For a little while now I’ve been keen to explore the whole contemplative approach to a devotional life.  I suppose this stems a little from being a little bored of bible reading notes which tell you what to think, rather than creating space for you to hear from God.  So, instead, I’m in a season of trying to simply ‘experience’ – which of course sits alongside the need for accountability with brothers and sisters in Christ.

In trying to do this, I’ve come across a few useful bits and pieces, which I’ll post here as I’m journeying along.

Recently the fantastic Liz Sercombe spoke at ENC on the need to ‘breathe’ – basically, the need to slow down and receive, rather than simply rushing around in our spiritual journey.  That spoke deeply to me – and continues to do so.  So, I was delighted when I came across the following liturgy written by Christine Sine, posted by Jonny Baker.  It seems to be an ideal beginning to a moment of silent reflection:

Breathe out empty yourself: of hate, of fear, of anxiety
Breathe in fill yourself with love, with life, with mercy
Breathe out empty yourself of busyness, of selfishness of greed
Breathe in fill yourself with peace, with joy, with hope
Breathe out empty yourself of idolatry, of self worship, of false gods
Breathe in fill yourself with God, with Christ, with the Holy Spirit

All of this has chimed with watching a group of people experience ‘The Big Silence’ – well worth watching if you missed it first time round (see here for part 1 of 12 on youtube).  Something about being still and letting ‘it’ happen seems to be where I am at the moment…

If you fancy it, why not journey with me?  I’d be fascinated to hear your thoughts. How easy do you find it to stop and ‘be still’? Even if the God bit doesn’t mean anything to you, what if there’s something important about taking time out every now and again? Maybe it’s worth exploring a little deeper?


6 thoughts on “breathe…

  1. Your point about devotional notes is very apt – while it is always useful to read other’s insights on passages, they tend not to make as much of an impact on me than when I sit and quietly ‘chew through’ (sorry – ‘meditate upon’) scripture for myself with God.

    Sure it’s slower – but somehow I think that’s the point. Great thoughts Martin.

    1. Thanks, Ben – the best notes give you tools to meditate, but too many seem to be more interested in getting you to view the text from a particular point of view…whether ‘theological soundness’ or simply personal perspective. Nothing wrong with either (Jo Soper’s notes are particularly good…by the way) but there does seem to be a fear amongst many readers to engage directly with the text, rather than engaging with it themselves.

  2. hey Martin, great post. Thanks.
    being still was a pretty alien concept for me until the last few years. Well, that is not strictly true, but, for a long time, I experienced church as somewhere you went to do a whole load of jobs, where responsibilities had to be kept, and essentially, where the raison d’etre was to be busy. A time to breathe seemed to be confined to a minute or two before and after a service.
    I have to say, I am glad to have broken away from this, having found somewhere where ‘permission’ to just be present and listen to God is all around.
    In times gone by (when I worked as a sports therapist in pro-cycling) breathing exercises, and breathing based meditations were one of my more effective tools, especially in psychologically preparing my team for the next day’s competition. Breathing is something we generally just do, without a second thought, but the space created by doing it in a much more focused way is awesome.

    1. Hi Tobit – thanks for your thoughts. I grew up in a church where stillness/silence was to be feared…we usually launched into a chorus if nothing happened for more than 30 seconds. You could sense people sweating as the prayer time went by without anyone speaking! There is something about the release from the tyranny of busy-ness and importance and noise that I sense is really important. I guess I’ve know this for a while, but am only really now understanding it properly.

  3. Hi Martin, thanks for your thoughts. Been thinking this sort of stuff over myself on my blog.
    I’m quite interested in the celtic/monastic rhythm to life, which of course includes plenty of silence. I’m now looking for ways to build this into my own daily life, whilst maintaining a Salvationist/missional flavour. Fun stuff!

    1. Hey Dave! How’s the snow?!

      Us Salvos weren’t exactly known for those monastic/reflective/contemplative qualities, were we? Although prayer has always been a key part of Army life it strikes me that more often than not it’s more about telling God what we want him to do rather than listening to what he wants us to do. Having said that, that’s probably true about all evangelical traditions!


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