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Archive for the ‘Lectio Divina’ Category

How then Shall we Pray? –

                     Reflections Regarding True Prayer (Part 2)

sheepfollowing

My sheep hear my voice …

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“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28)

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My Fellow Pilgrims and brethren in Christ,

In the introductory scripture Jesus makes it very clear that if we are to be His disciples (His sheep) we must be able to: (1) hear His voice, (2) have a personal intimacy with Him, and (3) follow Him by obeying the directives He gives us for our lives.

We cannot do this without prayer – true prayer that is, prayer that enables us to fulfill our roles as His disciples.  The scripture cited also indicates to us that the primary purpose of true prayer is to affirm our spiritual union with Him and establish a clear and intimate channel of dialog so that He can communicate His person and His purposes with us in such a manner that we may come to know Him personally. In this way, by becoming His intimate partners in establishing the Kingdom, our obedience to His guidance will be performed out of a love-enabled spiritual relationship and NOT by obligation!

However, we cannot interact at the spirit level with Him, unless the spirit-self within us has been reborn by the Holy Spirit (Cf., John. 3:3-5). Without such a rebirth we humans are insensitive to the voice of our Shepherd. So the first thing the Holy Spirit does, when He draws us to Himself, is to awaken our spirits and lead us to Christ through conversion and baptism so that He may baptize us in the Holy Spirit and thus revive our spirit nature so that we can hear His Voice and thus enable us to respond to Him as truly His Sheep!

Unfortunately, due to the deleterious influence of the world, the spiritual awareness of all Christians has been dulled into insensitivity so that even most of our churches never really teach us laity how to move into the spirit realm but mainly teach us at the intellectual and devotional level in the hope that somehow our head knowledge will open the doors to a deeper spiritual awareness.

Because of this deficit of a truly reborn and mature spiritual sensitivity in us, our prayer life for most of us, has been stunted in that our prayers never enter the realm of the spiritual but, sadly, remain at the soulish mental and emotional level of expression and awareness, seeking only our own self-fulfillment rather the fulfillment of the Father’s will and purpose in our lives.

In general, for most of us, as a result of our current state, our communications with the Lord has become mainly routine one-way expressions of petitions or supplications for healing or assistance in our very day problems but lack the heart-felt loving intimacy of a child asking his or her father for help. Prayers, that, because of the Father’s loving faithfulness to His Promises, are answered according to His loving providence, but are nonetheless lacking in spiritual depth on our part.

Do not hinder themWhile there is no doubt we are in desperate need of His help in our affairs and, that He, as our Father, is more than willing to come to our assistance, our prayers become for us mainly a routine practice that lacks the intimate yielding, in love, of a child to the Father. And that, above all, is exactly what the Father is seeking of us, in our interactions with Him! It is as Jesus pointed out to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven”(Matt.18:3).

Remember, our spiritual growth is directly related to maintaining our child-like intimacy and relationship with Jesus and His Father – this can only be accomplished through “true” prayer.

In order to help those of you who feel a need to assess the state of your prayer life and are seeking to go to a deeper level with Jesus, I thus present to you a sequel to Jorge Madrid’s previous introductory article on the nature of prayer that may incite you to continue on your spiritual journey and a more intimate and personal relation wit the Divine.

With the author’s approval, Part 2 of his “Reflections Regarding True Prayer” follows this preface.

May the Lord move in you as you pray and read through this latest posting, all the while reconciling everything that comes into your mind and your heart with His Holy Word. Amen.

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013] )

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Reflections Regarding True Prayer (Part 2)

By Jorge Madrid Sr. (AMDG)

Faith: The Foundation For Prayer

Faith is the prime requisite for prayer for scripture tells us that “…without faith it is impossible to please God because those who come to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).  Now one might then argue, “How is it then that unbelievers can become believers? Or how is it that God will answer the prayer of the skeptic: ‘God, if you’re there, help me now when I need you’”.

My words are spirit and they are truth

My words are spirit and they are truth

Let us answer the latter challenge first. His word tells us that He has placed the light of faith in every man (Jn.1:9, Rom.12:3). Even though it is as small as a mustard seed every person is born with at least the faith to cry out to God for help. However, each person can ignore that grain of faith and let skepticism and doubt control him/her and so quench the faith needed for prayer. There is a limit as to how far God will strive with man to keep this seed alive. Once this seed is dead through man’s own decision to reject God, the Lord is not obliged to revive faith again in that person. But God in His mercy and grace has given us His Word of Salvation to be proclaimed so that real living faith can be revived in the those who hear the word and receive it into their hearts (1Ptr. 1:23). This answers the first challenge as well because it is through the hearing of the Word of Life that unbelievers are brought to life through faith.

Now, although faith is necessary to enter into prayer, it is also true that prayer is needed for our faith to increase (Lk.17:5). For those who are seeking spiritual growth, prayer is essential. Prayer is the means through which our relationship to the Father comes to maturity, it allows us to be one in mind with Him and thus permits Him to work through us as He worked through His Son Jesus. In this way, true prayer permits us to discard the self and enter in through the narrow gate. Of course, in true prayer, we gradually surrender ourselves to His Grace so that we live out the results of our prayer by His strength and not ours. I say true prayer, because it is possible to deceive ourselves into thinking we are praying when we deny the Lord the privilege of working through our lives to produce fruit. Prayer that is not fruitful is merely quasi-prayer such as that of the Pharisee talking to himself (Lk. 11:18).

The Elements of Prayer

Communion in the Spirit

The next and foremost principle of true prayer is communion with God.  This is a communion that can only take place in the realm of the spirit. It is a communion that is unique because it is derived out of the spiritual relationship that we as Christians have with God as our Father through Jesus, His Son. Unfortunately, that level of communion is not often reached because we are unaware of the distinct modalities between spirit and soul. This lack of awareness keeps us from placing ourselves at the spirit level when we are praying. Children are able to pray more easily in the spirit because they are not hindered by the intellectual inhibitions with which we are afflicted as adults and thus have no problem in doing things strictly by faith (Mk. 10:14). As we mature as human beings, our rational faculties get in the way of interacting in the spirit because our minds begin to demand a reason behind everything we do whereas our spirit is an intuitive faculty. We also have certain expectations, which are engendered by our limited knowledge of God and His Word, and by the experiences we are having in the world.

Just as man is composed of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23), so also prayer may be thought of as comprising of form, content, and spirit. Just as in man, God intended the spirit to be the main driving and motivating force, so also in prayer, spiritual dedication is of the essence.  This is so because God is spirit and it is only in the spirit that we can attain communion with him (Jn. 4:24) situation without really getting down to our spirit level. That is, we are usually only at our soul level (rational or emotional) when we say this type of prayer. Because of this, the effectiveness of our prayers is very much diminished. Remember what Jesus quoted from Isaiah regarding the religious people of his day:  “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts (spirits) are far from me”(Mk. 7:6) When we pray therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we enter into the Presence of the Lord with all our hearts, for it is only in this state that our prayers will be truly effective. It is only when we are attuned to that Heart of God that our prayers will be His prayers. And if they are His prayers we can be assured that there will be a response.

Now, getting to the “spirit level” is where most of us have problems because the distinction between spirit and soul has usually not been clearly made in our religious education. As a result we confuse the “religious” efforts of our soul as being “spiritual” and thus we usually enter into prayer usually at the soul or mental level because that is where our intellectual faculties are focused. Without going into an abstruse theological discussion, just remember that, as baptized, converted Christians, all we need to do to enter into the spirit is to make a decision of the will by “faith” to enter into that dimension where we are in His Presence. It is by faith because we are making the decision not on what we have reasoned or what we feel, but on the Word of God, which tells us “ Come near to God and He will come near to you”(Jm.4:8). As Christians, by making such a sincere act of the will, in faith, can we enter into His Presence, because the Blood of Jesus has purchased the way to the Father.

When we make take this step make sure that you are in a place where you can honor your decision by quieting your soul and placing yourself apart from distractions. Once we are in His presence we should place our desire on Him and Him alone – yielding even the desire we had to pray to Him.

intercessory_prayer-1By yielding to His Holy Spirit, the Spirit himself is now free to pray through us (Rom. 8:26). Even though we begin our prayer in the natural, the Spirit begins to take over our prayer so that by the time we conclude, it has been His prayer and not ours.  The Spirit will do this gradually, thus imbuing our prayer with the appropriate content and form. The Word tells us that the Spirit assists us in our prayer because we are limited in knowing exactly what and how to pray in certain situations. Because we are so used to expressing ourselves in formula prayers, this may at first appear difficult. But once you experience the Spirit working in your prayers you will not only delight in it but you will be edified by what the Spirit is working in prayer through you.

If you wish, you could begin with the prayers you are comfortable with. Invest them with your yielding to the Holy Spirit, only don’t let yourself be bound by them. As you repeat them slowly and meditatively, let the Holy Spirit express himself through your words. Don’t be surprised if you begin praying something different than with what you started, As you continue in prayer, you will also find yourself at a point where there are no words to express what you sense is in your spirit. At this point don’t resist the Holy Spirit if there are words coming out of your mouth that don’t make sense to you. Express the words as they come. Don’t hold back. You will than find that the Holy Spirit is praying through you the sentiments that are in your spirit but for which you don’t have the words. This is called “praying in the spirit”. In this mode your spirit is bypassing your mental faculties (i.e., your soul) to express to God those precious sentiments that God himself has placed there just for that moment (1 Cor.14:14)).

Of course everything I have just stated is with respect to personal private prayer. However, without understanding the basis for private prayer and learning to pray at the spirit level, your ability to effectively participate in group or public prayer will similarly be diminished. In the personal mode of prayer, our conversations are between the Lord and ourselves. We need to set aside quality time for these conversations. If possible we should find a nice quiet spot where we will not be interrupted and most of all we need to quiet our soul so that our spirit is able to discern the Lord and what he is communicating to us. Initially, our time in prayer may be short. However, you will find that the more you practice this mode of prayer, time will become irrelevant to you as you delight yourself in the Lord and lose yourself in the Glory of His Presence. Praised be His Holy Name!

Content

When we pray, the content of our prayer embodies our objective. Underlying that objective, and usually unspoken, is the motive behind our prayer. When I speak of content, therefore, I imply both the objective and the motive of the prayer. When we are praying, even though we are yielded to the Holy Spirit, it is important that we form in our minds the content or objective of our prayer is in accord with the will of God. In judging whether the content is in God’s will, we must also assess our motives. An objective, by itself, might appear to be something that God would approve, but if our motives are self-centered, you can be sure that it is not God’s will (Jm.4:3). In general, if your motives and your objective are not based on love (the God kind of Love), it cannot be God’s will.

Word-of-GodFor this reason, it is very helpful if your prayers come out of your meditation on the Word of God. In this manner God Himself, through the Holy Spirit will form the appropriate content for your prayer so that it is in line with His will. Jesus tells us that “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (Jn 15:7). The key to effective prayer is to lead a life that is in Him. Before we pray for specific objectives for others we need to examine ourselves to ensure that we are “abiding in Him and in His Word”. This is another reason why the daily reading of the Word of God is indispensable. If you still find difficulty in assessing whether your motives are pure or whether your prayer objectives are in His will, you merely, initiate your prayer time with a prayer for wisdom. Asking for wisdom is clearly in His will (James 1:5) and your desire to be in His Will ensures that you will have an answer if you will only open your heart and listen to what he tells you.

Another concept we must also understand is that those prayers of petition that are motivated by the responsibilities the Lord has placed on our lives are usually free of self-centerdness and go straight to the Throne of God. As for instance, the prayers of parents for their children, of pastors for their congregation, and doctors for their patients. In general, prayers for others tend to have purer motives than prayers for ourselves. That is why James exhorts us to “pray for each other that you may be healed”(James 5:16).

When praying for healing we need also to ask for the wisdom as  to how to pray in these cases because, although our God is a Healing God, He alone knows the full circumstances of a person’s life. Pray that the Holy Spirit lead you into the appropriate prayer for that person. Sometimes through a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom you may see what might be hindering God’s work in that person and through your prayer seek release from the bondage holding that person from the fullness of the Lord’s Grace. It may be that in a particular case, He may permit the illness to take its course, not because He doesn’t wish to heal, but because it may fulfill something greater He wishes to accomplish in that person. Like his/her salvation. The Lord does indeed desire healing for all. The only question is how and when that healing takes place. Either here or in eternity.

Form

As one who appreciates the poetic, I find myself admiring well-written formal prayers, wishing I could pray that way.  Although I sometimes use formal prayers, I do not use them without a little bit of preparation. The reason for this is that the Lord wants our prayers to be from the heart and in order for formal prayers to be from our heart, we first need to meditate on each prayer until we can adopt it as our own. When you do that, the form becomes secondary. For that reason, although I may use the formal prayer to inspire me, I usually end up modifying the prayer or making up my own prayer as the spirit takes over. It usually does not read as well as the formal prayer but it is MY prayer from MY Heart and that is what is important to the Lord. Form is mainly important to us because it provides the framework for the content, it keeps us from uttering sheer nonsense, and it permits us to create a beautiful expression that glorifies the Lord. However, there are no explicit guidelines for the form of personal prayer in scripture. Instead we find that the form of the prayer is whatever the Holy Spirit leads us to pray when we are in submission to His leading. Daniel, when He prayed for discernment regarding the Seventy Years of captivity that was prophesied for Israel (Daniel 9:2-3 ), was led into the form of prayer that was appropriate and necessary to intercede for his nation. Similarly when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1), Jesus provided them with an outline for a prayer that would enable them to minister in the Kingdom. In another place, Jesus indicated to His disciples that they needed to pray to the Father in His Name that they might receive. Jesus also told his disciples to keep their personal prayer private (Matt. 6:5-6) and to keep their prayers simple (Matt.6:7), other than that, He placed few constraints on form, His teaching on prayer mainly emphasized a heartfelt purity of objective and motive.

Now, we must keep in mind that praying to the Father in Jesus Name (Jn. 16:23-24) is not just an expression that we can tritely throw out at the end of our prayers without understanding its full implications. In the Hebrew culture, to use this idiom meant that you were the fully authorized representative of the person whose name you were claiming to speak for. So if you used this expression to do business for some important landlord it meant that you could transact any business in his name the landlord would fully support any decision you made. In using the Name of Jesus in petitioning the Father, you are basically asking the Father as if you were Jesus Himself! So before you can pray in His name you must be abiding in Him and He in you. If your spiritual state is such that you are not currently in fellowship with Him (1Jn1:6-7), then quickly and sincerely repent, confess your sin, ask forgiveness, and put yourself back in fellowship with Him. Then restate your prayer and boldly go before the throne because now you approach the throne not with your righteousness (which is garbage) but with the righteousness of Jesus (which is infinite holiness)! This is why praying in the Name of Jesus is all-important and why this should be the main guideline on form that is placed on our prayers. Praised Be His Holy Name!

From the examples of scripture, we see that we have a great deal of flexibility in the specific form of personal prayer as long as we are connecting with God, and our objectives and motives are pure. So be bold in your praying knowing that the Lord is not grading you on grammar, pronunciation, sentence structure, or poetic meter He only wants all of your love and He treasures the personal expression of that love in our prayers.

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

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For those whose spirit has been aroused and are hungry for God, I recommend the following links to continue your instruction in true prayer. May the Holy Spirit Guide you on your way. …  Bartimaeus

Recommended Links to an Enhanced Spirituality

The Promise of the Father

The Promise of the Father is for all that believe.

Prayer of the Inward Man: Praying in the Spirit

Releasing The Spirit

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Spirituality and The Mystic Dimension

The Art of Meditative Prayer

Music as an Aid to Transitioning to the Spiritual

Read Full Post »

The Making of a Disciple : An Overview

Return to Jerusalem

Go into all the world …

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?”  (Jn.14:26-28)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I think it is very important that we have a clear understanding of what it means to be a “Disciple of Jesus Christ”. It is important, because it is in God’s purpose that all believers in Christ be aware of and understand, His call to enter into a discipleship relationship in Jesus His Son.  In order to do so I believe that we must first understand what Jesus meant when He used the term “disciple”. I say this because if we really feel called to a true discipleship relationship with Jesus, that is where we have to start.

In general, the term “to be a disciple” meant and still means is to submit to being taught through a specific discipline. In Aramaic, it referred to the training/discipline you receive as an apprentice, where you learn by observing and doing what your master/teacher does.

What does it really mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

All Christian believers are expected to be “disciples” in that our lives should model the Love that motivated Jesus in every respect.  If practiced according to New Testament scripture, it is not based on our effort to be good and loving, but the process whereby the Holy Spirit works in us to “conform us to the image of Christ” (Rom.8:29) so that our becoming is the result of His indwelling presence in us. It is a process that begins when we yoke ourselves to Christ so that He can do the Father’s works through us! But it requires a decision on our part, a decision beyond accepting the free gift of salvation in Jesus as savior.

Discipleship involves a Transformation

The Holy Spirit can only begin His work in us to conform us to the image of Christ, when we explicitly and freely yield to Him for that purpose. This decision involving the giving of ourselves for this purpose is very emphatically stated in Paul’s Letter to the Romans:

Seek the Spirtual Renewal of Our Minds

Be Transformed by the Renewal of Our Minds

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

God uses our offering of ourselves to mold us in to the image of Christ so that that point on in our lives, the Spirit of Jesus will be manifested in us and though us! This is what is meant when Paul states: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom:8-29)

Now, we know from the Gospels that Jesus said He never did anything of His own will but according to the will of the Father, He also said that He only did what He saw the Father doing and said what the Father told Him to say. If he healed the sick and cast out demons, it was because He was accomplishing the Father’s purposes for Him in His ministry to others.

Discipleship Entails Carrying Our Cross Daily

Discipleship Entails Carrying Our Cross Daily

So too, if we are being conformed to Jesus, the process will involve being His apprentices (disciples) and yielding ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit so He can work in us and through us in doing nothing but what the Father wants us to do in fulfilling His purposes for us. In doing so we have to follow Him in the Spirit, die to our own self-will, carrying our cross of self-denial daily in order to truly be a disciple of Jesus, in the way that Jesus used the term.

We enter this level of discipleship only when we willingly, out of Love, offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Rom.12:1), emptying ourselves of our own self-will so that He may Increase in us as His Will is done through us! The purpose of a disciple, then, is not so much “bringing people to Christ” but rather “bringing Christ to people” by letting His Kingdom of Love manifest through us.

Many are Called but Few are Chosen

I think we are all aware that in today’s world, we apply the term “disciple” or “discipleship” in a much looser framework. Many Christians use the term in alluding to their service in the church. We use this term to describe the time we give to ministry,   even when we are usually serving our own ambitions by doing religious work for Him rather than listening and doing what He really wants to do through us.

Others, like myself use the term “disciple” as a synonym to “believer” (although I have now, personally, relented from doing so). Even in the New testament, apart from Jesus’ declarations, we see the term used with a variety of connotations in reference to believers. For instance Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are referred to as “disciples” in John’s Gospel, even though they did not actually  follow Jesus and did not declare themselves openly because “they were afraid of the Jews”.

I point this out because I just want to make it clear that the term “discipleship” that will be under discussion in this posting is with regard to what Jesus originally meant by the term, not what it later came to mean. The scripture quoted in the header is an example of what Jesus meant by a “disciple”.

The first hurdle we have to cross in coming to a clear understanding is that, while all disciples are believers, not all believers are disciples. A believer receives the free gift of salvation and reconciliation with the Father at the cost of Jesus’ giving of His life for us when he/she accepts Jesus as their personal Savior and repents of their sins in a sincere conversion and subsequent baptism. However, although the new believer also receives a calling to be a disciple of Christ as part of the graces at baptism, not all believers respond to the call to discipleship – essentially, to yield to the Holy Spirit to conform us to Christ and be yoked to Him so as to be His partners in bringing forth the Kingdom.

All believers are called to discipleship but not all, for a variety of reasons, respond to the call. The main reason being, that we are not taught clearly about what discipleship really entails and so we mainly follow traditional thinking that the call to discipleship is merely the call to full time ministry, which is not the case at all, it is a call to yield full control of our lives to Jesus so that HE may continue HIS service to humanity through us!

Discipleship is a Life Consecrated to Jesus

Besides receiving their calling as adopted sons of the Father,  all Christians are also called to be disciples. However accepting this call is left as a free choice to every believer.  To be a disciple is not compulsory to receiving salvation or adoption as children of God.

It is a free choice because it must be a decision that is made out of the deepest love for God.  A decision to yield oneself entirely to  Him so that He, and He alone, may  reign in us! A decision to give up our right to ourselves so that God Himself, through His Spirit, can work in us and through us to accomplish his purpose for us in this world!  And His purpose for us in this world is to bring His Kingdom into manifestation through His Love which he has poured into us by His Holy Spirit!  It is volunteering to be a worker in His Harvest regardless of the cost.

The purpose (or calling) of a disciple is to be a stand-in for Jesus and act in Jesus’ name and in His Spirit to continue Jesus’ ministry to the world – that is, to proclaim and LIVE the Good news of the Kingdom with signs following and to make disciples. This is called the Great Commission. It is the call for workers for the Harvest. But, contrary to popular opinion, it is not necessarily a call to full time ministry – one can fulfill this  calling as whatever state in life you currently are. The Spirit of Jesus in you will then lead you to where He wants you – and it may be in the very same state where you received your calling or He may tell you to go into full time ministry. But it must be His call not yours.

Most of our religious traditions emphasize that “the Great  Commission”  is for all Christians, presuming that all are Christians have accepted their call to discipleship.  In reality, however most Christians, don’t even realize that discipleship does not  automatically ensue from our baptism. Living in discipleship means accepting being Yoked to Christ so He can live in you and through you.

You cannot freely make that decision until you are fully aware of the cost of that decision in that you are surrendering control of your life and placing it in Jesus’ hands. It is a decision to walk by the spirit and not by the flesh. It is a decision to yield to the Holy Spirit to form us into the Image of Christ and empower us for His Service. It is a decision to be empowered by the Holy Spirit with ALL the Spiritual Gifts that are needed to accomplish the task we are assigned. We cannot just pick and choose those gifts we are comfortable with or exercise those gifts wherever we want – we have to follow the leading of the Spirit of God in  all that we say or do.  Everything we say or do must be the Father’s will and not our own.

It must be stated that many of our religious traditions do make the conditions for discipleship VERY clear to those who choose to be ordained or enter into the consecrated religious Life. However, there is need to also reach out to us lay people so that it is clearly understood that  a discipleship relationship with Jesus is available to ALL Christians not just the ordained, religious or ministerial staff.

A disciples prayer of dedication

And the entry point to this “unofficial” type of discipleship for lay people is through prayer. Not just the superficial type of supplication prayer most lay people are accustomed to but a spiritually intimate, contemplative, mode of prayer such as the “Lectio Divina” mentioned in my previous posting. Without an intimate prayer life, it would be extremely difficult to discern the Fathers directives for your life and His specific will for those to whom you are ministering. You need to Hear His Voice in order to Obey!

This type of discipleship may be entered wherever you are in your life – it begins with a sincere prayer of repentance and a re-dedication of your life from that point on to the Lord!  The Lord can use you as a disciple wherever you are. He can use you a as a husband and father, He can use you as a wife and mother, He can use you as a single person and as a student still in school!

He will lead you and guide you using the circumstances of your life, because He will be your partner in the circumstances of your life or, rather, you will be His partner as He works in you and through you!  But you have to let Him In! You have to ask to be YOKED to Him!  And you have to put the Word of God into action in your life and the lives of those around you, so that you too, like Jesus can say: “The Spirit of the Lord is Upon me , because he has appointed me to proclaim the Good News ..” (Luke 4:18 )   through the life you will then live in His Name!

This how you become Jesus’ apprentice – because that is what true discipleship entails!

Here are the major principles to remember:

<>  The Word of  God

— Jesus is the WORD so if you are to Live like Jesus you have to live out the Word in your  life!

— The study and meditation on God’s Word is the Foundation on which the Holy Spirit will build…

—  It must be an integral part of your life as a disciple – HIS WORD is a lamp unto our feet a light unto our path!

— The Word is the most powerful defense and offense we have against the powers of darkness,. It is the Sword of the Spirit that you will need to put off these forces that will come against you when you make your decision.

<>  Prayer

— Prayer is essential to discipleship – but it is only part of the process

— It is through Prayer that we explicitly yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He may conform us to the image of Christ,

— It enables s a deep spirit-to-spirit dialogue with our Teacher to enable us to understand the WORD of  God, and the Father’s Will and His purposes for us so that we can be His instrument in bringing forth the   Kingdom through our lives.

— It provides us the spiritual basis and strength we need to persevere in the faith of our calling.

— It provides us the spiritual insight and empowerment we need to put the Word full into practice.

<>  Discipleship

— Discipleship is apprenticeship – and apprenticeship involves taking action in faith.

— Apprenticeship goes beyond merely learning the principles of the Kingdom and discerning the Fathers will…it is the living out of those principles in our lives so that the Kingdom will be made manifest through us as the Spirit leads;

–Acting on principles of the Kingdom of the Kingdom is not following a lot of religious rules or projects – it is an emptying out of ourselves so that God can fill us with His Spirit and work in us and through us;

— It is NOT us doing something for God BUT letting God do something through us.

–When we thus yield ourselves to the Spirit everything we do or say will always be within  the moral code established by God  because the Spirit of Jesus in us will  NEVER do something outside the Father’s will.

— If we do not put the principles of the kingdom into practice through the Spirit that is in us, we cannot bear fruit for the Kingdom and all our effort at growing spiritually will be for naught.

— If we attempt to take action to carry out the Kingdom  principles on our own we will utterly fail – for  our walk must be in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

<>  Spiritual Sustenance and Restoration

—  In order to sustain us as we “let His Kingdom Come” we also need Our “Daily Bread” – His Body and Blood as presented to us in Holy Communion. If possible,    received on a daily basis.

— As Jesus told His Disciples: – “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;  or my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” ( Jn. 6:53-56)

— And since we ought not partake unless we are in a repentant state (1 Cor. 11:23-27)), we also need the: graces offered in the Sacrament (ordinance) of Reconciliation.

<> The Challenge 

The Challenge, for those who sense the Lord is calling them and whose spirit has been incited by this article, is to come to the point of making a decision in faith and carrying out that decision in their lives. To that end the next article will deal with the specific items that we all face in stepping out into a discipleship relationship with Jesus, namely …

— Assessing the Cost

— Making the Decision (and  the commitment)

—  Living out our discipleship within the circumstances of our lives with humility, perseverance and faith.

In going forward only remember this… “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:26-31)

Praised Be His Holy Name!!

May the Lord Bless you all and may His Spirit enable you to respond to His call!

Your brother and fellow pilgrim in Christ Jesus…. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012])

RELATED LINKS

•  Yielding to the Kingdom Anointing

•  Living In the Kingdom NOW!

• Overcoming the World

• Releasing the Spirit

• Praying In the Spirit

• Renewal of our Minds

• Hearing God’s Voice … and Obeying It!

• The Crucified Life

•  The Cost of Discipleship

• The Sweet Yoke of Love

• Husbands Love your Wives

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Double Portion Anointing

The Kingdom of God: Our Inheritance

• Awakening to the Father’s Love (Part 1)

• Awakening to the Father’s Love (Part 2)

St. Theresa: Regarding Prayer

 

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Christ In us The Hope of Glory –

Deepening the Spirituality of our Prayer Life

Christ In Us The Hope of Glory

Do you not know that…

… those of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Rom. 6:3)

… as many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Gal. 3:27)

… it is no longer [you] who lives, but it is Christ who lives in [you]. And the life [you] now live in the flesh [you] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [you] and gave himself for [you]. (Gal. 2:20 )

… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?
     (1 Cor. 6:19)

… God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the things that keeps many of us christians  from realizing God’s plan and purpose in our lives is our lack of understanding of who we are in Christ, and our concomitant responsibility to seek the Father’ desires and purposes in and through our prayer life to the furterance of His Kingdom and, thus, for His Glory!

Knowing who we are in Christ

Yes, Paul was right to ask…”Do you not know that you were baptized into Christ and that you are not your own?”. He was right to ask because today most of us still  cannot answer those questions affirmatively. For us christian moderns, our faith is basically  what you might call  an “intellectual assent”; we believe in the concepts proposed by our religious creed, but not in the  spiritual reality behind them. Because we have not experienced them in the spirit, we cannot truly say that we KNOW (and I mean really know), by faith, that Christ in truly in us and that we are not our own and, thus, that we are here, not to serve ourselves or our own desires, but to be totally yielded to the Spirt of Christ that is in us, so that He may live again through us to bring forth the Father’s Kingdom!

Why is it that we have no problem believing in “Christ” as our saviour in Heaven, but shirk at extending that belief to a Christ who is “IN US”? All Christians need to come to the point where we can say that “… I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who Lives but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Not only is the Spirit of Jesus in our Inner Man (ie., our spirit) , but,it is the work of the Holy Spirit to conform (ie., transform) our Outer Man (ie., our soul) into His image (cf., Rom. 8:29).

Our responsibility to walk in His Spirit!

Yes, the Holy Spirit is given us to conform us to Christ but we won’t let Him, because we insist on retaining control of our lives in all areas, including the spiritual, thus quenching the work of the Spirit in us! We resist Him every step of the way! And when we pray it is always out of our self-centered desires for self-fulfillment instead of the Servant Spirit of Christ that is in us! Why else then, do we resist the Spiritual Gifts the Spirit offers to us (cf., 1 Cor. 12 ff.) — is it not because we, unconsciously, do not want to cede control to the Spirit of the Living God that is in us?

What the Father desires is that, in cooperation with the Spirit working in and through us, we, each day, walk in the Spirit, and live in the Spirit as Jesus Himself. Yes, this is a tough process because, in order to do so, we have to die each day to our self-centered orientation and let the Spirit of Jesus take over more and more of our lives. Just as John the Baptist said… “I must decrease that He might increase”!

Once you have begun the process of transformation by yielding yourself totally to Jesus as YOUR Lord and submitting to the empowerment and leading of His Holy Spirit then your personal prayer life becomes of utmost importance.  Because it is only through intimate spiritual face-to-face dialogue with the Divine that you can truly understand His guidance and directions to accomplish His specific will for your life! This is what REAL prayer is all about! This is the type of prayer with the Father that Jesus sought at the end of each day and it this is the type of prayer we all need to seek after if we are to truly cooperate with His Holy Spirit as He conforms us to the Spirit of Christ that is in us through baptism!

The importance of Spiritual depth in our prayer life

Praying In the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

By seeking the face of the Lord daily in a more intimate, spiritual way, as we pray, we move the focus of our prayers from ourselves and our needs to what the Father desires to accomplish through us so that truly HIs will may be done in the daily circumstances of our lives. When we do so we free the Spirit of Jesus that is in us to  work in us and through us to bring forth the Kingdom in  the everyday activities of our calling (whatever that nay be) so that everything we think, say, or do emanates from His Presence within us! Praised Be His Holy Name!

In that same vein, I had previously mentioned to you, that the foundational prayer that Jesus gave His disciples,which we call  the “Our Father” was really a prayer of personal dedication for a disciple.  In order to give you an example of what we miss when we glibly recite prayers without fully understanding their spiritual meaning, I will go over a meditation of the meaning of the first few phrases of the Our Father (Matt. 6:9-10):

1.     Our Father…
When we invoke God as: “Our Father”, we are asserting, in faith, a personal relationship to God that was unthinkable under the Old covenant. In fact, they tried to stone Jesus because He implied that God was His Father. So when He tells His disciples to address His Father as their “Father”, He is also telling them that, if they are in Him, they are invited into the same intimate and personal relationship He has with the Father, and that, it is under invocation of this relationship, that they are to pray!

2.     Who art in Heaven. Hallowed be thy Name….
Jesus also tells them, that in invoking the Father, we are not to forget who the Father is, and that we must retain and reverence Him as the one who exists beyond all that exists. We reverence Him the most by keeping HIS NAME HOLY. It is only in His Name that we can can operate as His Children, here in this world and it is only because we are His children that we can invoke His Name as Our Father..

3.    Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
In this phrasing the disciple dedicates himself/herself to the Father by accepting His Kingship over themselves. These words, which are usually misunderstood by us, really mean, “Let your Reign (Kingdom) be established in me so that Your Kingdom may be manifested in this world, in me and through me, so that in this way your will may be done here on earth as it is in Heaven!”  (See my previous article on “Living in the Kingdom NOW”)

Now, let me be clear, most of us, when we pray this prayer, don’t even realize that these words are meant as a dedication of ourselves as disciples not only of the Father but of Jesus. That is one of the reasons our lives are in such disarray. In a way, the criticism Jesus made of the Pharisees also extends to us: “these people do indeed honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me”(Matt. 15:8).

In order to rectify this tendency in ourselves, it is necessary that we discover the spiritual depth behind prayer. For that reason I present to you, as a postscript to this article, an ancient method of prayer that permits the Holy Spirit to open us up to the sprirual life behind the Word and how to pray the scriptures in such a way that that spiritual life may flow into us and from us to the Glory of His Name!

In conclusion …

Although this is only one of many spiritual disciplines through which the Lord may lead us to a closer, more intimate relationship with the Divine, it is a doorway to spiritual understanding and scriptural meditation with very ancient roots within the church from the times of the early church fathers. It is usually called Lectio Divina (Divine Reading). There are several variations of this discipline. The Version I am presenting here is that practiced at the St. Andrew’s Benedictine Monastery in Valyermo California (http://www.saintandrewsabbey.com/). I have placed as a postscript ( see below) an excerpt on “Lectio Divina” from their alternate website (http://www.valyermo.com/). It is taken from a side margin at that site to which I now refer you, if you feel led by the Sirit to continue further along this path.

May God inspire you  with His Spirit as you seek His Face in prayer and may He through prayer draw you closer and closer to Himself.
Shalom aleichem! (Peace be with you!)
Your Fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus… Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012] )

Related Links

I Stand at the Door and Knock !

Bearing Fruit Through Prayer

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)
Praying as  Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

Our Father: It all begins with Relationship

Becoming Children of God

Prayer of the In ward Man: Praying in the Spirit

Postscript …
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ABOUT LECTIO DIVINA
http://www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html
by Fr. Luke Dysinger, O.S.B.
LECTIO – Divine reading/listening
– THE ART of lectio divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear “with the ear of our hearts” as St. Benedict encourages us in the Prologue to the Rule. When we read the Scriptures we should try to imitate the prophet Elijah. We should allow ourselves to become women and men who are able to listen for the still, small voice of God (I Kings 19:12); the “faint murmuring sound” which is God’s word for us, God’s voice touching our hearts. This gentle listening is an “atunement” to the presence of God in that special part of God’s creation which is the Scriptures.
– THE CRY of the prophets to ancient Israel was the joy-filled command to “Listen!” “Sh’ma Israel: Hear, O Israel!” In lectio divina we, too, heed that command and turn to the Scriptures, knowing that we must “hear” – listen – to the voice of God, which often speaks very softly. In order to hear someone speaking softly we must learn to be silent. We must learn to love silence. If we are constantly speaking or if we are surrounded with noise, we cannot hear gentle sounds.

– THE PRACTICE  of lectio divina, therefore, requires that we first quiet down in order to hear God’s word to us. This is the first step of lectio divina, appropriately called lectio – reading.

1.  Lectio – Reading
– THE READING  or Listening which is the first step in lectio divina is very different from the speed reading which modern Christians apply to newspapers, books and even to the Bible. Lectio is reverential listening; listening both in a spirit of silence and of awe. We are listening for the still, small voice of God that will speak to us personally – not loudly, but intimately. In lectio we read slowly, attentively, gently listening to hear a word or phrase that is God’s word for us this day.
2. Meditatio – meditation
– ONCE WE have found a word or a passage in the Scriptures that speaks to us in a personal way, we must take it in and “ruminate” on it. The image of the ruminant animal quietly chewing its cud was used in antiquity as a symbol of the Christian pondering the Word of God. Christians have always seen a scriptural invitation to lectio divina in the example of the Virgin Mary “pondering in her heart” what she saw and heard of Christ (Luke 2:19). For us today these images are a reminder that we must take in the word – that is, memorize it – and while gently repeating it to ourselves, allow it to interact with our thoughts, our hopes, our memories, our desires. This is the second step or stage in lectio divina – meditatio. Through meditatio we allow God’s word to become His word for us, a word that touches us and affects us at our deepest levels.
3. Oratio – prayer
– THE THIRD step in lectio divina is oratio – prayer: prayer understood both as dialogue with God, that is, as loving conversation with the One who has invited us into His embrace; and as consecration, prayer as the priestly offering to God of parts of ourselves that we have not previously believed God wants. In this consecration-prayer we allow the word that we have taken in and on which we are pondering to touch and change our deepest selves. Just as a priest consecrates the elements of bread and wine at the Eucharist, God invites us in lectio divina to hold up our most difficult and pain-filled experiences to Him, and to gently recite over them the healing word or phrase He has given us in our lectio and meditatio. In this oratio, this consecration-prayer, we allow our real selves to be touched and changed by the word of God.
4. Contemplatio – contemplation
– FINALLY, WE simply rest in the presence of the One who has used His word as a means of inviting us to accept His transforming embrace. No one who has ever been in love needs to be reminded that there are moments in loving relationships when words are unnecessary. It is the same in our relationship with God. Wordless, quiet rest in the presence of the One Who loves us has a name in the Christian tradition – contemplatio, contemplation. Once again we practice silence, letting go of our own words; this time simply enjoying the experience of being in the presence of God.
Private Lectio Divina
– CHOOSE a text of the Scriptures that you wish to pray. Many Christians use in their daily lectio divina one of the readings from the Eucharistic liturgy for the day; others prefer to slowly work through a particular book of the Bible. It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as one has no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text: the amount of text “covered” is in God’s hands, not yours.
-PLACE YOURSELF in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent. Some Christians focus for a few moments on their breathing; other have a beloved “prayer word” or “prayer phrase” they gently recite in order to become interiorly silent. For some the practice known as “centering prayer” makes a good, brief introduction to lectio divina. Use whatever method is best for you and allow yourself to enjoy silence for a few moments.
– THEN TURN to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today.” Do not expect lightening or ecstasies. In lectio divina God is teaching us to listen to Him, to seek Him in silence. He does not reach out and grab us; rather, He softly, gently invites us ever more deeply into His presence.
– NEXT TAKE the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories and ideas. Do not be afraid of “distractions.” Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself which, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.
– THEN, SPEAK to God. Whether you use words or ideas or images or all three is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. And give to Him what you have discovered in yourself during your experience of meditatio. Experience yourself as the priest that you are. Experience God using the word or phrase that He has given you as a means of blessing, of transforming the ideas and memories, which your pondering on His word has awakened. Give to God what you have found within your heart.
– FINALLY, SIMPLY rest in God’s embrace. And when He invites you to return to your pondering of His word or to your inner dialogue with Him, do so. Learn to use words when words are helpful, and to let go of words when they no longer are necessary. Rejoice in the knowledge that God is with you in both words and silence, in spiritual activity and inner receptivity.
– SOMETIMES during lectio divina one will return several times to the printed text, either to savor the literary context of the word or phrase that God has given, or to seek a new word or phrase to ponder. At other times only a single word or phrase will fill the whole time set aside for lectio divina. It is not necessary to anxiously assess the quality of one’s lectio divina as if one were “performing” or seeking some goal: lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.
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LECTIO DIVINA
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The four movements of Lectio divina: read, meditate, pray, contemplate.

In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Catholic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.[1]

Traditionally Lectio Divina has 4 separate steps: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.[2]

The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. For example, given Jesus’ statement in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you” an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc. But in Lectio Divina rather than “dissecting peace”, the practitioner “enters peace” and shares in the peace of Christ.[3] In Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased knowledge of Christ.[4][5]

The roots of Scriptural reflection and interpretation go back to Origen in the 3rd century, after whom St. Ambrose taught them to St. Augustine. The monastic practice of Lectio Divina was first established in the 6th century by Saint Benedict. It was then formalized as a 4 step process by the Carthusian monk, Guigo II, in the 12th century. In the 20th century, the constitution Dei Verbum of Pope Paul VI recommended Lectio Divina for the general public. Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of Lectio Divina in the 21st century.

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