I’ll begin with an excerpt from the book, “The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life,” a compilation of Henri Nouwen’s writings:
“The Divine Spirit Praying in Us
The practice of contemplative prayer is the discipline by which we begin to see God in our heart. It is a careful attentiveness to the One who dwells in the center of our being such that through the recognition of God’s presence we allow God to take possession of all our senses. Through the discipline of prayer we awaken ourselves to the God in us and let God enter into our heartbeat and our breathing, into our thoughts and emotions, our hearing, seeing, touching, and tasting. It is by being awake to this God in us that we can see God in the world around us. The great mystery of the contemplative life is not that we see God in the world, but that God within us recognizes God in the world. God speaks to God, Spirit speaks to Spirit, heart speaks to heart. Contemplation, therefore, is a participation in this divine self-recognition. It is the divine Spirit praying in us who makes our world transparent and opens our eyes to the presence of the divine Spirit in all that surrounds us. It is with our hearts that we see the heart of the world. This explains the intimate relationship between contemplation and ministry.”
I take away from this a couple of things:
1. Namaste-It’s a common form of greeting in India and Nepal. One translation is “The Divine Light in me recognizes The Divine Light in you.” I like this greeting because it reminds me that I am a child of God and He dwells in me. But it also reminds me that everyone else is too. When we say it to someone else, it is a gentle reminder to them, as well, of the presence of God within them. It’s unfortunate that our culture pretty much sees it as just plain weird)
2. “Let God enter into our heartbeat and our breathing…” I find this part interesting because God is already in there! We are just quieting ourselves enough so that we are more aware of His Divine presence!
3. “The Divine Spirit praying within us…”
But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative--that is, the Holy Spirit--he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.
Tonight we’ll try using a “Sacred Word” to help us keep our minds focused. The word, which we each choose ourselves, is used to help us bring our minds back from wandering.
Some word suggestions might be Possible "Jesus," "Christos," "Jesus Christ," "Father," "Abba," "God," "Amen," "God." Other possibilities are "Love," "Peace," "Mercy," "Listen," "Yes,” “Shalom.”
You may prefer a short phrase, such as “Lead me,” “Kyrie Eleison,” “Christe Eleison,”
The key is find one that you are comfortable and stick with it during your meditation. Don’t change around. Stick with it. Also, you may wish to find one that will work with inhaling and exhaling. “Lead Me,” for example, is good because it sounds smooth and works with breath.