Scripture Meditation: God Expects Lament

“Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?”
Psalm 44: 24, NRSV

The writer of this Psalm of lament notes in the the earlier verses that God surely would know if he had lifted his hands to worship another God. It’s just as likely that God wouldn’t be surprised to hear the laments of his people in the midst of their suffering.

Of course God doesn’t literally hide from us or forget our suffering. In our darkest moments it can surely seem that God is distant and hidden, but even if these remain impossible things for God to do, the Spirit guided these poets to share their laments, frustrations, and fears in the starkest language possible.

What do you fear today about God?

What do you leave unspoken about God?

What if today you could be completely honest with God?

It’s possible that the scriptures telling us about God’s knowledge of our thoughts can assure us. God knows our deepest laments and fears but continues to reach out to anyone who is thirsty and heavy-burdened.

 

For Reflection

 

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Scripture Meditation: Responding to God with Silence

O LORD, I am not proud; I have no haughty looks. I do not occupy myself with great matters, or with things that are too hard for me. But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother’s breast, my soul is quieted within me.
Psalm 131:1-3

 

Do you believe that God desires to nurture, protect, and guide you? Can you accept that God desires you to rest like a child resting with his/her mother?

Stillness and quiet are appropriate, even essential responses to God.

 

For Reflection

Meditation for August 30

 

Scripture Meditation: Waiting on God’s Generousity

Jesus taught in the parable of the vineyard laborers:

“Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” 
Matthew 20:15, RSV

 

Envy will dismantle the patience that is growing within us, robbing us of the joy of God’s blessings when they finally come to us. God is generous, but we all experience that generosity in different ways and at different times.

God’s generosity will not spare us seasons of darkness and doubt. It’s possible that waiting helps us view his generosity with greater clarity.

 

For Reflection

Meditation for August 24

 

 

 

Featured Article: Tips for Overcoming Distraction

Whether at work with our writing or seeking the quiet of contemplative prayer, distractions will become a major challenge. Thankfully, there are some tried and true ways to approach our days and to organize our tasks in order to make the most of our time.

This article in the Harvard Business Review offers a great summary of the latest research in overcoming distractions in our day to day lives:

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“Start trying a simple mindfulness practice when you wake up, which can be anything from quietly taking a few deep breaths to meditating for 20 or 30 minutes. Dr. Seppälä explains why this is so important: ‘Meditation is a way to train your nervous system to calm despite the stress of our daily lives.'”

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“Instead of struggling to accomplish what matters, you can take advantage of your body’s natural rhythms. Focus on complex, creative tasks in the morning; these things will tend to be ones you accomplish individually or with 2–3 other people. Push all other meetings to the afternoon.”

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“If you want to avoid wasting time and burning out, add buffer time between each meeting. For every 45–60 minutes you spend in a meeting, make sure to take 15 minutes or more to process, reflect, and prioritize.”

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Read more at the Harvard Business Review…

 

 

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Friday Favorites for Prayer and Writing

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, then I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@edcyzewski) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

7 Ways Thomas Merton Changed the World

Letters from a Devastated Artist

How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western (A powerful story of how writing can help us face the worst parts of the world.)

How to Create an Internal Mindset Conducive to Writing

The Slowest, Best Conversion (My guest post for Emily P. Freeman, whose blog and books I highly recommend!)

Keep the Contemplative Writer Sustainable

The Contemplative writer is ad-free and never shares sponsored content, but it is a lot of work to maintain. We rely on affiliate links from the books we share and the generous gifts of our readers. An automated monthly gift as low as $1 per month or a one-time gift of $5 goes a long way to sustaining our mission to provide contemplative prayer resources for our readers. Thank you!

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Make a one-time gift via PayPal (credit cards accepted!)


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Featured Book: Falling Upward

Falling-Upward-RohrWeek Two: Moving Beyond Control

Contemplation creates a space in our lives for God to settle and perhaps speak without our intellects trying to control our religious experience. In Falling Upward, Richard Rohr writes that the first half of life is particularly hostile toward contemplation because we are struggling to define our identities and beliefs.

However, many find that the boundaries we’ve devoted our first half of life to constructing are never as solid as we thought. This is where the falling comes in. Most importantly, this is where we can find true spiritual growth.

The loss of control over our spirituality can open us to new movements of the Spirit of God. Here’s what Richard Rohr has to say in Falling Upward:

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The very unfortunate result of this preoccupation with order, control, safety, pleasure, and certitude is that a high percentage of people never get to the contents of their own lives! Human life is about more than building boundaries, protecting identities, creating tribes, and teaching impulse control.

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Very few Christians have been taught how to live both law and freedom at the same time. Our Western dualistic minds do not process paradoxes very well. Without a contemplative mind, we do not know how to hold creative tensions.

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God has to undo our illusions secretly, as it were, when we are not watching and not in perfect control, say the mystics. That is perhaps why the best word for God is actually Mystery. We move forward in ways that we do not even understand and through the quiet workings of time and grace.

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Read more…

 

For Reflection

What are you trying to control today?

Take 5 minutes to surrender that part of your life to God today.

Featured Book June 27, 2016.jpg

 

 

 

 

Friday Favorites

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, then I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@edcyzewski) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

The Human Cost of Digital Technology

Confessions of a Media Protective Parent

Is Contemplation Dangerous?

I Once Was Lost and Now Am Lost Again…

Productivity Apps for Busy Writers

From Ed’s Blog: Evangelicals Need to Sit in a Room and Say Nothing for a Long Time

 

Keep the Contemplative Writer Sustainable

The Contemplative writer is ad-free and never shares sponsored content, but it is a lot of work to maintain. We rely on affiliate links from the books we share and the generous gifts of our readers. An automated monthly gift as low as $1 per month or a one-time gift of $5 goes a long way to sustaining our mission to provide contemplative prayer resources for our readers. Thank you!

Choose a recurring monthly donation:

support-patreon-orange

Make a one-time gift via PayPal (credit cards accepted!)


Donate Now Button

Learn more about how to support us.

 

Featured Contemplative Book: The Ragamuffin Gospel

ragamuffin Gospel coverWeek Two: What the Cross Tells Us

Brennan Manning writes that we can make the mistake of turning salvation into a process or transaction when the cross itself is God’s ultimate act of love for us. The cross tells us just how deeply God loves us.

As I’ve read the works of contemplative Christians, I’ve noticed that many of them had their most profound revelations while meditating on the cross. It’s on the cross that God demonstrated his commitment to saving us through a different kind of power that doesn’t resort to force or degrading others. The cross tells us just how far God’s love will go for us.

The cross tells us that God saw a violent, self-centered people and still preferred to sacrifice himself at the mercy of our religious and political institutions rather than demanding the love and honor that is his due.

We are continuing our feature of Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel this month where he reflects on the love of God and the meaning of the cross:

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“We need a new kind of relationship with the Father that drives out fear and mistrust and anxiety and guilt, that permits us to be hopeful and joyous, trusting and compassionate…

The gospel of grace calls us to sing of the everyday mystery of intimacy with God instead of always seeking for miracles or visions. It calls us to sing of the spiritual roots of such commonplace experiences as falling in love, telling the truth, raising a child, teaching a class, forgiving each other after we have hurt each other, standing together in the bad weather of life, of surprise and sexuality, and the radiance of existence.” Page 77-78

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“In his monumental work The Crucified God, Jürgen Moltmann writes, ‘We have made the bitterness of the cross, the revelation of God in the cross of Jesus Christ, tolerable to ourselves by learning to understand it as a necessity for the process of salvation.’” Page 108

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“Do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you? I believe that this question is at the core of our ability to mature and grow spiritually. If in our hearts we really don’t believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross.” Page 165

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For Reflection

Featured Book June 6 2016 (1)

 

Scripture Meditation: How to Restore Your Soul

 

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.”
Psalm 23:2-3a

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Meditation

Seasons of weariness are coming. There’s no guarantee that God will shield us from hard times, from weakness, and from souls that desperately need restoration. While we can anticipate draining, difficult seasons, we are assured that God will restore us.

Are we prepared to receive the restoration that comes from God?

Restoration may look like stopping, lying down, and seeking places of peace and stillness. Perhaps we will resist God’s restoration to the point that he will “make” us lie down.

Finding God’s rest takes faith, trusting that God can lead us and sustain us, especially when we stop trying to maintain control. May we have eyes to see the gentle hand of God leading us to restoration.

 

Reflection

Why have you resisted restoration?

When has your soul grown weary lately?

What does it look like to trust God with restoring your soul today?

 

 

Scripture Meditation: Trusting God to Care for Our Souls

 

“To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; my God I put my trust in you; . . .”
Psalm 25:1

Meditation

I bible-1440953-1279x852have long wondered what it means to “lift up my soul” to God, but I recently read one suggestion that “lifting up” our souls to God is a surrender. Lifting up my soul is a handing over of control to God.

A weary soul is consumed with the cares of this world, distracted by entertainment and greed, or caught up in pleasing others. Perhaps we “lift up” our souls to others each day as we hope they’ll notice us, affirm us, or meet a deep need.

Trust is no small matter. Is God worthy of our trust? Will God show up if we lift up our souls to him?

The practice of contemplation opens our souls to the presence of God. It’s a lifting of our souls to God, inviting him to care for us and our souls. Over time, we will learn to place greater trust in God, but we must begin by lifting up our souls in faith and expectation.

 

Reflection

How is your soul today?

Are you lifting up your soul to something or someone other than God?

What does it look like to trust God with your soul