Category Archives: Word-Based Prayer

Exercise 29: A Prayer for…

Background:  This exercise is a challenging one…  And goes best with minimal introduction.

 

Spiritual Exercise

  1.  Find your center.  Take a deep breath.
  2.  Breathe slowly, in through the nose.  
  3. Breathe out through the mouth.  If you like, place your hand on your abdomen, and feel the breath coming in and out.
  4. When you are ready, consider the things you are wishing for right now; what are you asking, from God?  They might be very specific.  They might be very abstract.  Whatever they are, bring them to mind.
  5. Consider the people you struggle with.  Enemies and opponent, people you struggle with.
  6. Bring back to mind the things you are wishing for.  And pray that the people that you are struggling with receive these things you are hoping for yourself.

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Exercise 28: The Jesus Prayer

Background: The Eastern (Orthodox) churches have a long history of supporting the repetition of this phrase.  It is traditionally suggested that this be said from the “heart” and not the “head.”  The instructions are generally to say it with out ceasing, preferably out loud.  The goal is to reach a place of ceaseless prayer, where these words are constantly being thought and experienced.

The Exercise

  1.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  
  2. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
  3. Say the following words out loud.  Try to feel their meaning.  “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
  4. Repeat that phrase for the duration of your spiritual practice.

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You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

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Exercise 27: The Examen

Background: St. Ignatius is closely tied to the Catholic Tradition.  His work still guides many spiritual retreats.

One of his practices is an exploration of those things which bring us closer to God– consolations, and those things which bring us further from God– desolations.

It should be noted that The Examen might be written or practiced by thinking and saying the words.

Spiritual Exercise:

  1.  Find your center by placing your feet flat on the floor.  
  2. Breathe and relax, as best you can.
  3. When you are ready, bring the last 24 hours to your mind.  Continue to breathe slowly, in through the nose and out through the mouth.  Begin by reliving where you were 24 hours ago.  Gradually, bring yourself through the last day of your life.
  4. Consider your desolations:
    1. What are you least thankful for?
    2. Where can’t you see God?
    3. What seems to be moving you away from God?
  5. Release your desolations by breathing slowly and calmly.
  6. Consider your consolations.
    1. What are you most thankful for?
    2. Where can you see God?
    3. What seems to be moving you toward God?
  7. Release your consolations by breathing slowly and carefully.
  8. As you consider the last 24 hours in their fullness, are there any things you would like to consider: was God, perhaps moving in things you initially labelled ‘desolations?’  Is it possible that God was not present in things you initially labelled ‘Consolations’?
  9. Release the word-based part of the practice.  Enjoy a moment with God.

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You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

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Exercise 23: The Five Remembrances

Background: It is amazing how much time and energy we give to running away.

Our business, our obsession with smart phones, with constantly filling the air with talking and music.  These seem to be an attempt to free ourselves from the realities of life.

The funny thing is that the realities of life are not so bad.  They just are.  There is not an alternative to them.  If we could actually deny them, it might almost be worth it.  But we never truly escape the things we know.  We just pretend we have escaped knowing them.

The Five Buddhist Remembrances are great reminders for people from any orientation.  The version used in today’s exercise comes via Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

Exercise

  1.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  As best you can, relax.
  2. Think the first remembrance, with your next inhale: I am of the nature to grow old.  There is no way to escape growing old.
  3.  For the exhale, and the whole next breath, embrace this reality.
  4. With your next inhale, think the second remembrance:   I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.
  5. For the exhale and the whole next breath, embrace this reality.
  6. With your next inhale, think the third remembrance: I am of the nature to die.  There is no way to escape death.
  7. For the exhale and the whole next breath, recognize this true.
  8. With your next inhale, embrace the fourth remembrance:  All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  9. Exhale, and breathe your next breathe.  And accept this reality.
  10. With your next inhale, acknowledge this, the final Buddhist Remembrance:  My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
  11. Release these words, and sit in the truth that you are facing.  Hopefully you feel freed by this.

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Exercise 12: Constant Repetition

Background: Any word, repeated enough, begins to sound like nonsense.

It seems to me that when we use a word only once or twice, we have an easy time mistaking the letter-sounds for the thing those letters stand for.  But as we repeat the word, we come face-to-face with the fact that the sounds are arbitrary.  For example, when we say the word ‘cat’ once, we get a picture in our mind.  But when we say the word repeatedly, we are reminded there is nothing inherent to those letters that actually connects them to the animal.  It is merely an agreement that more-or-less randomly assigned these particularly sounds.

Saying a word over and over, creates a sort-of white noise, for me.  It begins with the meaning of the word.  But slowly even this fades into the background, leaving me in a state beyond words.

Exercise

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Choose your sacred word.
  3. Say the word.  Out loud, if possible.  Say it with out ceasing.  Say it a calm, measured rate; say it as many times as you can with each exhale.  Think it, or mouth it as many times as you can with each inhale.
  4. If you find yourself distracted by thoughts or feelings, return your attention to the saying of that single word.

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You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

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Exercise 11: The Word We Need the Most

Background: One of the most stunning images in the book of Revelation is the idea that we will be given a stone engraved with our true name.

I don’t know if we can find that true name in this life.  But I do know that sometimes, a single word can make a whole lot of difference.

As you engage this, or any practice which seeks to clear the mind, do your best to recognize that the goal is not to have a distraction-free mind.  Don’t grow frustrated as thoughts, feelings, and memories enter your awareness.  It is your mind’s job to furnish thoughts, feelings, and memories.  These will arise.  Growing frustrated with them chains us to a hamster wheel, a vicious circle.

Instead of growing frustrated with the “intrustions.”  Give yourself a bit of credit as you remember to gently dismiss these perceptions with your sacred word.

Exercise:

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.  Breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  2. Ask God– or yourself– where you are, right now.  Consider how you are doing.
  3. Move on to thinking about what it is you most need.  
  4. As best you can, boil this down to a single word.  Consider words like “Peace.”  “Loved.”  “Calm.”  “Safe.”  “Settled.”
  5. Say that word that you need the most.  Hear it being said to you.  Hear it being said by you.
  6. Continue your slow and careful breathing.  Release everything else.
  7. When thoughts, feelings, concerns threaten to intrude, introduce your sacred word.  Be assured: This word, applied gently to the intrusion, is enough.  It will dismiss your concerns.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

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Exercise 10: Centered Prayer

Father Thomas Keating has popularized a practice that is rooted in a centuries-old book called ‘The Cloud of Unknowing.’

It begins with the choice of a sacred word.  It should be noted that this sacred word might be an image, or even the breath itself.  The instructions below presume the practioner is going the word-route.

Some of the more popular words chosen include “Love”  “Loved”  “Spirit”  “God” and “Yahwew.”  Before you begin, it is wise to have chosen your sacred word.  You should stick with your sacred word at least through the duration of your practice.

Proponents of centered prayer advocate working up to 2-30 minute sessions each day.

Exercise

  1.  Place your feet flat on the floor and relax.
  2. Say your sacred word.  Recognize that this is your consent to the holy spirit to come and meet with you.
  3. As best you can, clear your mind.
  4. Know that thoughts and feelings are bound to arise.  Each time they do, dismiss them gently by saying your sacred word.
  5. Set a goal of continuing this practice for at least 20 minutes; half an hour is even better.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
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