This week, Upper Room Daily Reflections features excerpts from One Breath at a Time by J. Dana Trent.
TODAY, most Christians pray as a way to hold space for what they need to tell God. Meditation, on the other hand, holds space for what God needs to “tell” us. In our prayers, we confess to, praise, invocate, and supplicate God. In our meditation, we listen for God—whether it’s through the Spirit, scripture, or even mystically in ways we cannot explain with our limited language and finite brains. This is not to say that we do not listen for or discern God’s movement in prayer, but I do believe our tendency (at least mine) is for prayer to be “loud,” focusing on ourselves rather than quietly listening for that “still small voice” or for the subtle, sacred ways God shows up around and within us—even through our own breath. While prayer can be wordless—“The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26)—we tend to use prayer as a way to push our needs, confessions, agendas, formulas, requests, and lists. It puts us in the center. Meditation—the listening counterpart to prayer—recalibrates us to the triune God, who is the rightful center.
—J. Dana Trent
One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation
From page 27 of One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation by J. Dana Trent. Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.
Try this spiritual practice today:
Find a quiet space, and be still. Set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes. Breathe deeply and slowly. Pay attention to each breath. If your mind wanders, don’t rush to judgement. Gently return your focus to your breath. As you breathe, imagine letting go of all that is not God—fear, stress, anxiety, prinde, ego, anger, bitterness, and resentment. When the time is up, exhale slowly.
Reflect on these moments, and make note of your experience. Was it uncomfortable? Was it refreshing? Share your thoughts.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
—Romans 8:26, NRSV
This Week: Give thanks to God for giving you the breath of life. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.
Did You Know?
Practice seeing blessings all around you! Upper Room Books author Beth A. Richardson invites us to practice the Celtic way of seeing God in everyday life. Receive 20% off of the eCourse Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings.
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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