Tuesday, March 15, 2011
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 the Psalm 121 (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.
If I look to the mountains,
will they come to my aid?
My help is the Lord,
who made earth and the heavens.
May God, ever wakeful,
keep you from stumbling;
the guardian of Israel
neither rests nor sleeps.
God shields you,
a protector by your side.
The sun shall not harm you by day
nor the moon at night.
God shelters you from evil,
securing your life.
God watches over you near and far,
now and always.
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Posted by Austin Fleming at 12:05 AM