Jonah’s desperate prayer.
Travel bubble or air bubble?
The Breath Prayer
Breath is life. Since the first human became animated by the breath of God, breathing is essential to being alive. When our breathing stops, our life ends. Our breathing thus is an intrinsic component of being alive. Jesus is God incarnate in a human body. Our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. The physical bodies in which our soul and spirit embody are Christ’s body on earth. So our bodies are sacred. Our breaths are sacred too as it is a gift of God, a means of grace, and a means of life. We pray with our minds using language. We can also pray with our bodies. The breath prayer is one of the early forms of prayer, started once we draw our first breath as a newborn baby. However, the breath prayer that we are using nowadays was formulated by the Desert Fathers and Mothers in the second to third Century C.E. Desert Fathers and Mothers were people who left the cities to go into the wilderness of the deserts of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt to be close to God. They were often solitary and committed their lives to prayer. From them came this tradition of prayer by being aware of our breathing. By intentional breathing slowing and still ourselves, we seek the presence of God. This is a form of wordless prayer, a contemplative type of prayer.
Fr Bede Griffiths on Jesus Prayer: “If anyone asks me how I pray, my simple answer is that I pray the Jesus prayer. Anyone familiar with the story of a Russian pilgrim will know what I mean. It consists simply in repeating the words: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I have used this prayer now for over 40 years and it has become so familiar that it simply repeats itself. Whenever I am not otherwise occupied or thinking of something else, the prayer goes quietly on. Sometimes it is almost mechanical, just quietly repeating itself, and other times it gathers strength and can become extremely powerful.
I give it my own interpretation. When I say, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God”, I think of Jesus as the Word of God, embracing heaven and earth and revealing himself in different ways and under different names and forms to all humanity. I consider that this Word “enlightens everyone coming into the world”, and though they may not recognise it, it is present to every human being in the depths of their soul. Beyond word and thought, beyond all signs and symbols, this Word is being secretly spoken in every heart in every place and at every time. People may be utterly ignorant of it or may choose to ignore it, but whenever or wherever anyone responds to truth or love or kindness, to the demand for justice, concern for others, care of those in need, they are responding to the voice of the Word. So also when anyone seeks truth or beauty in science, philosophy, poetry or art, they are responding to the inspiration of the Word.
I believe that that Word took flesh in Jesus of Nazareth and in him we can find a personal form of the Word to whom we can pray and to whom we can relate in terms of love and intimacy, but I think that he makes himself known to others under different names and forms. What counts is not so much the name and the form as the response in the heart to the hidden mystery, which is present to each one of us in one way or another and awaits our response in faith and hope and love.
When I say, “have mercy on me, a sinner”, I unite myself with all human beings from the beginning of the world, who have experienced separation from God, or from the eternal truth. I realise that, as human beings, we are all separated from God, from the source of our being. We are wandering in a world of shadows, mistaking the outward appearance of people and things for reality. But at all times something is pressing us to reach out beyond the shadows, to face the reality, the truth, the inner meaning of our lives, and so to find God, or whatever name we give to the mystery which enfolds us.
So I say the Jesus prayer, asking to be set free from the illusions of this world, from the innumerable vanities and deceits with which I am surrounded. And I find in the name of Jesus the name which opens my heart and mind to reality. I believe that each one of us has an inner light, an inner guide, which will lead us, through the shadows and illusions by which we are surrounded, and open our minds to the truth. It may come through poetry or art, or philosophy or science, or more commonly through the encounter with people and events, day by day. Personally I find that meditation, morning and evening, every day, is the best and most direct method of getting in touch with reality. In meditation I try to let go of everything of the outer world of the senses, of the inner world of thoughts, and listen to the inner voice, the voice of the Word, which comes in the silence, in the stillness when all activity of mind and body ceases. Then in the silence I become aware of the presence of God, and I try to keep that awareness during the day. In bus or train or travelling by air, in work or study or talking and relating to others, I try to be aware of this presence in everyone and in everything. And the Jesus prayer is what keeps me aware of the presence.
So prayer for me is the practice of the presence of God in all situations, in the midst of noise and distractions of all sorts, of pain and suffering and death, as in times of peace and quiet, of joy and friendship, of prayer and silence, the presence is always there. For me the Jesus prayer is just a way of keeping in the presence of God.”
Quoted by Adam Bucko
guest post by Arif Subagyo
Tidak berarti ketika hanya sepotong
Tidak bermakna ketika sendiri
Menjadi indah saat tersusun
Membangun bentuk bersama yang lain
Bukan hanya satu atau dua bentuk
Bahkan tak terbilang beragam
Bak sebentuk lego
Tak berguna tanpa Sang Pembentuk
Bak sewarna Lego
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Bak sepenggal Lego
Tak bisa dinikmati tanpa Sang Seniman
Indah ditangan Tuhan Sang Khalik
Bandung, 26 Juni 2018
It was my privilege to lead a group of teachers on a silent retreat at the Methodist House on Frasers Hill. It was an ideal location to hold a retreat. Teachers have a busy schedule and face a unique set of challenges.
Most of the participants find it helpful to have time to step aside and listen, rest and be refreshed. Some find it a challenge to be in a ‘silent’ retreat.
Thank you for the gift of these precious little children. Help me, O Lord, to be a loving grandfather to them, helping their parents to nurture and help them grow in ways that are honoring You. Help us together to walk in Your Grace and develop faith in Your Love.
Lord, teach me both what to give and what to withhold; not to overindulge but not excessive in severity; firm but gentle, and be considerate with understanding. Give me wisdom to know when to reprove and when to affirm, so that by my deed and example, they will grow into a life filled with joy, faithfulness and wisdom.
Father, I commit these wonderful children and their parents into Your Hands. Be their God and Master so that whatever is lacking in me through frailty or negligence, You will supply all their needs. Keep them in good health and let them grow into their true potential. Strengthen them against the corruption that is found in the world and within themselves. Give them wisdom to avoid the snares of the enemy. May they live peaceful and abundant lives. Fill them with your Holy Spirit that they may be empowered to serve You through their spiritual gifts and natural talents You have given them. Let them continue to serve You when I have passed beyond and is nothing but a memory. May they grow daily in the knowledge and love of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
|cover of Mathewes-Green, Frederica. The Jesus Prayer: The Ancient Desert Prayer That Tunes the Heart to God. Brewster, MA: Parachetes Press, 2009.|
|labyrinth at Lifesprings Canossian Spirituality Centre, Singapore|
“O God, you will show me the path of life and fill me with joy in your presence.”
There is no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Use the labyrinth in any way that meets your needs while being respectful of others who may be walking on the path. You may stop anywhere along the path to mediate, pray or be in silence. You will often meet others walking the path in the opposite direction. Simply step around them. Walk at your own pace; you may even pass others who may be in front of you. Take your time. Walk slowly. Do what feels natural to you — some walk steadily, some cover their faces with scarves, some dance, some twirl and dance, some stop often. At the center you may sit, kneel, stand, change positions or directions, pray, meditate, or do silent reading or writing.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
To prepare for walking, you may want to sit quietly to reflect before stepping onto the labyrinth. Some people come with questions, others just to slow down and take time out from a busy life. Some come to find strength to take the next step. Many come during times of grief and loss.
In walking the labyrinth with the psalms, we are to read a psalm while walking the labyrinth. Select a psalm from the list below or choose one of your own.
Psalms 1; 8; 23; 27; 42; 46; 48; 63; 84; 108; 111; 139; 143; 147
The idea is to stick to meditating/praying one particular psalm for the whole duration of this walk, using it to pray, meditate and contemplate. Read the psalm slowly. Meditate and listen to each word, sentence and paragraph. Restart at the beginning of the psalm when you have reached the end.