April 2022

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 too. 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.

John 20.29: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ (RSV)

To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; you may want to relax your way through your muscles or you may find it helpful to become aware of the sounds around you and then put them aside as you 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 – the silence of the mind

John 20.29: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ 

This saying comes towards the end of the Gospel of John.  After John has painstakingly explained all he knows about the events of the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, he goes into special detail of the post resurrection appearances. Firstly, we hear about the experience of Mary Magdalene in the garden as she and friends go to try to tend to the body of Jesus already in the tomb. He then describes two separate appearances to disciples as they gather together behind locked doors.

It is into this closed, insular gathering that Jesus appears, saying to his shocked friends ‘Peace be with you’, and he goes on to show them the wounds on his hands, feet and side.

The crucial difference between the first and second appearances of Christ to the disciples was the absence of Thomas, a loyal if dour and dogged disciple who returns after the first appearance to see the elation of his friends and just needs to see with his own eyes, to see for himself, before he too can believe.

When Jesus appears for the second time he doesn’t give a rebuke to Thomas for his questioning, but an invitation to see/experience the reality of his risen body for himself.  Thomas responds by saying ‘My Lord and my God’, recognising that what he is experiencing is the true identity of Jesus as the invisible God made visible before his eyes!  They were all looking for a Messiah and they have now had it confirmed that this really is their friend Jesus who is the same yet very different.  Thomas believes and comes to a firm faith which changes the shape of his life forever.

This is the meaning then of these words of Jesus: that these disciples have believed because they have had the great gift of experiencing the risen Jesus for themselves, and that other subsequent generations would not have this same gift.  After these early appearances, the disciples who had witnessed the events in person went out and spoke to others from their own personal experience, and that must have made a huge difference to the credibility of their stories.  As those who had not seen sat and listened, they were however also caught up in this story; their lives too were touched and they too were blessed.

So, in this first silence we are invited to reflect on the experience of those first disciples who were fortunate enough to have personal, first-hand experience of the risen Jesus and maybe the responsibility that it carried to be one of the first witnesses.

John 20.29: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ 

A time is now kept for silence of the mind – perhaps between 5 and 15 minutes. The silence concludes with a short thanksgiving, and/or feel free to repeat the Saying. The first silence ends with the words: ‘Father, we thank you for the gift of your Word’.

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

John 20.29: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ 

Now we take this word into our hearts, as we allow Jesus’ words to speak in us, to let it touch us and let it work more deeply upon our lives.  A time is now kept for silence of the heart – perhaps between 5 and 15 minutes.

Many generations have passed between those first disciples witnessed in person to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem. Yet, in the same way that the early followers of Jesus were able to engage with the eye witness accounts and were also touched and empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit received at Pentecost, so people in our own time are also touched and changed.

If we were all relying only on the word of mouth passed down from generation to generation, maybe it would be harder to believe a story which seems so unlikely – Jesus resurrected, able to appear in two places at once, walking into a locked room, eating fish by the Lake.  But, we also have had the help and encouragement of the Holy Spirit poured out afresh on each generation. The same Holy Spirit which touched and empowered those first disciples and the reality of a Spirit which has also been passed onto subsequent generations, including our own!

As we begin to open our hearts to hear Jesus words spoken to each one of us, maybe we can also hear the encouragement of Jesus words that we journey in faith with the Holy Spirit by our side. The NRSV translates the Greek slightly differently and frames the saying as a journey.  This implies that we too may may also ‘come’ to a belief as a process of discernment. This helps us to see this life as a journey into a deeper belief that we can all make.  As we draw nearer in prayer and contemplation we experience the reality of the risen Jesus for ourselves and hopefully, feel increasingly secure in our faith in Jesus and know ourselves to be truly blessed.

John 20.29: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ 

The second silence ends with the words: Father, we thank you that your Word is alive and within us’.

Introduction to the time of intercession – taking God’s word outwards into the world.

John 20.29: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ 

As we pray, instances of people and situations around us may spring to mind where this secure faith seems to be fragile or lacking, where the encouragement of Jesus words may be important for them to hear and experience.  We bring these people or situations to mind speaking them aloud or holding them in the silence of our hearts.  As we allow the word to speak through us we might direct Jesus’ word towards those people and situations where there is suffering, hurt and an absence of joy and where abiding in Christ would bring comfort.

Say the name of a person or a group of people, and after a short pause, repeat the saying. For example: ‘Alison and your family … Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’.

Conclude this 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’.

The Conclusion

Feel free to use the Fellowship Prayer below 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.