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'n lewe wat IETS BETEKEN | 28/06/2016

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Abiding prayer – practicing the presence of God

Abiding prayer – practicing the presence of God

by Andrea Lotz

 

I am learning that part of Jesus’ mission on earth was/is to teach us a way of living that is “easy” on our souls. A way he intended from the beginning- living a life connected to Him, a life that is in essence restful and unforced. He calls us to come to him and learn from him, to walk in step with him in this free and “light” way of living.

Have a look at Matthew 11: 28-30 taken from The Message

Matthew 11:28-30The Message (MSG)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Abiding prayer is a way of practicing being in the presence of God, in the “easy yoke” that he speaks of in Matthew 11. It’s a way of being connected to God

 

So why do it?

It often happens that when we have the desire to be still and spend time with Jesus we find it very hard to do so. Our bodies and minds are busy and restless, we find a million things to think of the minute we try to stop. We all struggle with this. Learning to be quiet and still, keeping our hearts and minds focused on Jesus does not come easily to most of us, yet it is something the writer of Hebrew’s considers important when he proclaims :

Be careful!…Make every effort to enter God’s rest” (Hebrews 4:1,11)

In John 15:5 Jesus calls us to abide in Him saying that this will cause us to bear fruit. To remain in Jesus or stay connected with him is the essence of abiding prayer.

To abide in prayer is a way to work at resting in God’s grace. We start by praying Scripture in intensive “quiet times.” And this helps us to learn to interact with and rely on Christ with us (abiding) as we do whatever we’re doing.

 

How do we do it?

We use short phrases of scripture as prayer to rest in God’s grace. We focus on a verse slowly repeating it to ourselves over and over again. As we focus on God’s word, as we dwell on it we learn to abide in Christ and open our hearts to him.

 

So here is the practical stuff, let’s learn to abide:

Start by practicing the abiding prayer for 5 minutes at the start of your day ( you can pray for longer if you like) and then briefly come back to the prayer as often as you can or whenever you remember throughout the day. By doing this you slowly learn to “pray without ceasing” 1 Thess 5:17 and ease into the “unforced rhythms of grace” Matt 11:29 MSG

Here are a few Abiding Prayers suggested by Bill Gautier on his website soulshepherding.org which I have adapted slightly.

Before entering into an abiding prayer you might practice warming up yourself for prayer by focusing on your bodily posture before God. It greatly helps to engage your mind and heart on God when you’re intentional about putting your body into your prayer.

Sit comfortably… Relax…

You may want to let your rhythm of breathing in and out become a prayer…

You may want to hold out your hands to open yourself to the Lord…

 

Below are 3 abiding prayers, choose one that feels right for you and go with it:

Abiding prayer 1: Breathe in God’s Peace

Hear the word of God to the Psalmist: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

You probably know this prayer. But did you know that it’s context in Psalm 46 is war and devastation? That’s the real test of our peace — can we rest in God’s care in the midst of distress and pain?

Let’s do some soul work and practice being still in Christ’s presence now. Take a moment to consider your life, is there something in particular right now that is scaring you or making you anxious. Name this to the Lord, you can be honest… Picture yourself in that situation…

Then sloooowly pray God’s Word to yourself as a “Simplifying Breath Prayer”:

Be still and know that I am God…

Be still and know that I AM…

Be still and know…

Be still…

Be…

Notice how you feel after you have spent a few minutes abiding in God’s presence with these words: has anything shifted in your heart, how is Jesus looking at you, what might he want to say to you. Its always useful to reflect after a time of prayer about what movements are taking place in your heart. A journal might be helpful here to.

 

Abiding prayer 2: Focus on Jesus

Here’s another favourite Abiding Prayer of mine: “Jesus, be the center.”

This little prayer of the heart is based on Matthew 17:6-8 (MSG), “The disciples saw Jesus, only Jesus,” and Matthew 21:9 (NLT), “Jesus was in the center.” It’s a simple little prayer that says it all!

You might try gently repeating this prayer to yourself now: “Jesus, be the center…”

It’s helpful to use an Abiding Prayer to do some soul work in which we open ourselves to God in order to be transformed. We’re seeking for Jesus to be our focus and our desire in the activities of the day ahead.

Try this: think ahead of your day and pray: “As I _________, Jesus, be the center.”

Slowly repeat the words Jesus, be the centre. Allow them to sink in deep into your soul. If you find yourself focus on word word such as Jesus or centre thats ok just keep repeating it and focus on God and abide.

Notice how you feel after you have spent a few minutes abiding in God’s presence with these words: has anything shifted in your heart, how is Jesus looking at you, what might he want to say to you.Its always useful to reflect after a time of prayer about what movements are taking place in your heart. A journal might be helpful here to.

 

Abiding prayer 3: Submit to God

Jesus prayed on the cross: “Father… into your hands I commit my spirit”

(Psalm 31:5 & Luke 23:46).

This is another powerful little prayer for our spiritual formation.

Try offering this prayer to submit the parts of yourself and your life to God: “Father… into your hands I commit my ________…” (e.g., thoughts… desires… health… relationships… dreams).

Notice how you feel after you have spent a few minutes abiding in God’s presence with these words: has anything shifted in your heart, how is Jesus looking at you, what might he want to say to you.Its always useful to reflect after a time of prayer about what movements are taking place in your heart. A journal might be helpful here to.

 

Moving forward

Here are a few more examples of scripture that can be used for abiding prayers

Listen to God

“Speak Lord, for your servant hears…” (1 Samuel 3:9 & 10, NKJV).

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my Shepherd… I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1, KJV).

Rest in Christ

“In Christ alone my soul finds rest… Selah” (Based on Psalm 62:1, 5).

“Abba, I belong to you…” (Brennan Manning’s prayer based on Romans 8:15).