Sandy & I had the privilege of speaking today at Heartland Vineyard in Waterloo, Iowa. Our subject was Becoming Singularly Focused on Jesus.
We offered three key tools (spiritual disciplines) that have helped us to:
Slow down. Don’t go so fast.
Listen carefully for God’s Voice.
Tool #1: Silent Prayer (simply slowing down)
Go find yourself a nice quiet place where distractions will be at a minimum. You might go outside into nature, finding a quiet, serene place where you can sit for a moment and be away from all the noise. I suggest that you turn off your electronic devices for just a moment. This won’t take long.
Now, as you are sitting in this quiet place, get comfortable with your body. Position yourself in such a way that your hands and feet are at rest. Relax yourself. Loosen up those tight muscles, allowing the tension to drop off your shoulders. Now, as you feel a bit more relaxed, give your mind permission to take a short break. Try your best to slow down your thoughts so you are not processing a mile a minute. Next, take a series of deep, deep breaths. Go slow. Feel yourself drawing in a breath. Let the air out slowly. Give yourself about 2 to 3 minutes of relaxed breathing. Enjoy the quiet around you.
How does that feel?
For some, it’s quite uncomfortable at first, but over time, if you practice this slow breathing exercise on a regular basis, you’ll begin to feel a growing peace and relaxed state within. Therapists say that the tension and trauma we experience on a daily basis actually finds a resting place in our physical body. Practicing this slow breathing exercise on a regular basis is actually allowing both your body and your mind to detox, allowing the trauma and tension of each day to let go and fall harmlessly on the floor.
Tool#2: Examen (simple self-awareness)
Now, as this breathing exercise of silence & solitude is finding a regular place in your life, I’m going to ask you to add a second step.
Followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who regularly practice silence & solitude, add in a simple tool of self-awareness, called the Examen. This is simply your short, honest responses to situations you have experienced thus far in your day.
Here, in brief, is a sample Examen. After your time of silence & solitude, remain still and bring three questions to mind. Allow yourself to relax and ask Jesus to help you respond as honestly and simply as you can…
- Acknowledge at least one person, place or thing that you are truly thankful for today.
- Review at least one situation that has happened today that has drawn you closer to Jesus.
- Review at least one situation that has happened today that has taken you away from Jesus.
Don’t be-labor these three questions. Give yourself the freedom and grace to answer these questions freely and openly. Now, once you’ve arrived at your answers, the Examen adds these two additional suggestions…
- As you reflect upon your feelings that are stirred within as you answered the three questions above, take a moment and bring these feelings to Jesus of Nazareth, inviting Him to bring His good into them. Sit quietly in that good you might feel.
- Now, take a moment and tell Jesus how you’d like to respond to these feelings going forward. Invite Him to be with you as you go. Invite Him to give you the good you need for the remainder of this day.
Tool #3: Lectio Divina (simple, slow reading of God’s Word, asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate a word or phrase that Jesus knows you need to chew on today)
2nd Corinthians 5: 14-21 (MsgB)
Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in His death so that everyone could also be included in His life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at Him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and Him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with Himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what He is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ Himself now: Become friends with God; He’s already a friend with you. How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.
There, you have just practiced three ancient disciplines of those who have successfully followed Jesus of Nazareth over the centuries.
How did it feel to practice these three exercises?
I’ve found that as I try to institute these three simple pieces into my daily life, I’m finding more and more of the good found in Jesus is becoming more evident in my life. It’s my belief that you will find that true as well. It will, indeed, be good. Very good, in fact!
Keep going! And let us know if you have any further questions…
PS. check out www.pray-as-you-go.org for a daily dose of these type of exercises, and take a peek at these spots on our website for more info: