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A Community of Prayer

John 17:6-19
Psalm 1

Both our scriptures today invite us to be a community of prayer. In the gospel of John, just before his arrest, Jesus prays to God to help the disciples as they seek to fulfill their mission in the world. Jesus prays for their protection, and that they will be made holy in the truth. Jesus prays for the community and, so prayed for, the community of Jesus becomes a community of prayer.

The psalmist exults in a relationship grounded in God’s ways. When the choices one makes are life-giving and in harmony with God’s ways, the psalmist declares in Psalm 1,there is delight. The psalm commends meditating on the laws of God, calling to mind the practices of faith that help us stay grounded in God.

Philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard once said: “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” Sometimes in prayer we treat God like the divine bellhop in the sky sending our demands and wishes looking for magical action, and then wondering why we don’t get what we want. Prayer is much deeper than that.

For me, prayer is deepening into sacred space, opening to the presence of the Holy, connecting with a deeper Source at the heart of all that is. It’s a listening for God, practicing the presence of God…Being awake, open, noticing the nudges that come ever so subtly. There are many ways to pray…We can pray out loud with words, kind of like a conversation as we name our concerns. Many fell called to contemplative prayer of biblical words, or a visual image, or a thought, simply being contemplatively in nature, in your garden, in your walking. Sitting in Silence listening for the inner movements of the soul. Or one can pray with meditation, using imagery from scripture or from nature. Some people pray actively through their doing, Margaret Silf from Sojourners says that “Prayer that works is prayer that makes a difference, contemplation that turns into action, on behalf of peace and justice in a troubled and unjust world system. Prayer is energy, the energy of love and transformative power. It is given to us to use for the good of all creation. In prayer God gives us the fuel of life, and asks us to live it.”

As we pray, we become firmly grounded in our relationship with God, and we are changed. Grounded in God we come to know where our life is called. To be guided in prayer is to invite transformation. We trust God; and come to realize that God has entrusted us to live our lives with integrity and justice and meaning grounded in God’s way.
I invite us to a brief meditation on the image from the psalm today This will include our prayers of the people today and we will sing Like a Mighty River Flowing at the end of it.
Meditation:
Close your eyes Become aware of your breathing … this life-giving process that goes on all of the time … even when we are not conscious of it … Notice if you are breathing with only a small part of your lungs … or whether you are taking the breath deeply into your whole being … down to the bottom of your lungs … up to the tops of your shoulders … Notice if your tummy moves in and out as you inhale and as you exhale … This is how a baby breathes when it is breathing naturally … before its body has become tensed and locked up with the stress of living …

Breathe in Peace…Breathe out anxiety
Breathe in love…breathe out fear.
Breathe in hope…breathe out despair…
Breathe in joy…Breathe out stress…..
Breathe in the healing presence of God … the goodness and grace of God … Take it right into the core of your being … Breathe out the poisons … physical … emotional … spiritual that have built up in your system
Notice the inner space that is being prepared and opened up inside you … space for the Sacred Presence to find room … Space for the Holy One to be with you … Your own sacred space … your own holy ground …

In that place, I invite you to imagine yourself as a tree, planted near a life-giving stream of water … What kind of tree are you? … How tall are you? … How healthy is your growth? … Be in touch with the texture of your trunk … and how your branches spread out into the sky …

Imagine your roots going down deeply into the soil … Feel your feet opening as the roots go deep down into the earth drawing up what you need from the earth Feel the goodness of the earth…the moisture from the living water of the stream.. the energy of the earth and the water coming into your roots … drawing up into your feet … Notice if this energy has a colour …

Feel it rise in your strong trunk … bringing life as it moves through your ankles … your legs … your torso … down through your arms … and up through the top of your head … Imagine your trunk strong rising to the sky … carrying this nurture to the branches …

Now bring awareness to your branches … Be in touch with these branches as they reach out to the cosmos … Imagine them reaching up and drawing in the sacred energy of the sky … drawing in the sacred energy of the sun … of the air … of the rain … of the whole cosmos beyond this earth … Imagine this as sacred white healing light … light of the Creator … light of Christ flowing into you … bringing you the energy and life of the Creator … Feel the profound love that comes in this light …

Allow this energy to flow into your body through the top of your head … filling your mind and your thinking … your eyes and their seeing … your ears and their hearing … your mouth and your speaking … Feel it moving through your throat … awakening your voice and your creativity … moving into your heart … opening your heart space … filling it with holy love … Imagine it flowing through your whole body … as it connects with and dances with the energy you have drawn up from the earth …

Feel the dance of life in you … Feel the tree of life rooted deep in the earth … linking earth and sky … reaching to the stars … connecting with the presence of God that flows through you and through all of creation … Allow this flow of life to balance your mind … your body … and your spirit … Allow this flow of life to enliven and to heal your mind … your body … and your spirit … Take some time to bathe in this healing flow of spirit … Allow this flow of life … this flow of love to pour through you as you touch your world with healing …

Imagine God’s healing love flowing through you to those for whom you have deep concern—to those in our community who are ill…to those living with large transition and challenges…Allow God’s healing peace to flow through you to places of violence and fear…Allow God’s desire for justice to flow through you to places of injustice…allow God’s hope to flow through you to places of despair.

Rooted and grounded in the Holy one allow that intention for wholeness, for justice, for healing, for peace, for hope, to be through you as you live your life this week.

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