Daily Bread August 17

Slow Down
Susan Oxley of Seattle, WA, USA

So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?” They said, “The emperor’s.”  He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent. -Luke 20:20-26

In the parking garage at my new residence, an electric gate slowly rolls open to allow my car to exit. Homeowner regulations require me to wait on the short driveway and watch the gate slowly close behind me before I move into traffic. No matter how hurried or impatient I am, I must stop for 17 seconds and make sure the gate closes properly. It’s a forced break in my hectic pace, and I often use the time to breathe deeply and offer a prayer for the day’s events.

When my son-in-law Christian was teaching English in Ukraine, he discovered that the people there have a custom that forces them to slow down and live in the moment. Before going on a trip, family members pause together, sit down, and have a moment of quiet contemplation before they walk out the door. During that time, they assess whether or not they are fully prepared, have all that they need, or have finished necessary tasks.

Too often, we hasten through our day, moving from one event to another, without ever pausing to take stock of what we are doing. Too often, we forget the simple practice of breathing deeply and asking God’s blessing on our activity. When we take a moment to slow down, be present to our environment and pray, the stress of daily life decreases. Approaching activities in a mindful manner reminds us that everything is spiritual. Nothing is too small or mundane to include God’s guidance. And Christ’s mission can be best served when we offer our routine errands and appointments for God’s use.

Prayer Phrase

Peace, be still (Mark 4:39).

Spiritual Practice

Inner Stillness

In the contemplative tradition, silent prayer is about cultivating a quality of inner stillness. You may visualize the story of Jesus calming the storm as a way of entering into this quality of prayer. Notice how churned up the waters of your soul are currently. As you breathe deeply, imagine a sacred stillness forming within you. What might it look like to engage all your relationships and daily tasks from this place of inner stillness? As you move through your day, notice when you feel stirred up and when you experience inner calm. Take note of patterns and themes. Invite all of your noticing into prayer as you continue to grow deeper in God as the source of your life and action.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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