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THE ESSENTIAL WITHIN
A Primer on Christian
by Ruth and Loren Halvorson
CONTENT OF PRAYER FROM THE BIBLE
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For those who are entrusted to us, for
what should we pray? That was the concern in the last group of exercises.
We proceeded with the needs and concerns of our fellow human beings.
In this section we will pursue this question further from another perspective:
the content of prayer can be found in the words of Scripture.
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Again and again I meet people who are in
the same situation or level that I am. This point was made clear
in the beginning in first set of exercises.
This also applies to the encounter with others in prayer. Therefore,
it is not a "detour" but a prerequisite for prayer to continually come
to prayer in silence and depth.
For many good music is a genuine help in
the transition to meditative silence. Those who understand this (and
here I think especially of the ill) "tune in" to meditation by creating
an image within on which to contemplate and then letting it go again.
In this section we will begin with another
exercise which can lead us into the depths of silence!
for entering into meditation
Make yourself fully present:
back to beginning
become aware of your own existence...
the place where you find yourself on the globe...
the space of the room surrounding you...
the contact of your body with the floor (chair,
loosen up all that is tense (forehead, jaw,
neck, shoulders, arms)... .
Let the thoughts and images that come to
Place a small ball (figuratively) about
twelve inches in front of you:
set them about 30 inches in front of you (figuratively)
contemplate each image that comes to you and
then set it aside...
do not be judgmental...
allow whatever comes to come...
then set them aside...
(Take about eight minutes.)
Concentrate on it...
let everything go...
maintain a deep silence within...
and let yourself sink deeper into the silence
Let the words of Psalm 95 sink deeply
into you. Let one of the images come and calmly meditate on it ...then
let it go to free yourself for the next image.
The Lord is a
This text is filled with images which you
can use as transparent symbols for human life.
and a king above
In his hands
are the depths of the earth;
the heights of
the mountains are his also.
The sea is his
and his made it;
for his hands
formed the dry land.
O come let us
worship and bow down,
let us kneel
before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our
God, and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep
of his hand.
Write down the symbols that come to you...
Wait for the "wisdom" (Cf.
exercise in the fifth set) this text conveys to you and write that
to the second exercise
The word of God
with its symbols and truths is like a searchlight which illumines your
life in a new way. We experienced this already in an earlier exercise.
You can direct this searchlight on the life of those near you and meditate
on them under this light. Let you meditation grow into prayer.
Place the people who are in your prayers
today(Cf. eleventh set of exercises) or
on some person in your immediate neighbourhood under the searchlight of
the images and truths of Psalm 95 and meditate on them...
The meditation might go something like
Look attentively into the "depth" of this
person's life ... . .(Insert here other symbols such as that person's "king",
"heights", "sea", "dry land", "pasture"). Apply the truths that come
to you from this text to the person you are praying for... . .
Look at Jesus. "How did You (Jesus)
endure such situations, how did You react to them?"... .
ay for what can make this person become more
like Jesus ... . . .
(Remain silent as long as you have
strength within for meditation. Then pursue what touched you most
intimately knowing that a full understanding will never be achieved!)
Such a "word-connected prayer" is distinguished
from a prayer produced by a person only during the first step. The
Word removes the prayer from your personal judgement and places it into
a more objective space. "We don't know how to pray as we should"
(Rom. 8:26). That is demonstrated precisely when you are not under
pressure to pray for a special need but when you have carried a person
in prayer for a long time.
Since ancient times Psalm 95 has been a part
of the church's daily office. A prayer that is repeated so often
is protected from being misused and becoming merely a "chattered" formula
through the light shed on it in meditation . The new experiences
and expectations of each day fill the words, the "vessels", of this prayer
with fresh content. Today there are new "depths and heights", "seas"
and "dry lands" to place before the ultimate judgement of God. Today
you need to experience the "leading of the shepherd" differently than yesterday,
than last week, than tomorrow or the next day! The same goes for
all the prayer possibilities such a text offers.
All that you have meditated on, all that you
have allowed to penetrate your deeper self, makes it possible for you to
also meet other human beings at this level not only in your prayers for
them but in your conversations with them. In this way meditation
helps us to come out of isolation and loneliness.
for further exercises:
material for Psalm 95:
Drawing from your experiences in the above
pray for a specific person for a week using
the verses from Psalm 95 to shed light on your
place one group of people after another under
the light of this text... . .
Explore for yourself how you can fruitfully
use the verses not only of this psalm but also of other biblical texts
(I would venture to say all biblical texts) in a similar way in
prayer. By all means take whatever you discovered on your own in
fifth set of exercises - additional
exercises) the "truths" you found in meditation on Ex. 14, Mt.
14 and Lk. 24, as the starting point in praying for a specific person in
the way done in this section.
"The Lord is a great King above all
"In his hands are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he
made it; and his hands formed the dry land."
whoever belongs to God lives in the kingdom
of the greatest of all Lords...
whoever serves the greatest Lord receives
part of this glory...
God sends you protection from the enemy within
and from the enemy without...
"For he is our God, and we are the people
of his pasture and the sheep of his hand."
in every life there are depths and heights...
in every life there are times of abundance
and times of drought... .
every situation in your life is in the hand
of God... .
seek God in every situation... . .
every valley, every high ground of your heart
lies exposed to God's light .
the home of humankind is not the sea but the
dry land... . .
protection! I am led by the Shepherd!
... . .
nothing goes on without meaning... someone
is leading!... .
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