1.16.23 Three Practices That Help Us Deepen Our Lives in Christ
Lectio Divina, an Ignatian practice
Lectio Divina is a way of reading shorter passages in the Bible, say three or four verses, aloud all the while paying attention to any word or phrase that stands out for you. Read the passage three times slowly, listening for any word or phrase that stands out for you. Then, take some time to meditate on that word or phrase to see what wisdom the Holy Spirit is offering you. This is a direct way for God to communicate to you.
The Welcoming Prayer
The Welcoming Prayer by Father Thomas Keating works in a different way for us by helping us to let go of our resistance to whatever is happening in our lives. It leads us into a deeper practice of gratitude for everything we experience. I have learned so much from dropping my resistance to whatever comes into my life. Each new thing has its challenges as well as its benefits for us. In this culture we tend to complain about anything we didn’t ask for. But I have learned that the challenges also have a big benefit for us that we will see when we can give up our resistance.
“Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today, because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval, and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within. Amen.”
The third practice is Centering Prayer which was also developed by Father Keating. Centering Prayer is a form of meditation, of stilling the mind which can lead to the ability to hear “the still small voice of God”(1 Kings 19:12) within our own minds. Done on a daily basis, , we sit in God’s presence and develop the ability to hear the voice of His Indwelling Spirit. To begin to practice Centering Prayer, choose a word or short phrase[mine is Oh, Lord] to use when your thoughts take you away from the stillness. This is to be a daily practice. It’s a good idea to work your way up to 20 or 30 or 60 minutes, by starting with, say, 10 minute-sessions and then adding 5 minutes until you can sit quietly for a longer time.
A good way to begin is to breathe in and out slowly for four or five seconds for a minute or two. This will help settle you into the quiet. Set your timer and begin. As you build up to 20+ minutes practice, you will find the quiet becomes more sustainable, that the word or phrase you use to recall yourself to the quiet. Your mind will always be there calling your attention to some lack or problem or must-do, but as you sustain your practice it will be easier and easier to let go of the thoughts. The best way I have found to do let go of the power that our thoughts have over us is to become an observer of them. If they bother you when they come up, figure out who the source of that thought may be. Then, step back from them by smiling or nodding at them as you would an old friend. But do not engage with them. Over time they will have less and less ability to upset your meditative time.
These three practices are complementary and together really help develop the attention that is focused on God and whatever He is communicating to you.