Resting in God
Stassi Cramm, Presiding Bishop
When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. -Matthew 12:15-18
I remember being introduced to apophatic prayer when I was an exhausted young mother. Shortly after the birth of our first child, I learned the spiritual disciplines of centering prayer, the Jesus prayer, and breath prayer.
When our daughter was napping, I would sit in my rocker and practice one of these prayer methods. The problem was that I would inevitably fall asleep minutes into the experience. Each time I would have the same experience. After several weeks of trying, I felt like a total failure. My inability to stay awake and experience God’s presence in deeper ways was disappointing.
I shared my experience with these prayer styles with a trusted friend. I explained my approach and my abysmal failure. I’ll never forget her response. She asked, “Why do you think you’re a failure?” I looked at her with surprise and said, “Isn’t it obvious? I’m like the loser disciples with Jesus in the garden. I can’t even stay awake to pray.” She reached out and took my hand saying, “How do you know that sleep wasn’t God’s answer to your prayer? Maybe God was lovingly rocking you to sleep giving you a much-needed respite.”
Her observation gave me a more positive attitude about continuing with these prayer styles. If sleep came, I awoke grateful for the gift instead of condemning myself for the lack of focus. Years later, I still use these three prayer styles. Sometimes after a long week sleep comes instead of insights. I welcome God’s blessing of rest and give thanks for God’s generosity.
Our journey through Lent is personal, just like our experience with spiritual practices. Don’t judge your experience based on others. Make space for God to bless you in whatever ways you need at this time.
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
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.