09/22/13 Sermon (September 22, 2013) (Meditation/Prayer)

posted Sep 25, 2013, 12:01 PM by David Hawkins

09/22/13 Sermon (September 22, 2013)


Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7 (Liturgist)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all-this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.


Sermon: "Prayer: The Discipline of Withdrawal"


Today, we are continuing our sermon series on the classical spiritual disciplines of the church. Last week, we discussed confession, the discipline of telling the truth, and the discipline of hearing the truth. Next week we will explore Frugality, the discipline of living within your means.

This week, we are looking into the discipline of prayer, the discipline of, as Paul says to Timothy, ‘First of all,’ making time to talk to, and listen to the Lord.

For some, the discipline of solitude and meditation comes easy. Too easy in fact. Because the reality is, some of us are hard-wired to be alone, to be secluded from other folks. We like it that way. We get energy that way. For introverts, the act of withdrawing from the hustle and bustle of large crowds of people is a comforting one. For extroverts, on the other hand, withdrawal is more of a punishment.

Now it’s important to realize that introverts aren’t necessarily shy or anti-social, and extroverts are not necessarily gregarious. Introversion and extroversion have nothing to do with mental health or strength or weakness. It has to do with the question: where do you get your energy? How are you refreshed? Or, what things exhaust you? Introverts are recharged by being alone. Extroverts are recharged by being with lots of people

So, the reality is, some folks might find that this discipline suits them just fine. Being alone is a comfort, in fact, it is energizing. But, for those who like to be around people, the act of withdrawing is not attractive at all. It offers no discernable benefit, and in fact, is an enervating, exhausting experience.

And yet, prayer and meditation are a necessary part of our spiritual well-being. The act of slowing down and being still, even for just a few minutes, resets our emotional clocks, it reboots our spiritual hard drives. We spin, and we spin, and we spin in the hamster wheels of our daily routines, and sometimes, we need to shut down, and let our souls recalibrate.

But there is more to the discipline of prayer and meditation than just withdrawal and connecting with God.

Because the key part of listening for God’s word is to do something with it, once you’ve heard it. It’s kind of like changing gears on a standard transmission (does anybody here still know how to drive a standard transmission?): first you step on the clutch, and you disengage. And that’s mediation. But at some point, you’ve got to put the car in gear, and re-engage.

And I think that this is the part of the discipline that might be difficult for some introverts. That the point of meditation is not just to seclude one’s self in the desert, or the library, or the study, alone with God. Because even though that is very, very tempting there comes a time when the word that is received needs to be lived out in real life, among real people.

Because when God speaks, something happens. In the beginning when God spoke, there was light. When God spoke, heaven and earth sprang into being. When God speaks, slaves are freed, empires fall, justice is restored.  

When God speaks, it’s not ever just a private little conversation between you and God, to be buried somewhere in the backyard, hidden under the bed, or treasured in a jewelry box. The word of God is a living thing, and in order for it to thrive, it has to take root not just in our own hearts, but in the way we live our lives.

And so the challenge of this discipline is two-fold: For those of us who are extroverts, it might be difficult to enter into a period of being alone. To not be connected to other people. To let go of the need to be stimulated by the noise of an exciting and ever changing world.

On the other hand, it might be difficult for introverts to re-engage the world, and all its exhausting unpredictability after the comfort of solitude of meditation. It might be difficult to not use meditation as an excuse to avoid the difficulty of engaging the complexity that comes from real, human relationships.

To put it into a more modern context, try to imagine Penny and Sheldon, from the TV show, The Big Bang Theory, each trying to do meditation. I can imagine that Penny would find it difficult to be alone long enough and quiet enough to reach a place of contemplative peace, and Sheldon, well, he might not really embrace the prayer part of meditation, but he would be perfectly content to not ever come out his room to be around people again.

So, for all you Pennys and Sheldons out there, I would like to encourage all of us to think about prayerful meditation this week. I am going to be posting ideas for meditation on the church website, and we will e-mail some ideas every day that you might use, or you might not. The main thing is, that I would like to invite all of us to find at least 15 minutes every day, where we don’t listen to music, we don’t check e-mail or facebook, we don’t watch the news or think about the stock market.

Fifteen minutes, by yourself, in a quiet place, contemplating God. This might mean reading scripture, devotionals, or it might mean just quiet prayer, as Paul suggests to Timothy, offering supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings, for those you know, those you don’t, those who govern, those who teach, those who heal. You know yourself best. Be creative, and find something that works for you.

In preparation for this week, we are now going to spend some time in contemplative prayer, in an ancient form of meditation called ‘Lectio Divina’, which means “Sacred Word”

For this mediation, there will be four movements: I will read today’s scripture again, and I invite you to listen for a particular word or phrase that sticks out at you. In light of that word or phrase, I will ask three questions for you to consider. I will then offer a short prayer, and finally we will rest in silent expectation of the presence of God. Each of these four movements will be introduced by this small gong. I would like to mention how much I appreciate the Reverand Davis Price, pastor down at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lubbock for letting me borrow his Himalayan singing bowl for today’s prayer.

Let us prepare to worship God.

Lectio Divina (10 minutes)

Lectio (reading): 1 Timothy 2:1-7 Listen for a word or phrase that catches your attention

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all-this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.


Meditatio (reflection) (5 Minutes) (Pastor)
What is God saying to you in this text?
What is God saying to our church in this text?
What is God saying to the world in this text?

Oratio (Prayer)
Eternal God,
You never fail to give us each day all that we ever need,
and even more.
Give us such joy in living
and such peace in serving Christ,
that we may gratefully make use of all your blessings,
and joyfully seek our risen Lord
in everyone we meet.
In Jesus Christ we pray.
Amen.

Contemplatio (rest) (5 minutes)




Comments