Sermon- Quiet Your Soul (Psalm 131)

Sermon Series Seeking God 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Seeking God
Message 3 of 6: Quiet Your Soul
Scripture: Psalm 131
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 1/26/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire worship service, including the message.

If your brain was an animal, what would it be?
There are times when my brain resembles an animal more than a human.

  • A monkey brain- reacting rather than responding to the new or unexpected
  • A hamster on a wheel brain in constant motion- thinking, planning, working and it won’t stop
  • A squirrel brain- distracted, chasing this thought or feeling then chasing another one
  • A dog brain- grabbing hold of an idea or feeling (like resentment) and it won’t let go

What do we long for? We long for peace of mind.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)

We long peace of mind, for quietness.
Even something deeper than that, rest for our souls.
The good news is we can have it no matter the season or circumstance.

Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Let’s hear the testimony of Ruth Haley Barton on how she found rest for her soul. Ruth Haley Barton, author of Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence and the book Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation.

I didn’t have a jar of river water, but Pam was kind enough to loan me her snowglobe. This snowglobe settles in about 10 seconds. In practicing solitude and silence I don’t settle this quickly. It’s a new practice for me. I’m learning.

What I do know is that I need it. The idea that we can be all jumbled up inside and settle into a quietness of the soul is a promise and gift of God. These practices are ancient. They are not new nor new age. We’ve just forgotten them or never been taught them.

Rest for our souls- The Christian Practice of Solitude and Silence. Some refer to it as Christian Contemplation, Contemplative Prayer, or Christian Meditation. I like the word stillness. It sounds more approachable.

What is it? We stop. We stop making demands on God. We stop making demands on ourselves. We leave productivity and accomplishment behind for a time. It’s being rather than doing.

We stop and spend time with God. God is God. God is present and waiting. I belong to God.

Psalm 131- a song of quiet trust. A song of ascents used as folks made their way up the mountain range between Jericho and Jerusalem. They were heading to Jerusalem for worship at the Temple. A song of David, the shepherd king, the man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22)

Psalm 131, NRSV
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.

The Psalm is directed to God, as is the Christian practice of Solitude, Silence, and Stillness. Notice how striving and achieving are left behind- my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not too high. I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 

There is humility. There is dependence, as a child.

We had a preschool party recently. It was baby palooza, so many babies. One of the moms asked if I wanted to hold her baby and I said, “YES!” I had the joy of holding a three-month-old baby Elias, a nugget of love. He came to me and nestled in.

My soul is calmed and quieted like a weaned child with its mother. 

The Christian practice of Solitude, Silence, and Stillness is very different than the practice of Eastern Meditation. In our practice, we are seeking God and stopping. In Eastern practice, I am doing. I am striving for self.  All I need is within me. I can heal myself. I can attain a higher state of consciousness. I empty my mind. I control my breathing. I control my emotions. I control myself. (notice all the I’s)

How to Practice Stillness. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands palms up on your lap. This is a posture of openness and receiving. Set a timer for 5-20 minutes. Take a deep breath. Gaze on God and allow God to gaze on you. As your mind is distracted, center back on gazing at God.

Distracted, by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Sometimes you are distracted by your prayers,
your desires pulling so many ways
like chores, the must, the ought,
the please oh please,
the wouldn’t it be better if.

Forget your prayers
and pay attention to the Beloved,
sit without purpose,
simply gaze,
and be without excuse
beheld.

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Sermon- Quiet Your Soul © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Recommended Resource- Pray As You Go

Followers of Jesus nurture their relationship with God by “doing devotions.” We head to the bookstore, or maybe even our local church, to pick up a guide to read on a daily basis. It’s a great way to build a habit of spending time with God and very helpful for stretching us in our understanding of God’s character and Word.

Here’s where it can be problematic:

  • We’re always reading about someone else’s encounter with God in place of having encounters ourselves. We stay at a distance from God.
  • Our devotions become knowledge-driven or emotion-driven rather than Scripture-driven and encounter-driven. We may find what we read interesting, we may be stirred by the story, but are we receiving it as a call to apply spiritual truth to our life?
  • Our prayer life stays shallow if we only use the prayers of others and never practice praying ourselves.
  • We can become forever dependent on an “expert” rather than trusting God wants to speak to us right now, at whatever point we are in our journey of faith.

So do we dump the devotional books/guides and just read the Scripture? Well… Reading Scripture can be a powerful daily devotion option, especially when you use one of these approaches to give you some structure. “Just me and my Bible” can also be intimidating, confusing, and lonely.

It’s no wonder we struggle.

For many of us, we need something in between. We want to encounter God in a transforming way through the Scriptures, but we also need some guidance. I found this in between, this sweet spot of devotional practice, through a resource called Pray as You Go. 

pray as you goPray As You Go is an audio and written prayer practice offered six days per week via a free website and app by Jesuit Media Initiatives. It is helpful for both Catholics and Protestants because it’s so Scripture driven.

  • Each session begins with a bell or chime followed by music to help you settle into a prayerful frame of mind
  • A Scripture is read
  • Reflection questions based on the Scripture are offered with time for you to respond by simply talking or listening to God
  • The Scripture is read again followed by a closing blessing

The aim of Pray as You Go is to help you to:

  • become more aware of God’s presence in your life
  • listen to and reflect on God’s Word
  • grow in your relationship with God

How I find Pray as You Go helpful 

  • Its peaceful meditative tone is a very different tone than my loud, full, rushed day. I need this time of stillness and contemplation.
  • The questions appeal to my imagination. They open me to explore the Scripture, to listen deeply, to engage it for myself. It is an experience. The questions can also challenge me to look at a passage in a new or deeper way.
  • The open-ended questions help me apply what I’m hearing
  • I feel connected to a community of believers rather than by myself. I especially like the music selections from around the world.
  • It uses texts throughout the Bible so I don’t just read my favorite passages
  • I like to settle into a comfortable chair when I use Pray as You Go. Others use it during their morning commute, on a break during the work day, while out for a walk, etc.
  • After the 10-13 minute devotion, I’m motivated to continue praying or journaling

I’d love to hear from you! 

  • Give Pray as You Go a try. How was the experience?
  • What is your current devotional practice? How is it helpful to you?
  • How have your devotional practices changed as you’ve matured in faith?

May the Lord bless you and bring strength and transformation into your life through your devotional practices. – Lisa <><

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Recommendation- Pray As You Go © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Psalm 1 for Prayer Beads

Anglican-Prayer-Beads

Anglican Prayer Beads (sometimes known as Protestant Prayer Beads or Christian Prayer Beads) are a relatively new form of prayer, blending the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The thirty-three bead design was created by the Rev. Lynn Bauman in the mid-1980s, through the prayerful exploration and discovery of a contemplative prayer group.

Like other prayer bead practices, the rhythm and repetition of the prayers promote a peaceful stillness before a time of silence as we rest in God and/or a time of silence as we listen for God.

prayerbeaddiagramThere are no set prayer patterns for Anglican Prayer Beads. I took that as freedom to compile one of my own. It’s based on a profound portion of the Scriptures, Psalm 1. An added bonus of this particular pattern… it helps you memorize the psalm.

Begin with the cross and invitatory bead. Pray around the circle of cruciform beads and week beads three times in an unhurried manner then exit with the closing prayers for the invitatory bead and cross.

Cross
In the name of God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Invitatory Bead
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Cruciform Beads
Save us. Heal us. Strengthen us to serve.
or
Give us eyes to see. Ears to hear. Feet to follow faithfully.

The Weeks
The numbers are to help you move through the seven beads
They are not verse numbers.
1. Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2. but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.
3. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season,
4. and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
5. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
6. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
7. for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Invitatory Bead
The Lord’s Prayer

Cross
Hallelujah! Bless the Lord! Thanks be to God!

Click here for more on the symbolism, use, and several other prayer patterns to use with Anglican Prayer Beads. Click here for even more prayer bead patterns or consider making one of your own like I did. (If you do, post it below!)

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Psalm 1 for Prayer Beads © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Great Commandment for Prayer Beads

Anglican-Prayer-Beads

Anglican Prayer Beads (sometimes known as Protestant Prayer Beads or Christian Prayer Beads) are a relatively new form of prayer, blending the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The thirty-three bead design was created by the Rev. Lynn Bauman in the mid-1980s, through the prayerful exploration and discovery of a contemplative prayer group.

Like other prayer bead practices, the rhythm and repetition of the prayers promote a peaceful stillness before a time of silence as we rest in God and/or a time of silence as we listen for God.

prayerbeaddiagramThere are no set prayer patterns for Anglican Prayer Beads. I took that as freedom to compile some of my own. This one is based on a prayer from the Walk to Emmaus Worship Booklet for Pilgrims. The prayer is based on Jesus’ summary of the commandments, what is often referred to as The Great Commandment. (Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:30-31).

Begin with the cross and invitatory bead. Pray around the circle of cruciform beads and week beads three times in an unhurried manner then exit with the closing prayers for the invitatory bead and cross.

Cross
In the name of God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Invitatory Bead
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Cruciform Beads
A different portion of the original prayer is offered on each of the four cruciform beads.
1. Loving God, you love us, all of us, and ask in return that we love you with all our hearts and souls and minds. By your grace we will love and obey. Let it be so, now and forever.
2. Loving God, you love us, all of us, and ask in return that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. By your grace we will love and obey. Let it be so, now and forever.
3. Loving God, you love us, all of us, and ask in return that we forgive and not hold grudges. By your grace we will love and obey. Let it be so, now and forever.
4. Loving God, you love us, all of us, and ask in return that we take up our cross and follow you. By your grace we will love and obey. Let it be so, now and forever.

The Weeks
Save us. Heal us. Strengthen us to serve.
or
Give us eyes to see. Ears to hear. Feet to follow faithfully.

Invitatory Bead
The Lord’s Prayer

Cross
Hallelujah! Bless the Lord! Thanks be to God!

Click here for more on the symbolism, use, and several other prayer patterns to use with Anglican Prayer Beads. Click here for even more prayer bead patterns or consider making one of your own like I did. (If you do, post it below!)

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The Great Commandment for Prayer Beads compilation © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Psalm 100 for Prayer Beads

Anglican-Prayer-Beads

Anglican Prayer Beads (sometimes known as Protestant Prayer Beads or Christian Prayer Beads) are a relatively new form of prayer, blending the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The thirty-three bead design was created by the Rev. Lynn Bauman in the mid-1980s, through the prayerful exploration and discovery of a contemplative prayer group.

Like other prayer bead practices, the rhythm and repetition of the prayers promote a peaceful stillness before a time of silence as we rest in God and/or a time of silence as we listen for God.

prayerbeaddiagramThere are no set prayer patterns for Anglican Prayer Beads. I took that as freedom to compile one of my own. It’s based on one of the most beloved songs of praise in the Scriptures, Psalm 100. An added bonus of this particular pattern… it helps you memorize the psalm.

Begin with the cross and invitatory bead. Pray around the circle of cruciform beads and week beads three times in an unhurried manner then exit with the closing prayers for the invitatory bead and cross.

Cross
In the name of God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Invitatory Bead
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Cruciform Beads
Save us. Heal us. Strengthen us to serve.
or
Give us eyes to see. Ears to hear. Feet to follow faithfully.

The Weeks
The numbers are to help you move through the seven beads
They are not verse numbers.
1. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
2. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.
3. Know that the Lord is God.
4. It is he that made us, and we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
5. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.
6. Give thanks to him, bless his name.
7. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Invitatory Bead
The Lord’s Prayer

Cross
Hallelujah! Bless the Lord! Thanks be to God!

Click here for more on the symbolism, use, and several other prayer patterns to use with Anglican Prayer Beads. Click here for even more prayer bead patterns or consider making one of your own like I did. (If you do, post it below!)

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Psalm 100 for Prayer Beads © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.