“You Return To Me, I’ll Return To You!” Zechariah 1:3
Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal is one of our favorite pieces of art. It communicates the reality of God’s open-armed devotion to us. At every homecoming, this is our reality. Losing our way and returning is a part of the human condition. Whether we’ve been long gone or just coming home at the end of the day, the invitation is always to come back to God.
We love the story of a student beginning to pray and practice “returning” with contemplative prayer. The student told his teacher, “My mind is full of noise. I can’t quiet myself to hear a word that isn’t my own! During today’s prayer, my mind wandered to 10,000 different things before I remembered and returned to my intention to “be still and know God.” The teacher looked at him with love and said, “How wonderful! You returned to God 10,000 times today! Keep doing that.”
Would you like to practice contemplation with Returning Prayer? Here is a way to practice.
Before you begin: Find a comfortable place to sit where you will be undisturbed. Choose a name or image of God that means something to you right now. The following are examples from Scripture: Father receiving a prodigal child, Jesus laying hands and healing, Holy Spirit, Truth, Mother Hen gathering chicks, Friend, Healer, Rose of Sharon, Captain of Angel Armies, Lamb of God, Morning Star, Mother comforting her child, Savior, etc.
Once you choose a name or image, set the alarm for a minimum of 5 and up to 20 minutes and follow these 4 movements.
1. Sit comfortably with your back straight and feet on the ground. Open your hands on your lap or gently fold them. Be still, enter the gift of silence. Breathe easy and notice the gift of your breath. Open your heart, breathe in and remember that you are the beloved of God.
2. Now hold the name or image of God that has meaning for you. Allow this image to act as a handle during your prayer time.
3. When other thoughts come into your mind (and they will) don’t get attached to them. Let them pass like clouds in the sky and return ever so gently to your name or image for God.
4. End your prayer time with one of these options:
–A prayer of thanks in your own words…
– Prayer of trust from Scripture
“In returning and rest I am saved; in quietness and in trust is my strength” (personalized from Isaiah 30:15 NRSV).
-The Prayer Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:9
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those, who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.
To learn more about the benefits of contemplative prayer and If you would like to practice with others, join us tonight at Crossroads from 5:50-6:20 in the Cafe’. You are also welcome to stay for the men’s or women’s meetings after the prayer meeting.
Returning to God with you,
Clare and Scott
Tuesday at Crossroads
5:50-6:20: Returning Prayer
6:30-8:00: Men and Women’s Meetings