Over the past few years I have embraced a new approach to prayer. One that really isn’t new at all but is used in many monestaries and religious orders, prayer that uses and interacts with scripture. I find this style of prayer helps focus my attention on God as well as letting Him speak to me. As a Friend (Quaker) the speaking of God to us is very important but often times we are distracted by our own voices and ideas. Not that that is all bad though I fully believe that God gave us a brain for a reason…to think. Why else does He ask His followers, “let us reason together.” But where do we start? How do we reason with God? Am I the only one that wonders about this? Ok don’t answer the last question.
The most recognizable tradition in the Friends tradion of worship is silence. During this silence Friends wait in Holy Expectancy, expecting and often haring God’s voice. Often they are lead to speak or act accordingly. The main problem with silence is our minds aren’t really disiplined, what we add to it is what usually comes out. It doesn’t take much imagination to see problems with our mind. So to be silence it takes work and devotion. To discern God’s voice we have to fill our mind with God and then interact with Him. This is where praying with scripture and meditation on scripture is important. I feel that this is even of greater importance in a faith tradition that spends so much of its time in silence.
In the earliest days of Friends they did not bring anything to their meetings for worship. There was not a sermon written nicely on sheets of paper, hymnals, or even a pew bible. This means what your mind dwelt on was already in your head. To be prepaired for a meeting for worship one would have to have a deep devotional and prayer life to begin with. These principles are relayed often when reading the various journals written by many of the early friend like Geoge Fox and John Woolman. (Those are my favorites please suggest more) I am often struck by how often John Woolman speaks of his reading of scripture and other religious publications. These readings and times of prayer allowed them to enter into a silent meeting of worship already prepaired to enter into a deeper dialog with God. Their life of prayer I find very similar to th lives of many of the Saints throughout history and similar to various religious orders and societies like that of the society of Jesus (Jesuit) who have very clear spiritual exercises.
Well I have am encouraging you all to consider and to take a walk or journey into a life of prayer with me. I’m encouraging you to read scripture, to imagine what the scenes we encounter might look, feel, and smell like. And imagine the conversations would be if you were there personally sitting on the hillside with Jesus or seeing a crippled man rising not only to walk but jump and dance. I will be writing a few comments about my own journey and posting them here. (I may not do it every day so if I miss a few give me a nudge). And I hope you will join too. I don’t have clear map yet but I do have a starting point. I’m going to start with the Gospel of John, so grab a bible and set aside around 15 to 30 minutes and let’s start.