Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Jesus Prayer

I've had this book "Soul Shaper" by Tony Jones for years, and have read the first couple of chapters, but it's one of those that you can't just read, you have to let it simmer in you for a while. But I've picked it up again, and what I've read this week is the chapter on the Jesus Prayer.

Breathing in: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God; breathing out: Have mercy on me, a sinner.

The ancients would do this thousands of times a day, keeping track on a prayer rope. They didn't have clocks; I suppose we could set aside 15 minutes or half an hour to start with. I haven't been keeping track of number of repititions or time - I'm doing it while I'm driving, while I'm doing dishes, while I'm sweeping. Here are my thoughts as I start experimenting with this practice.

The purpose is partly to cry out for mercy, reminding us that we need it. Also, to practice praying without ceasing. (1 Thess. 5:17) It becomes more possible. The book recommends a quiet, dim room, where you can focus on allowing your thoughts / prayers to connect with your heart. Concentrating on that should guard you from distractions. Focusing on the words of the prayer, you pray from the heart and in the heart.

I think my first problem is that I have jumped in too flippantly. And yet, praying constantly as I do my daily tasks is not a bad thing. I want to add some quiet alone time where I can concentrate and do nothing else. It's supposed to flow to where it is on your breath day in and day out.

Another thought - there has to be a balance between praying this way and praying for others. Is my connection with God more important than my duty of praying for others? I'd say yes, but I can't neglect that either. I imagine that it might actually help, in that I'll be able to concentrate in prayer longer and deeper than I do now.

Friday, March 23, 2007

speaking of doing something where you are...

Love is on the move.
Mercy is on the move.
God is on the move.

Preach it Bono!

Have you ever read Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 by Steve Stockman?
I thought it was great.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

God lives in North Central

So I'm trying to be more involved in my community, you know, the whole missional thing - I don't have to drive to work at a church in the suburbs to be a Christian. I mean, really - I sometimes think I should quit my job so I can do a better job living as a Christian. (That's a fleeting thought - I know God put me there for a reason, and that He has designed me for this at this time...)

Being Christ's love in my community, being a good neighbor, has been something I've wanted for a long time. I've got great plans in my head. I'm just not that good at it yet. My brilliant husband said something the other day as I was talking about what I could do in this community, and it hit me that he's right - I don't have to start something new or add something else - what do I already do? I started walking our girl to school March 1 instead of driving (save the environment and get exercise to boot - it's just too cold here in the winter...) and instead of just walking her to the gate of the school yard and then turning around and going home, I decided to walk all the way up with her and stick around until the bell rings. That way I am present in the community - the school is a huge part of my neighborhood. Who are my neighbors? Try everyone in the school down the street! I know most of the kids in her class already, but it's good to keep up with them, and I'm getting to know the teachers on supervision. It's good just to be there. And God affirmed this decision of mine the very first day I walked all the way - the bell rang and the kids came running and Austin pushed Jamie who fell into Tatianna, who hit her head on the brick wall... I know Tatianna well, she comes to church with us most Sundays. So I wrapped my arms around her and tried to help in a mom sort of way and reassure the kids who were pointing fault that accidents happen, and then they all went in and I walked home with a grin on my face. I got to be God's arms there that morning.

Madeline came home from school that day and told me that Tatianna said, "Boy, I'm sure glad Carolyn was there - Madeline, tell your mom thank you for me!" Aww.

And today I walked home with another mom who I've seen but never talked to before. We talked all the way to my place and stood on the sidewalk talking. God opens up the community when you open your arms and heart and eyes.

Feeling like God is stirring,

Sunday, March 18, 2007

It's so simple

The summary first:
Just love Him!

Why that is the big thought of the week:

1 - from Bible Study - my fulfillment must come from God, not my husband or my daughter. I can not expect them to fulfill me because I will be disappointed. They are only human, and their purpose in life is not solely to make me happy.

2 - from class - it's a leadership class, and the current assignment is a self analysis. Last night's "Ah ha!" was that no matter how much I change and improve, I will never be satisfied, content or FULFILLED in myself.

3 - from reading the Bible at breakfast with my kid - What is the greatest commandment?
#1: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. #2: Love your neighbor as yourself.

What do I do to be fulfilled?

Love God.

What do I do to be a great wife?

Love God and love my husband.
What do I do to be a great mom?

Love God and love my daughter.

What do I do to be a better leader?

Love God, and love my young adults.

What is my purpose in life?

To love God.

Who I am
is who He made me to be.
On purpose.

(So I don't need to try to fix myself or change myself!)

And my purpose

is to love Him.

Love Him.

It's freeing.