3/29/11

Daily Prayer in Lent: Tuesday of the Third Week



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 these verse from Psalm 119 (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.

From Psalm 119 

Be kind to me, your servant,
that I may live your word.
Open my eyes
to the beauty of your law.

Do not hide your commands
from me, a stranger.
Night and day, I long
to follow your teachings.

You rebuke rebels
who wander from your way.
Save me from that shame,
for I am loyal to your rule.

Though princes plot against me,
still I study your decrees.
Your words delight me,
they are my guides.

I slip toward death,
revive me as you promised.
I tell my story; you answer
and teach me your ways.

When you explain your laws,
I recognize your wonders.
I am numb with grief;
keep your word, revive me!

Turn me away from false paths,
bless me with your law.
I choose the path of truth,
cherishing your judgments.

I cling to your decrees,
do not shame me, Lord.
Eagerly I follow your path,
for you set my heart free.

God, teach me your ways
and I will follow them closely.
Help me understand your will,
that I may cherish your law.

Guide me along your path,
a way of delight.
Open my heart to your laws
and not to riches.

Turn my eyes from the lure of evil,
let me live your truth.
Keep your promise
to one who reveres you.

Spare me the shame I fear.
How good your commands!
See, I want what is right,
let your justice give me life.


 
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