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Ancient Spirit Practices

Ancient Spirit Practices

Internal practices we can do in order to tune our hearts and minds to God and things of a spiritual nature.  Scroll down to practice the Centering Prayer, Prayer of Forgiveness (Breath Prayers), Breathing Exercises, Confession, and Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading). 

Centering Prayer (done in silence):
1)   Sit still with your eyes closed and allow yourself time to settle down.  Let go of all the thoughts, tensions, and sensations you may feel and begin to rest in the love of God who dwells within.
2)   Effortlessly, choose a word to remind yourself of God and his presence.  Let the word be present within your heart and mind.  The word should be simple, one syllable or two, and should communicate God’s love to you at this time.
*Examples:  love, change, joy, peace, justice, hope, forgive
3)   When you become aware of thoughts or as internal sensations arise, take this as your signal to gently return to the word, and once again rest in God’s presence, centering your mind.
4)   Rest in the stillness.  When you find your mind wandering and your thoughts going to other places, go back to the word and let its presence fill your heart and mind once again.
5)   As you come out of the prayer, take a moment to thank God for his love.  Some internally recite the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

The Centering Prayer is a long prayer often recommended to be 20 minutes at a sitting.  However, as you begin, try to do it for a couple of minutes at a time and increase as you feel the need.

 
Prayer of Forgiveness (Breath Prayers):
Many of us at some point in our lives feel the need to be forgiven and to forgive ourselves.  Yet it is easy to feel trapped, unable to get past mistakes we have made and the scars they leave with us and others.  The heart of being a Christ follower is forgiveness, forgiveness from God and God’s help in allowing us to forgive ourselves and to change.  This exercise uses our breathing to help us to accept God’s forgiveness and to forgive ourselves.

Breathing Exercise:
Find a quiet place where you can sit and relax.  Take a moment to quiet yourself and to breathe deeply.  You may find it helpful to light a candle to
remind you of the presence of God.  Begin to take notice of your breathing, as you breathe in and as you breathe out.  Focus on the issue which you feel is burdening you.  And then as you slowly breathe in and out pray these prayers.  Think of the burden when you breathe out and God’s forgiveness and acceptance of you when you breathe in.

Breathe in love
Breath out hate

Breathe in acceptance
Breathe out separation

Breathe in forgiveness
Breathe out blame

Breathe in peace
Breathe out anxiety

Breathe in life
Breathe out death

Breathe in gentleness
Breathe tension

Breathe in God’s presence
Breathe in God’s acceptance and forgiveness

 

Confession (3 types)

CONFESSION #1:  You to God
If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling
ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the
other hand, if we admit our sin, make a clean break
of them, he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself.
He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.
-I John 1:8-9

We are all ministers and can go to Christ on our own any time.
We do not need an intermediary to help us speak to God.

CONFESSION #2:  You to God (through others)

Formalized Confession offers three advantages:
1) It is Reality Therapy–you are actually saying out loud what
your pride and selfish acts are.
2) There is an actual word of forgiveness given
(not a silent God, but someone reminds you of God’s grace)
3) Given time to pause and consider the whole of your life.

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.
-James 5:16

 
CONFESSION #3:  You to Others
We have damaged, and even broken, relationships with others.

Reconciliation vs. Forgiveness:
Forgiving someone does not mean to reconcile with them.  We may need to cleanse our soul through forgiveness, but some people are toxic and/or abusive and we need to set boundaries up so we will not be hurt again.  However, if there is not a toxic or abusive situation, reconciliation is the ultimate goal of forgiveness.

Confession Exercises:
Set aside some time for confession and self-examination.

Follow these steps:
1) Ask God to break down your defenses
2) Ask yourself, “Who have I injured recently through insensitivity neglect or even anger”?
3) As people come to mind, confess your feelings about these people
4) Ask God for forgiveness and grace to forgive them.
5) Write an apology, make a phone call, or confess out loud to the person and attempt to reconcile the relationship.

How in touch do you feel with your own sin?
If you feel out of touch with your sin, honestly consider where some of the following sins show up in your life:  envy, lust, greed, gluttony, deceit, lying, exaggerating, envy, anger, pretense, avoidance of responsibility.
What do you see about yourself?
How do you want to deal with God on these things?
Maybe use these as a springboard for confession.
Begin to notice strong emotions.  When do you feel yourself getting hot, defensive, angry, withdrawn?  What is motivating your emotion?
What behavior stems from your emotion?  As you attend to this internal world, ask God to make you alert to what triggers strong emotional reactions.  Confess any sin relating to these reactions.  Practice noticing your internal world, and begin to develop a habit of immediate confession.

Read Psalm 32 or Psalm 51.
Utilize these passages to bring your own pride before God.
How does God meet you in these confessions of David?

Sin that has been spoken and confessed has lost all of its power.
The sinner has been relieved of sins burden.  Now the sinner stands in the
community of sinners who live by the grace of God in the cross of Christ.
Now one is allowed to be a sinner and still enjoy the grace of God.
We can admit our sins and in this very act find community for the first time
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading):

2 things the Bible has been used for in the past few centuries:
1)  Moral application (implied vs. real meaning)
2)  Knowledge:  Increase my knowledge and be closer to God.

2 Reasons we read in our present culture:
1)  Entertainment:  if not there, we move on quickly
2)  Information:  We search/find things quickly (Wikipedia)

THE BIBLE:  Feels non-entertaining and non-informative to our practical everyday life, so we forego it (explain).
Practicing the Sacred Reading:
1)  Quiet Your Surroundings (solitude, turn everything off, ignore the pressures of the day)
2)  Pick a passage and practice:
            A) Lectio:  Read slowly 3 times (once out loud if possible)
            B) Meditate:  What are the values in the passage?
                        What emotions are coming out of me as I read it?
                        Where do I see my life in this?
            C) Bring God in:  Ask the Holy Spirit to be there.
                        Hear God through the Bible.
            D) Contemplate the practical:  allow the passage to become
                        a part of your soul, and thus, a part of your life.

 
POSSIBLE PASSAGES:
Psalm 1-150;  Proverbs;  Isaiah 43:1-7;  Isaiah 58;  Matthew 5 – 7;  Luke 22 – 24;  John 15;  John 20: 19-29;  Romans 5:1-11;  Romans 6;  Romans 8;  Romans 12;  2 Corinthians 4 & 5;  Philippians 2:1-11;  Philippians 2:12-18;  Philippians 3;  Ephesians 5:15-33; Colossians 2:6-23;  James;  I, II, and III John;

Possible Bibles to use:  “The Message” by Eugene Peterson (Get Old & New Testament version)   “The Voice New Testament” (Thomas Nelson Publisher)

 
 

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