Yesterday at the end of my sermon, I shared a practice that I have tried to do every day for the last nine months or so that I loosely called “Praying the Senses.” A few people asked me for some details around what I do in that practice, so I thought I would offer it publicly for anyone who wants it. I also had a few people ask for some resources around the presence of God and spiritual disciplines, so I’ll also link a few books that I’ve found helpful at the bottom of this post.
As a means for slowing down and recognizing God’s presence in my life, I began this practice or praying over the different parts of my body. This isn’t a formula for righteousness but a practice for opening myself up to God to be examined so that I will be transformed by the image of Christ. I offer this as a guide to be adapted into your life for what your needs are. Please take this and make it your own. Thank you for walking with me on this journey.
I begin my time of prayerful reflection by touching different parts of my face and praying. I typically go in this order but there’s nothing magical about it.
Lips: Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise (Ps 51:15). Make my words your words. Help me to be slow to speak. When I speak, let me offer a kind word, an encouraging word, let me speak grace and peace, but slow my tongue. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my rock, and my Redeemer (Ps 19:14).
Ear: Let me be quick to listen and slow to speak. Let me hear your voice. Help me to hear the words I need to hear and allow the noise of this world to pass, unheard. Help me to hear the voice of those crying out. Help me to be present to those who are speaking to me.
Eyes:Lord, protect my eyes from all impurity. Open my eyes to see the world as you see it and as you desire it to be. Help me to see Christ in the face of those who are hurting. Help me to see Christ in the face of those who despise me, want to harm me, and who do not love me. Help me to see Christ in the face of my enemies that I might long for our redemption together.
Mind:Clear my mind from chatter. Help me to let go of the things I need to let go of. Give rest and peace to my worried and cluttered mind. Lord, give me wisdom that I might walk in your Light.
Body:Make my body an instrument of your grace, peace, and love. I offer to you my body for your service. Continue to wash over me the water of your baptism that I might be made new in your image.
It is in and through Christ that I offer all that I am in prayer. Examine me and reveal to me where I fall short that I might be made new. Amen.
I pray some variation of this prayer along with the Lord’s Prayer most mornings and try to spend some time with each part just resting and listening to what God might reveal in me. I’m hesitant in sharing this publicly because I fail to live up to this prayer daily. We are all on a journey and I want to walk together. Let’s learn from one another and spur one another on towards love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).
Here are some resources on Spirituality, Spiritual Disciplines, and the Presence of God. Some of these are books I’ve read and re-read. Some are books that I want to read that were recommended to me by mentors of mine. If you have any questions for what you might need to be reading, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruth Haley Barton– I’ve read another book by her on Spiritual Disciplines and Leadership. I’ve heard a number of recommendations for these two books. I would love to get a group together to work through “Sacred Rhythms” together. Let me know if you’re interested in doing that.
Lee C. Camp – I’ve interacted with this book a number of times in the last decade. Camp is from our fellowship in the Churches of Christ and is a professor at Lipscomb University.
Richard J. Foster– I had to read “Streams of Living Water” for a class this year and it is excellent! Foster is from the Quaker tradition and has offered a lot in the conversations around spiritual disciplines.
Thomas R. Kelly– This is on my list to read soon. Kelly is also from the Quaker tradition and has been called one of the greatest thinkers/authors of our day in regard to Spirituality. One of my mentors regards this book as a must read for everyone.
Brother Lawrence– Lawrence is a 17th century monk. This is a short read and very powerful for understanding the presence of God in all of life.
Henri J.M. Nouwen– “The Way of the Heart” was transformative for me early on in ministry. This is the book Cameron was referring to when he spoke Sunday morning. It is a very short and convicting read. I read it once a year for many years and need to get back into that habit. Read anything and everything by Nouwen.
Richard Rohr– He is a Franciscan Friar in New Mexico and is one of the best authors and speakers of our day. He’s written a number of books that I need to dig up and add to this list but this one is a good start.
James K.A. Smith– Smith is a Canadian Philosopher whose writing has been influential in my life in recent years for helping me see direction for the church in post-Christian America. I’m actually in the middle of reading this book right now.