Tomorrow being Thanksgiving, my thoughts turn naturally to gratitude, and I ask myself, what am I most grateful for this year? What are you most grateful for?
I have a whole list of things I wrote down a while back: Family, Friends, Health, Happiness, Our home, Living in a free country, Freedom of religion, Financial well-being, Books, the Internet, Facebook, this Medium.com platform, Electricity, Computer skills, Pen and Paper…
and the big ones: God and Jesus and Jesus’ sacrifice that brings me into a loving relationship with God and my fellow sojourners on planet earth (and maybe beyond).
I know that many millions (billions) on this planet do not enjoy the same blessings that we in the USA do, especially those of us who live well above the poverty line. God has richly blessed us. Out of gratitude, let’s be a blessing to others.
One of the things I’m thankful for this year is Centering Prayer.
Three weeks ago I started to practice Centering Prayer. It is, essentially, saying to God, “Here I am.” And, then, sitting quietly before Him for 20 minutes, twice each day. In thinking about this activity, I was led to a presentation by Father Richard Rohr, who pointed out something I found amazing. The Bible says, in Psalm 46:10:
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Breaking this down, Fr. Rohr pointed out that we have:
Be still and know…
Be still and know that I am…
Be still and know that I am God.
“I am” is the name God gave Himself when Moses asked whom should he say when Pharaoh asked who sent him to free the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. God said, “Tell him I Am sent you.”
So, if we want to know the Great “I AM”, being still is one way. “Be still and know….”
It is also, apparently, a way to knowledge in general. How many times have you been stuck on a problem and not known the answer? Then, when you got still (maybe you slept on it), the answer suddenly came to you. That gives me confidence that as we practice this discipline of being still before God, knowledge and wisdom will flow to us. Problems we face will be resolved, maybe not right away, maybe not in the way we would like, but eventually, in God’s time.
A friend pointed out that another way of translating the word “still” is “surrender”. So, the verse could be translated as:
SURRENDER and know that I am God.
In Centering Prayer, we use a sacred word, which is really any one or two-syllable word or short phrase, to signify to God our intention to be present and allow Him to act upon us. In other words, we surrender our hearts to Him. We consent to His action in our lives.
Fr. Rohr also says that the primary language of God is silence. So, when we sit quietly, we are in the best condition to communicate with God.
How does He communicate? What does He say? I confess, I don’t know. All I have is the word of others to assure me that He does. What He has to tell us may show up as thoughts. They may show up later in our actions and reactions. We may find ourselves with more of the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use more of those. I know I sure can.
But, Centering Prayer is not about getting anything. It is about giving something to God and that is our time and our attention for 40 minutes each day. Let me tell you, it is not easy. Slowing down this monkey brain and just sitting quietly is a discipline that I don’t find easy, but as I’ve forced myself to do it, I’ve become more comfortable with it. Like any discipline, it takes time to develop a routine and make the routine a habit. I have it on good authority, that once you make it a habit, you will not want to miss that time with the Lord. After 3 weeks, I’m finding I do look forward to it.
If you want to do Centering Prayer, there is an App called “Centering Prayer”. The app contains the guidelines, some opening prayers and sounds, closing sounds and prayers and a timer to alert you when 20 minutes (or whatever duration you choose) is up. It is available for free at the App Store.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving. May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds this holiday season.