Part 1: Any Bit of Space
Dustin Davis of Los Angeles, CA, USA
“God faithfully comes into any bit of space we create for [God].” -Ruth Haley Barton, Pursuing God’s Will Together, IVP Books, 2012, p. 16
My time of Centering Prayer begins in the morning after I’ve eaten breakfast, showered, dressed, and packed my bag for work. (I find that I’m too distracted if I try to do this before I’m ready for the day.) I sit in my chair near a window and light a small candle. I get comfortable, feet on the floor, hands resting on the arms of the chair. I offer a two-sentence prayer before I begin. “God, thank you for this time of prayer into which I am about to enter. May I rest in your presence.” I set the timer on my phone for 18 minutes and set it aside. I close my eyes, breathe deeply and do my best to focus on my prayer words Be Still as my attention to God starts to drift or as other thoughts float past. It takes longer on some days than on others, but what happens next, as I fall into the company of God and simply be, is a mystery.
When I go running in the mornings, it changes the way I feel for the rest of the day. I’m more alert, have a better attitude, and generally feel better. I have noticed that Centering Prayer has largely the same effects. Our lives are so busy, so packed full of stimulation, that we rarely take the time to just be. This is certainly not a new observation in the spiritual life, but how refreshing-and culturally subversive-to go against the norm and purposefully pause.
A favorite author of mine, Ruth Barton, talks about the importance of creating sacred space and sacred rhythms in our lives as part of Christian discipleship. One of the themes in her writings that I particularly like is this idea that God uses any time and space we create for God, no matter how big, no matter how small. What a freeing thought! For me I find release in this promise from my false expectations of many spiritual practices and even the larger picture of spiritual transformation. In the light of this promise I am free to let God work as long as I make the space.
I surrender into your love.
Set a timer for 20 minutes. (If that feels like too much at first, choose a time that will be comfortable for you as a starting place, committing to expand that time in future prayer.) Allow the rhythm of your breath to draw you deeper and deeper into silence. As you breathe, claim one sacred word (Christ, peace, grace, trust, etc.) emerging in you as an anchor to return you to the intention of your prayer when your thoughts begin to wander. Gently release the thoughts and images that come, making space for presence to the One who is with you here and now. Release, return, “be vulnerable to divine grace” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:10b).
Today’s Prayer for Peace
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