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Monday, November 26, 2007

How do you not forget? - Part 3

The question was ... "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?" When my friend first asked me that in an email, my email response just poured out in a form of a list. In parts 1 & 2 I looked at the two foundational principles that make up my mind set as well as my daily rhythm of prayer. With parts 1 and 2 covering the first 3 on my list I am now on number 4.

4. I pray in the Spirit often through out my day. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:15" I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also." The Spirit making intercession through the prayer language he has given me is just a part of who I am in the Lord. My experience is that it releases me to just trust him more. As Jude encourages, "Building yourself up in your most holy faith, praying in the Spirit." (Jude 20)

5. When I find myself in need I look to heaven in my heart. (Psalm 121:1-3) It usually takes the verbal expression of "Help me Lord". It often comes when I can't find something. Or if I am running late. In these kinds of mundane situations, but it also comes when I am at the end of my rope and I just don't understand what God is doing.

6. When something good happens I thank God. I just say "Thank you." I have not yet achieved the admonition of Paul in 1 Thesalonians 5:18 - "In everything give thanks ..." I am working on it!

7. I try to stay away from being religious, and I walk with God and talk with him as my true friend. This means that I carry on conversations with him as I go about my day. I just talk to him about anything. Micah 6:8 tells me that to walk humbly with God is one of the 3 biggies that God requires along with doing justice and loving mercy.

8. I verbally remind myself to trust in God, to not trust in my self or my strength. (Psalm 28:6-8) I might say something like, "Keith, you can trust God in this." Sometimes I remind myself to praise God, or to thank him. Others may not be around to encourage me not to forget, so I have to remind myself sometimes.

9. I confess my faults, but don't let them get me down. I am depending on Christ's perfection not mine. (1 John 1:6-10) The key really is that I can't let them get me down. A friend of mime, Doug Roberts, says it pretty clearly, "That is not who I am, that is just the dumb thing I did."

10. I meditate on scripture. (Psalm 1:1-3) I used to memorize scripture a lot. (Psalm 119:11) So now I have a number of scriptures that are brought to my mind. I also meditate on the daily readings I do as part of my rhythm in part 2. Meditation in its simplest form is just thinking deeply about scripture. Applying it to your daily life. Allowing it to question you and responding in prayer to God about it. One resource I have used recently, is a podcast called "Pray as You go". It is available at iTunes and is also available as an mp3 download at It is a daily 10 minute guided meditation. I like to use them as I commute.

I have one more item on my list. But that is for another day.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

How do you not forget? - Part 2

This is the second part of an answer to a question a friend asked me - "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?" My last post on this topic could be called my outlook on life. My (undivided) life is "hidden with Christ in God" and "in him I live and move and have my being". This seems to set my heart to realize that God is at work all around me and in me, and if I seek to see my life and my world this way, how can I not "not forget".

But this post and the ones following are in the realm of practice. What do I do?

I used to have a "daily quiet time". You know what I mean, don't you. Set apart an hour with God a day, at the same time every day. Pray and read your Bible. This works for many people, I suppose. It did for me at a certain time in my life. But I don't do that any more. For me it seemed to condense God to just an hour of my day.

Instead I have come to practice what may be called a daily rhythm of prayer. What I mean is that I pray daily at the specific times throughout the day, following the pattern of the Hebrew prophet Daniel (Daniel 6:10). For me this rhythm generally follows the pattern of my commute to and from work and lunch. Also I often pray before I go to bed. I use a form known as the daily office. I generally use a Celtic Christian liturgy posted on this site ... (You can find a link posted to the right under my profile.) Although I have memorized the psalms and prayers that make up the “liturgy” of this daily office, I mix it up with spontaneous non-written prayer. Also I employ periods of silence, meditation and singing as well. There are daily bible passages that are scheduled to be read, and I generally pull them up on my computer at work and read and meditate on them by “stealing a moment” while waiting on hold or between customers or at other times.

This practice or using a rhythm of prayer according to the cycles of my day, has helped to transform my days and my moments from just hurriedly moving to my next destination or chore, to realizing God is present in all the times, seasons, cycles and patterns of my days. It helps me to move from mere mundane to recognition of Emanuel, God With Us.

Am I perfect at this? No. After 18 months do I still struggle at times to implement it? Yes. Do I always sense God's presence in it? No. Do I sometimes miss a beat in this rhythm? You bet ya. But I have found that by having my prayer follow the patterns of the ebbs and flows of my day, it makes it easier to get back on track and in tune with God, when I skip a beat. I also find that this rhythm helps me to keep Jesus in the center of the simple patterns of my day, and so I look to him through out the day.