Monday, 9 September 2013

Every day with Jesus - Saying the Jesus Prayer 7

Slowly said Morning Prayer to "warm up my heart" before saying the Prayer again this morning. Before I started however I meditated a little on God and who He is. I thought about how very easy it is to construct a picture of God that may not be entirely accurate. What picture of God is there before me? Does that picture alter over time as I subconsciously mold Him to fit my needs? Does God change accordingly? It is this idea of who God really is that started to trouble me and I came to the Prayer this morning with a yearning and a desire to know this God better and more authentically. I want to set aside any idols that may have taken His place in my imagination. I also longed to find in Jesus an answer to my concerns and saw the Prayer as a means of cutting through the layers of idolatry and false understandings to try and get to the real person. So when I began the Prayer there was this edge to them as they became cries for mercy and grace to see him more clearly and know him more dearly and follow him more nearly, to echo St. Richard of Chichester's great prayer.

So the first 100 or more prayers took on a sort of wrestling quality about them as I struggled with distractions, leaving and returning to the words as I spoke them. There was something of a grimness about this first part and because I kept leaving and returning I ended up saying more than the 100 - more like 140 - as I got distracted and had to retrace my steps by saying each prayer with more focus the next time.

The distractions varied in content I noticed. They included a person I had judged harshly on a television show. Another was a parishioner and another was someone whose husband has cancer. I also thought briefly about a memorial service I have to speak at this - or is it next - week as well as the Induction of a priest I know to a new parish. Are these really distractions? Or are they intercessory prompts which by appearing - or sent by the Spirit - are caught in the flows of the prayer at its edges before being dragged to the centre and brought to the foot of the cross?

Regarding distractions and dealing with them, some of the advice I have heard is about learning to ignore them in order to get back to the prayer. Others say to acknowledge them as the movement of the Spirit as the mud of your heart is disturbed before being washed away. Still others bridge the two and say that they should be acknowledged but not dwelt on, thereby acknowledging their importance in and of themselves but allowing God to sort them out as the are brought into the cleansing flow of God' s grace as the prayer washes forward.  I guess that either way we must trust God with them and see them in the context of Jesus rather than Jesus in the context of them as it were.

I pushed on to the next hundred and noted several things.
First, that my focus again changed from just saying the words in an effort to combat distractions, to trying to say them 'to' the person they addressed.
Second, this resulted in changing the position of my head which was in the traditional place facing down to my chest. By looking up as it were I had more of an impression of addressing Jesus rather than my heart. Although Jesus is 'in my heart'.
Third, as I did this the prayer lightened a little and I actually found it a little easier to avoid distractions and focus on the prayer and the object of my praying.

I ended having said 250 in about 25-30 minutes.

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