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November 2020


A Contemplative Exercise for November


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

   "This is my resting place; here will I make my home for ever, for such is my desire" 

     Psalm 132.14

(This Saying follows on from our Saying for October when we prayed with words from Exodus 25: "Make me a sanctuary ... according to the design I shall show you". We try to build an inner space within which God can dwell; now we seek to allow Him fully to inhabit that space....)


To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; become aware of the sounds around you and put them aside; offer 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:

 "This is my resting place; here will I make my home for ever, for such is my desire" 

 Psalm 132 is one of six special Psalms relating to the King.  They are associated with ceremonies of the Jewish New Year Festival.  It seems that the Judaean King was anointed afresh in the Temple using ancient rituals.  He in turn renews his commitment to the ideals of Israelite life – mercy, justice and truth.

On the day there is a great procession from the Western Hill of the Holy City.  Great numbers of people are present, among them the King.  At the centre of the procession priests in their robes carry the Ark.  The Ark is basically a box, beautifully inlaid with gold and in the box are the tablets of stone with the law engraved on them and the box may well have carried other sacred things such as the rod of Aaron.

This special New Year ceremony reminds people not only of the importance of the King, but also that God is King.  The Ark symbolised above all the presence of God the King.  Wherever the Ark is, there is the real presence and power of God.

The procession sets off.  The Ark is right there in the centre of it all and as they approach the Temple a great cry goes up (recorded in verse 8): Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place.

The King enters the Inner Court and is there enthroned and anointed – just as Solomon had been years before.

There were official prophets whose role was to give the King and the nation a message from God.   The gist of that message as recorded in the psalm is this: I have chosen Zion.  I desire it for my dwelling place.  This is my resting place for ever; here will I make my home, for such is my desire.

The Ark, the great symbol of the presence and power of God is then returned to its place in the Temple for another year.

Can we imagine ourselves caught up in the excitement of that New Year procession?  Sense the commitment to the presence of God himself as he says through those temple prophets:

"This is my resting place for ever; here will I make my home, for such is my desire"

We may wish to shorten the sentence as we repeat it....

"This is my resting place for ever"  or   "here will I make my home"


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.

"This is my resting place for ever; here will I make my home, for such is my desire"


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

 "This is my resting place for ever; here will I make my home, for such is my desire"

So we sought to enter with our minds into the experience of the annual procession into the Temple in Jerusalem – here was the place where God’s presence was to be found more deeply than anywhere else.  It was the place where he himself wanted to be.

In 2 Corinthians 6.16 Paul asserts: We are the temple of the living God.  We therefore are God’s resting place for ever.  It is here that God will make his home.   He longs for that to be so.  He wants to make his home within us.

The word ‘temple’ is linked with the word ‘con-templ-ation’.  It is as we join in this prayer of contemplation that we allow ourselves to be the ‘temple’, to be the place in which God can rest and make himself at home.  This is the place where he can live and work and have his being.

In our contemplation, we are built into a spiritual place where God can be – and Jesus is the foundation stone of that presence.

King Solomon built his temple to the glory of God, paying special attention to the Holy of Holies where the Ark was to be kept.  Everything was overlaid with precious gold.

You and I are the temple.  Everything we are and everything we do are intended for the glory of God.

As we listen now, our most holy place will be filled with the presence of God.  We allow ourselves to be filled with the pure gold of God’s presence.

"This is my resting place for ever; here will I make my home, for such is my desire"

Again, we may wish to shorten the sentence as we repeat it....

"This is my resting place for ever"  or   "here will I make my home"


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

 

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

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

 "This is my resting place for ever; here will I make my home, for such is my desire"


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

We now use the Saying in intercession for others – bringing into God’s presence people for whom we wish to pray.

We may want to remember

… those who are seeking faith; who are finding prayer and worship difficult at a time when church services are non-existent or feel strange; the wider Church and those responsible for ministry.

… people with responsibility for government and guidance at this time; those researching vaccination and treatments for the Covid virus; leaders of the nations of the world

… individuals who are suffering from illness, especially anxiety and depression; those who feel alone and isolated

Again, we may wish to shorten the sentence as we repeat it after naming those for whom we wish to pray: for example,

Ann: God says to you:   "This is my resting place"  or  even "You are my resting place"

All you refugees and displaced persons: God says to you   "......here will I make my home"              or even "in you I will make my home"


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, until you are all in all and we are complete. Amen 

 You may wish to say the Grace together before departing.  

 

         This month's exercise was contributed by AE