Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daily Prayer in Lent: Third Sunday



On most days this Lent, I'll post a psalm here and invite you to pray it in the spirit of St. Bernard's words above.  St. Bernard invites us to keep God's word in our hearts... to let it enter our very being... to feed on its goodness...

How to do that? Here's a simple way.

• Find some quiet time and relax... be aware of God's presence... ask the Holy Spirit to help you to pray...

• You might want to begin with this simple prayer...

• Pray through Psalm 139 (below) slowly...   (Some words, phrases or verses may be unfamiliar or difficult to understand.  Don't worry about those now- this is a time for prayer, not for bible study)

Reflect on the psalm you've just prayed...  how does it speak to what's in your heart today?

• Now, go back and pray through the psalm again...  Keep an eye out for a verse that catches your attention...  a verse that particularly challenges or comforts you...  a verse you might want to keep in your heart for the day...  a verse you'd invite to enter your very being...  a verse whose goodness would be food to nourish you all day long...

• Now, close your eyes and just spend some time slowly repeating that verse, perhaps out loud, perhaps in a whisper, perhaps in silence...  let that verse become a part of you...  hide that verse in your heart... take delight in this verse as the word that God has spoken and given to you for your prayer this day...

• Yes, hide the word, the verse, in your heart  --  but you might also write it out on a piece of paper (or in a small notebook, on an index card, or on a Post-it) and put it in your pocket or a place where you'll easily find it...

• Let this word God has spoken and given to you be your prayer, your mantra, for the day...  Ask the Lord to help you remember the verse you've hidden in your heart and to bring it back to you during the day... Repeat it several times whenever it comes to mind...  Refer to your written copy as a reminder...   Let the verse come back to you through the day as people, places and events remind you of it...  If you keep the word of God in this way, it will also keep you...

I encourage you to give this method of prayer at least a few days. I know that it's a way of praying that's been very helpful in my spiritual life and I trust it will benefit you, too. After a few days, you'll become more accustomed to finding the words the Lord is speaking to you, hiding them in your heart, and finding them again as the day goes on... You might want to keep a little log of the verses that stay with you: that can be helpful in recalling them or looking, later, for a verse to keep in your heart, that it might keep you in the Lord's embrace...

And here's some further reflection on praying this way.

Psalm 139

You search me, Lord, and know me.
Wherever I sit or stand,
you read my inmost thoughts;
whenever I walk or rest,
you know where I have been.

Before a word slips from my tongue,
Lord, you know what I will say.
You close in on me,
pressing your hand upon me.
All this overwhelms me --
too much to understand!

Where can I hide from you?
How can I escape your presence?
I scale the heavens, you are there!
I plunge to the depths, you are there!

If I fly toward the dawn,
or settle across the seas,
even there you take hold of me,
your right hand directs me.

If I think night will hide me
and darkness give me cover,
I find darkness is not dark.
For your night shines like day,
darkness and light are one.

You created every part of me,
knitting me in my mother's womb.
For such handiwork, I praise you.
Awesome this great wonder!
I see it so clearly!

You watched every bone 
taking shape in secret,
forming in the hidden depths.
You saw my body grow
according to your design.

You recorded all my days
before they ever began.
How deep are your thoughts!
How vast their sum!
like countless grains of sand,
well beyond my grasp.

Lord, destroy the wicked,
save me from killers.
They plot evil schemes,
they blaspheme against you.


How I hate those who hate you!
How I detest those who defy you!
I hate with a deadly hate
these enemies of mine.


Search my heart, probe me, God!
Test and judge my thoughts.
Look!  do I follow crooked paths?
Let me along your ancient way.


 
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1 comment:

michelle said...

again, there are many verses here that seem to speak to me-
but if I had to pick just one, it would be this:

"How I hate those who hate you!
How I detest those who defy you!
I hate with a deadly hate
these enemies of mine."

and one other thing-
I don't think I try to hide from the Lord nearly as much as I try so hard to hide from those around me- strangers and those I know-
with the Lord, I more FEEL HIDDEN, and I want very much to learn to be able to be seen (and to feel that I should be, with everyone)...