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August 2018


A Contemplative Exercise for August 2018

 The following is a possible framework for the Witnessing of the Word. It can be personalised, or altered: its purpose is to serve as an example of how this Saying might be used primarily in the context of a Prayer Group, but it may be used by individuals if so wished. It is not intended to be definitive.

 In the context of a group: the periods of silence should be appropriate for your group - probably not less than 5 minutes, or more than 15 minutes.

 

Saying for the month

“I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”           Jeremiah 30.17 (NIV)

 

To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; becoming aware of the sounds around you and putting them aside; and offering this time of prayer to God.

 Say this introductory invitation to prayer, then keep a further minute or two of silence:

 "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest"  

Matthew 11.28 


 Introduction to the first silence - a preparation for listening with the mind:

               “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”

In this saying taken from Jeremiah, the theme of exile and then the return of the people is considered afresh through the metaphor of sickness and healing.

 In much of Jeremiah’s writing and specifically in the verses before our Word for this month, he speaks out to a people who have turned away from God. They have become so diseased and sick in spirit that they are almost beyond healing and sure to die. This situation is self-inflicted and brought about by disobedience and disregard of God. The people are abandoned by their previous allies who will not stand by a loser or support a people who are helpless and in danger of death, and Jeremiah words suggest that it’s no use them complaining.

However, in the verse before this Word, there is an abrupt change of direction when God, who would have abandoned the people, now becomes an advocate. God steps in and prepares to restore Israel. The promise is that it was always possible for them to be ‘re-membered’ into their original identity as the people of Yahweh. Rehabilitation, Jeremiah reminds them, will be into every aspect of their lives including to their land and fortunes. God is more than willing to restore their dignity and respect, and to heal their wounds.

Into this maelstrom of turmoil, Jeremiah bravely continues to speak God’s word:

We hear that God saying waits to be gracious and continues to try to call the people back to him. Whatever has happened, God gives a blessing of hope and flourishing and that the people will once again become God’s beloved people and God will again be their God!

“I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”

 

A time is now kept for silence of the mind - between 5 and 15 minutes


The silence concludes with a short thanksgiving, and/or repeat the Saying:

 Father, we thank you for the gift of your Word.

                     “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”

 

Introduction to the second silence - a preparation for listening with the heart:

“I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”

 In the first silence, we considered that significant suffering causes damage to individuals and communities, and leaves mental and physical scars. It also makes gratitude and joy very difficult or impossible to appreciate.

 In the first part of the exercise we have had time to reflect that in time of war and civil unrest just how desperate and abandoned people can feel, how lost and vulnerable. In so many parts of the world, people are in this same position today. The hearts and minds of their leaders are just as wicked and ill-judged, the desperation of the vulnerable is still as deep and a continued cause for prayer.  The promise of restoration and healing remains a hope which gives life and encouragement.

 With God, all things are possible, wounds can be opened up and cleansed, pain can be relieved. The blessing is that even in the most desperate of situations, physical and emotional healing and restoration is possible. However, sometimes God’s healing comes in unexpected ways and our prayer may be to recognise and respond to the voice of God who often speaks to us in the still small voice saying…..

“I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”

A time is now kept for silence of the heart - between 5 and 15 minutes


Conclude the silence with a short thanksgiving and/or by repeating the Saying:

 Father, we thank you that your Word is alive and within us.

“I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”

 

Introduction to the time of intercession – we use our will to reflect God’s word outwards.

          “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”

With this word in mind we can now bring the meaning alive not only for ourselves, but also most importantly for the lives of others, in our intercession.

In this holiday time we pray that we can be especially open to the boundless profusion and generosity of God’s love, which pours from him as light from the sun.

We can also bring before God in prayer any we know who are under strain – for example undergoing arduous treatment for cancer, with mental health problems, going through divorce and family problems

Say the name of a person or a group of people, and after a short pause, repeat the saying. For example:

Elizabeth and your family       ……       “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds” 

Conclude the time of intercession with words of thanksgiving:

Father, we thank you that your Word has gone out through us to those for whom we pray.

 

Use the Fellowship Prayer or another closing prayer to conclude your time of contemplative prayer.

Loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for all your unsearchable riches which pour forth from you as light from the sun, in boundless profusion and generosity, whether received, ignored or rejected. And now we offer to you, in so far as we are able, as an emptiness to be filled with your divine fullness, ourselves, our souls and bodies; all that we are, all that we have and all that we do. Amen

 

 You may wish to say the Grace together before departing.  

 

This month's exercise was contributed by JH