Ash Wednesday Introduction - February 10, 2016


Personalizing the Psalms - Week 1 - February 14, 2016

SESSION 1:  Personalizing the Psalms

Praying with the Psalms is a wonderful way to express to God the many emotions we experience under various circumstances in life.  By personalizing the Psalm, we use the Psalm as a guide in helping us find the words to express what is deep in our hearts.

  • Select a Psalm that speaks to you – it might be one of your favorites or it might be one you struggle to understand.
  • Line-by-line, re-write the Psalm in your own words using images and language that are suitable to you and your current situation.
  • You may want to work on one Psalm for the entire week and then use it in your prayers or you may decide to personalize a different Psalm each day.
  • For younger children, help them find their own words or images.
  • Some people find it helpful to research an unfamiliar word or phrase before selecting their own words.
  • Remember, there’s no right or wrong way; just speak from you heart.

Ways to Pray With Prayer Beads - Week 2 - February 21, 2016

SESSION 2: Ways to Pray With Prayer Beads

  • You might say a verse of scripture or a line from your favorite song over and over as you pull each bead.

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know

Be still

Be

  • School age children may find it helpful to have 4 beads


Jesus loves me

         This I know

For the Bible

Tells me so

  • You can to list things you are thankful for and thank God for each of them as you pull each bead.
  • Each bead can stand for a family member or friend.
  • You might simply pull the beads, quieting your mind.
  • You might want to pray for a situation and for guidance.

Lectio Divina - Ways to Pray - Week 3 - February 28, 2016

SESSION 3: Lectio Divina

(Latin for “Divine Reading”)

This prayer is an opportunity to pray with a scripture passage that is not about gaining scholarly knowledge but rather a time of allowing God to speak to you through the passage by going deeper within your own heart.

  • Select a scripture passage, a verse or two but no more than a paragraph.
  • Read through the scripture slowly and prayerfully listening for a word or phrase that stand out to you.  This is where the Holy Spirit is inviting you to go deeper.
  • Read through the scripture slowly and prayerfully a second time, again listening for what stands out to you. 
  • Take time to sit with this word to meditate, ponder and listen for what God is saying to you, repeating the word and letting it sink in.
  • Ask God what message or invitation is meant for you today.
  • End your session by saying a prayer of gratitude.

Listening Prayer - Ways to Pray - Week 4 - March 6, 2016

SESSION 4: Listening Prayer

The listening prayer is about paying attention to places in your everyday life where the Holy Spirit is prompting you turn, see and respond.  This requires that we slow down the chatter within our minds and observe the world around us.

Encourage school age children to pay attention to where there is a tug on their heart for another student, a teacher or staff person and then respond with a smile, a prayer, a kind word, or maybe speaking up on someone’s behalf.

Perhaps you notice someone on the street corner, in the car on a street, a co-worker or a clerk. Be open to whomever the Holy Spirit brings to your attention and then listen for God’s guidance on an appropriate way to respond.

As you go through your day, be aware of those around you.  If someone catches your attention, don’t just let it go, but offer a prayer, “handing them off, or lifting them to God’s care.”  It could be when you see a child laughing and it brought you joy…a prayer of thanks!  Or maybe you saw someone that seemed worried…a prayer of God’s presence with them.  

Practicing listening prayer can take place in everyday life, but it is often helpful to practice by taking time away to walk a labyrinth.

Labyrinth and Walking Prayer

Walking a prayer labyrinth involves 3 stages: Releasing, Receiving, and Returning. Releasing occurs as one moves toward the center of the labyrinth. During this stage, one sheds the cares and distractions of life, opening the heart and mind. Receiving (or illumination) occurs at the center of the labyrinth. This is the time to “receive what is there for you” through prayer and meditation. Returning occurs as one exits the labyrinth and involves “joining God… at work in the world.”


Breath Prayer - Ways to Pray - Week 5 - March 13, 2016

SESSION 5: Breath Prayer

The breath prayer is about creating a prayer that is a phrase that can be said in rhythm with your own natural breathing.  With each inhale, you say the name and/or characteristic of God with which you are most comfortable.  With each exhale, you say the phrase that expresses your hearts deep desire.  Experiment with different phrases until you find the one that not only expresses the prayer of your heart, but also matches your breath rhythm.  (Be sure to write it down so you can remember it.) Repeat this prayer with each breath throughout the day over the coming week until the prayer becomes as natural as breathing. 

            Below is an example of how to combine the breath prayer with the Jesus prayer.

The Jesus Prayer

 

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on me, a Sinner

 

This prayer is rooted in both scripture and church history.

From the Old Testament, we learn that the power of God extends to God’s name. In the New Testament, we read about the cry of blind Bartimaeus: ”Son of David, have mercy on me.”

In the third and fourth centuries after Christ, the Chirstians who fled (after the acclimazation of the Christian faith to Roman culture) to live with God in the desert used The Jesus Prayer in their efforts to pray without ceasing. The Jesus Prayer is something that the saints have known for years as a method of not just prayer, but as a way of being with God, of living in the presence of God. It is one of the primary devotional motifs in Orthodox Christianity.

Ways to use this prayer

·    The Jesus prayer is a contemplative prayer form that can be used in an active setting. Persons who have trouble settling into quiet prayer often are attracted to this prayer form. One can pray this prayer while walking or jogging. It can be used when mowing a lawn, grocery shopping, walking the halls in a hospital, etc.

·    Try using a variation of this prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me for I am weary…for I rush through my days…as I am anxious…for I am restless…

As you begin to pray this prayer, you may be distracted. Simply tell yourself: “I have turned aside from my prayer,” not “I will return to my prayer.”

If possible, say it aloud as you begin. Say it five times or set an amount of time. You will find this prayer has a rhythm of its own. It begins to move from your head to your heart. You may find that it seems to arise from within on its own at times.


Praying with Mandalas - Ways to Pray - Week 6 -
March 20, 2016

SESSION 6: Praying with Mandalas

Mandala translated means "circle.” It represents wholeness and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself — a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.

The mandala is primarily used as a form of meditation and prayer to gain knowledge from within. 

Select a mandala that appeals to you.  Select an intention for this time of prayer and meditation.

Once the intention has been set, you can begin focusing on the mandala. Allow yourself to take in the lovely designs. Allow your mind to wander. Just like watching a candle flame in candle therapy, if your mind starts to think about the usual mundane things, simply bring your focus and attention back to the beauty of the mandala. Let the mandala absorb all your attention. As you fall into it and gaze into the colors, swim in its patterns. You may experience a feeling of lightness. Intuitive thoughts may arise. Relax and let thoughts and feelings come to you. Float with it. If you begin to feel panic, feel lost, uncomfortable, or if you start thinking about those “mundane” things again, just relax and refocus your attention back to the mandala.

Mandala Meditation

As I hold a situation or person in prayer, let the colors speak to you, represent your prayer and get lost in the coloring and simply be with God.

Examples:

Hope  

What are the colors of hope?
What are the colors as hope spreads outward?

Forgiveness

What is the center of forgiveness?
What colors represent the feelings and emotions of forgiveness?

Read a scripture and hold it in your heart, reflecting on it as you color a mandala or create your own art!