A 10 Minute Guided Prayer Activity:
I would assume that perhaps you are a bit like me: I default to thinking that the circumstances of my life are quite overwhelming. I am realizing that I go through life mostly believing that I am un-helped and un-seen. But that is not true! I am actually more helped and more seen than I can even imagine...and, actually, the circumstances of my life don't have to overwhelm me! I have a Father, and a KING, who is in charge in a very mysterious way. His rule doesn't seem quite clear to me most of the time, but when I stir up my faith to remind myself of His care, I can rest. So today I offer a 10 minute prayer activity, for those of you who, like me, sometimes find it hard to remember that you are so cared for, so held.
Set aside at least ten minutes to be alone and quiet. Turn off the TV; turn your cell phone to quiet. Plan to do this at a time where you have set aside time that you probably won’t be interrupted.
Hold your hands kind of like you’re cupping something inside of them (like if you caught an insect like a lightning bug or something, and you didn’t want to squish it...but you also didn’t want to let it go 😃 ). As you hold your hands like that, with your eyes closed or open, whichever helps you concentrate more, start listing before the Lord, preferably out loud, concerns that you have. For example, “God, I’m worried about how much my daughter cares about her friends. It feels like I’m losing influence in her life. …God I’m worried about the disobedience in my son. I don’t know what to do about it. I try to throw different techniques at it, or just love him through it, but it never really gets addressed. I don’t know what to do. ...God, if I’m really honest, I feel like a failure as a parent, as a friend, in my job. ...God, my home feels out of control. ...God, our schedule feels so busy. I don’t know how I can manage the things I have on my plate. ...God, I’m worried about my health. ...God, I feel so alone, like no one really loves me,” etc, etc. Try to just keep listing worries that surface. You might have to sit quietly in between worries, waiting for the next honest worry to come to your mind. You might not have even known that you were worried about that thing, until you gave space to list those worries.
Try to linger, and to give yourself extra space to list more worries...don’t rush through this time. And try to give an extra sentence or two description to each worry to kind of tease out a bit more of how you're feeling, what's inside.
Once you feel that you’ve listed most of your worries, and there’s a kind of natural end to the ‘flow’ of things you've been carrying inside, just sit quietly for a few moments. Breathe quietly. Keep holding your hands in a cupped position. Imagine that you’re holding those worries cupped in your hands.
When you’re ready, face your palms upward and start saying aloud, “Lord, I release to You my worries about my daughter. I release to You my worries about my son. I release to You my worries about my husband/wife. I release to You my worries about my job. I release to you my worries about my conflict with my friend. I release to You my worries about our family. I release to You my worries about our schedule. I release to you my worries about my future. I release to You my worries about my capabilities. I release to you my worries about my health,” or whatever the worries were that you prayed about. Let yourself sense letting go of the worries, releasing them from your hands to the Lord’s hands. Breathe deeply as you're releasing the worries.
As the final part of the exercise, keep your hands palms face up, and now receive from the Lord. Say aloud truths about what you can receive because of what Jesus has done. This might feel like a humbling process, because we so want to do things ourselves. Here are some examples:
Jesus, I receive Your peace today. You are in control of these things.
Jesus, I receive Your rest today. I can slow down with trying to fix everything, and I can rest in Your care, Your timing, Your love for me.
Jesus, I receive Your power to help me show up where I need to today- to have conversations, to deal with things I need to, to engage...help me to choose to show up.
Jesus, I receive strength for this day.
Jesus, I receive Your love for me.
Jesus, I receive Your consolation and comfort that You see me, you see the ones I love, you see it all.
Jesus, I receive the truth that You are here.
Jesus, I receive the gift that my worth isn’t determined by my performance. I am accepted, I am prized, I am wanted, I am loved, I am enjoyed apart from if I get any of this perfect or not. It’s based in You, Your performance, and You wanting me and making me in the first place.
If you are sensing the sweetness of Jesus being close to you after praying and remembering that you are a child of God who receives those things freely, feel free to rest in the ‘manifest presence of God,’...it may look like just sitting there awhile longer with your hands open, just lingering quietly. It may look like crying. That’s wonderful! Don't back away from crying in order to 'keep it together'; tears are a beautiful (but not mandatory) part of being with Jesus. It may look like saying, “Thank You, thank You, thank You.” You may want to kneel. You may want to sing a song worshipping Jesus (i.e. ‘What a beautiful name it is’ or ‘Jesus we love You, oh how we love You, You are the One our hearts adore’, etc).
Loosely adapted from Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster