple life with less posessions and desire for materialistic things
  • letting go daily of pride and striving to be humble
  • being pure and be myself
  • not gossiping

The pursuit of a holy life is such an adventure and I want to take you along.


I want to thank Father Roderick @  http://fatherroderick.sqpn.com/ and Gretchen Rubin @ http://www.happiness-project.com/ for telling me about Therese’s book: The Story of A Soul through them.

You can buy The Story of A Soul by St. Therese de Lisieux on Amazon or Bol.com (for Dutch readers)