Monday, November 30, 2015

7 Ways a Christian’s Mindfulness Helps Their Prayer Life

MINDFULNESS is really just a different name for prayer, from my viewpoint. But mindfulness as prayer focuses on God, and the things of God, to the exclusion of all other things.
Mindfulness in prayer is simply the subsumption of the self into the larger, wider expanses of God. As we engage in this type of prayer we have all our consciousness, focus, awareness and senses subsumed into Someone big enough to swallow us whole in joy.
Seven ways of doing this:
1.      Find yourself lost in his Word. Easy to do. Open the Bible up. Any page. Think of a key word, theme or phrase (for instance, “joy” or “grace”) and search this holy Word without the help of a dictionary or concordance (commonly found in devotional Bibles). Jot down on some paper the verses, phrases and words that elicit an excited response for having found something. Don’t be particular. Just note down what might be close… the effect is your focus is being sharpened. Allow God to speak to you through the discoveries you’re making. Remove yourself from any role other than to be the listener/the learner.
2.      Find yourself something in nature. The wind — a lovely wafting breeze — is perfect. Let your mind empty as you focus on that breeze as it titillates the hairs on your arms. Allow your mind to float into a gentle and accepting silence. See how long it takes before a distraction interrupts this prayer’s therapeutic flow. Then go back to the breeze. (Try rainfall and snowfall as well; a storm outside; ocean or forest sounds.)
3.      Find yourself in a queue. Instead of being annoyed, hurried of heart and mind, and frustrated, no matter the hurry you’re actually in, simply stop yourself in your soul. Smile. Halt every internal process of thought and feeling. Bring to the awareness the state of breathing… slowly. Smile, for breath. The persons in front of you, and the persons behind… each is a human being, made in the image of God, loved by God, precious in his sight, and forever worthy of his love in Jesus Christ. Think how beautiful it is to be in the company of those God loves — disregarding whether they’ve yet accepted salvation yet or not. There, you find yourself in prayer!
4.      Find yourself in sadness, loneliness, fear or emptiness. This is an all-too-common experience. Mindfulness of prayer was made for such a time as this. This is the Grand Avenue of learning — only in the vacuousness of our humanity, devoid of the self, can God fill. As tears roll down the cheek, allow your head to tilt backward, looking upward toward heaven, and be prepared, mentally, to experience something new of God. If it’s a numbing silence we experience, do not fret, because God is ministering silently to our soul, first and foremost. Be mindfully prayerful of your soul and its indelibly inherent connectedness to God. Nothing in this life, not even death, can separate us from God.
5.      Find yourself swept up in glory. Yes, pondering a death — your very own. Nothing morbid, just realistic. Pondering gets us mindful (prayerful) around what glory is like — the most fascinating of all thoughts possible, surely. Death is not the end. It’s an eternal beginning. Be swept up into heaven for a moment. Allow your conception of God’s angels to minister to you. Or, ponder someone else’s death — a loved one. Ponder how that reality changes how you think and your intentionality of relationship… what can be said and done now before we part company on this earth?
6.      Find yourself giving nothing, receiving him. We spend a lot of our lives giving. Many of us give what God never required us to give. We work in our strength never understanding we left dependence on God long ago. So sit. So stand. Be still. Focus on receiving something from God that’s eternally yours — him of his very self! Let him minister to you, in those lonely fissures you’re not even aware of. Let him bring to you a precious gift you had no previous idea you needed. And now you do need it — and now you’re thankful for the Spirit’s wisdom to know what we can never know until it’s revealed.
7.      Find yourself enjoying thought of enjoyment. Enjoyment is a power we may partake of even when we don’t have it. We know what it’s like, presumably. Think through your history, and come to rest in one moment of it — an enjoyable moment. There, take God. No, God was already there! Go back there and be with God — the two of you — as he experienced that moment with you that you weren’t even aware of — draw into your senses how wonderful God is to journey every moment with you. Your mind has taken you back here for a purpose, for a reason. What is he saying beyond words? Perhaps it could be for your pure enjoyment that you’re brought back. So enjoy. Take the moment given as a gift. Smile. And be thankful.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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