October 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.

Saying for the month

‘The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life’. John 4:14 (NRSV)

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 - a preparation for listening with the mind:

Water is a powerful symbol that runs through the whole Bible, from Genesis when the Spirit hovers over the face of the waters to Revelation with the vision of the water of life flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb who is the fountain of living water.

In this passage in John, Jesus is travelling with his disciples from Judea to Galilee and takes the shorter route that entails going through Samaria, a route Jews would not normally use. Jesus sits resting at Jacob’s well near Sycar, while the disciples go into the village for food.  A woman comes to the well at the 6th hour when the sun is at its highest, because she is an outcast and doesn’t want to be seen.  Jesus asks her for a drink of water for he is thirsty.   She is astonished that he, obviously a Jew, is speaking to her, a Samaritan: ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for water from me, a woman of Samaria?’, she asks him.    

He then tells her that he can give her living water.  She takes him literally and in confusion asks for this living water, thinking of the running water of a stream. In response Jesus says to her: ‘Everyone that drinks of this water will thirst again, but he who drinks of the water I give will never thirst again.  For the water that I will give will become in them a spring of living water gushing up to eternal life’.

In his encounter with this woman, Jesus sits down with her and gently breaks down the barriers she has put up.  Only he can know the secrets of her heart.   Slowly he brings her to face the truth of her situation. She is an outcast, living with a man whom she has not married and she has also had 5 husbands.  But to her astonishment, Jesus seems to know all about her and she is amazed that he is speaking to her.    He is bringing her from sin and brokenness to a new and transformed life and the scales at last fall from her eyes.  She is now able to face herself without feeling condemned. 

She runs in joy to tell her village of this extraordinary encounter and that she has met with the Messiah.

Let us put ourselves in the shoes of the Samaritan woman.  Perhaps we can imagine the scene; the well near Sycar, the heat of the surrounding desert, dry and arid.   Feel the hot sun and the dust in your shoes. Jesus is sitting beside her at the well, and talking to this Samaritan Woman, gently removing the barriers between them. He sees into her heart without judgement, and is healing the hurt and pain with his love and compassion.

So we now take these Words of Jesus into our minds, allowing the saying to speak to us:

The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life’

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:

It is only Christ who can give the nourishment to fill our spiritual need and thirst, as with the woman at the well.   Water in St. John’s gospel is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and also of purification and the promise of new and eternal life.   In Revelation, John the Divine sees the lamb on the throne who says: ‘To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life’. 

The Psalmist cries out that his soul thirsts for the living God: ‘As the deer longs for the water brook, so my soul longs for you O Lord, I thirst for the living God’.  

There is in most of us (although some do not realise it) a deep thirst and longing for God who is our true and spiritual home.

This fountain of living water that wells up within us is an inner spring that washes away the grit surrounding a pearl of great price that lies within the heart of each of us bringing us to wholeness and revealing our true self as with the Samaritan woman.

Imagine Jesus standing before you now or sitting beside you.  Only to him can you tell the secrets of your heart which he already knows.  He is gently leading you into his light.  Healing all the wounded places, the sorrows and hurts you have suffered.  He knows the desires of your heart and will give you the strength you need to follow him.

As the scales slowly fall from the eyes of this outcast Samaritan woman, we can let the scales fall from our eyes too, so that we too can be fed with the full nourishment that is given us by Christ.  For He is the fountain of living water and the Bread of Life.   

In St. John’s Gospel Christ says ‘If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’ (John 7:37).  

By the renewal and growth of our spiritual lives, and by drinking deeply of the water of life, we can help alleviate the thirst of others by prayer and through our lives and actions: a life lived in love and harmony and in accordance with God’s eternal plan. 

Today we also thirst, not only for ourselves, but for justice and peace in the world we live in. We long for the end of suffering and war and famine where millions are dying of starvation and for the return of moral values, of a time where people can live peaceably side by side.  We long too for those who are spiritually empty to know Christ, the fountain of life who alone can fill them with living water.

In the silence and stillness of contemplation we are letting go of the transient things of the world and entering the silent depths of God, the fountain of life, the spring of living water that wells up to eternal life. So we now let these Words of Christ sink deeply into our heart.

‘The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life’.

A time is now kept for silence of the heart – perhaps between 5 and 15 minutes.

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.

The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life’

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 …. ‘The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life’.  You can shorten this to ‘The water I give will become a spring of … eternal life’.  

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.

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.