February 2024

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: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’ John 14.6 (GN).

In your time of contemplation, you may like to shorten this to ‘I am the Way’.

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:

‘I am the way, the truth and the life’.

The context of this saying in St John’s Gospel, chapter 13 is the last supper and the events that accompanied it. Jesus is telling the disciples that He will be leaving them, but that they will follow Him. The response from Thomas is ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?’.

Thomas is often called ‘doubting Thomas’ because of his questioning of the resurrection of Christ. Here perhaps he was not so much doubting as desperate, despairing, confused; wanting to get to the bottom of all that was happening. Sometimes he is known as ‘didymus’, the twin, though exactly whose twin is not known.  He is associated with India, known as the apostle of the East, as he reputedly took Christianity to the south and east of the boundaries of the Roman empire round about AD 50. Some of the best known images of Thomas are in medieval and Renaissance art: he was said to have witnessed the assumption of the Virgin Mary, and in an inversion of the story of Thomas' doubts, the other apostles are sceptical of his story until they see the empty tomb and the girdle. So there are some wonderful depictions of the Virgin in heaven, dropping a girdle down to an earthly Thomas.

In this first silence we try and use our minds to deepen our understanding of the Saying we are using for February, and one way that we can do this is to try and imagine what it was like to hear the words for the first time: to be there with Thomas, to imagine him, his personality, his impatience, his wanting instant results perhaps.  Often that use of our imagination can be vividly illuminating.

So try and imagine this scene: rather like the sultry and oppressive closeness before a thunderstorm, there is probably a bit of an ‘atmosphere’ as the disciples gather together on that evening before Passover.  Thomas, like his friends around him, was troubled about Christ’s impending betrayal by an unknown hand; he was upset and anxious about Jesus leaving them; confused by Jesus’ apparent assumption that they know what is going on: ‘you know the way where I am going’.  Jesus himself, John writes, was ‘troubled in spirit’.  The disciples may have sensed that and it could in turn have made them uneasy and anxious.

‘We do not know where you are going – how can we know the way?’, asked Thomas.  Perhaps he was beginning to get irritated and resentful, as we often do when we don’t understand something or we can’t manage to do something.  We can imagine that everyone was beginning to feel an uneasy premonition that something was going to happen over which they had no control: ‘We do not know where you are going – how can we know the way?’.

Now imagine Christ replying: what was His tone of voice?  Was He animated or serene?  Did He seem confident, or was He also trying to explain things to Himself as He speaks at length to the disciples in the two or three chapters that follow?  ‘I am the way, the truth and the life”, He declares.  Try and imagine the effect these words have on their hearers as they seek to make sense of all that seems to be happening around them: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’.

We take this Saying into our minds, allowing the saying to speak to us:

'I am the way, the truth, and the 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:

‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’.

You will often find the words ‘I AM’ written in capitals, used as another name for the Supreme Reality, the One who Is The All and the Source of All …  There is a whole theology behind them which bears exploration.

In St. John’s Gospel, these ‘I am’ sayings often act as punctuation marks.  In the other gospels, the person of Jesus is almost self-effacing, mysteriously anonymous: here however is a vivid painting of the life of Jesus, bringing out and highlighting the texture and underlying meaning of His teachings:

I am the good shepherd

I am the true vine

I am the door

I am the resurrection and the life

I am the bread of life

I am the light of the world


I am the way, the truth and the life.

Where are we going?  We are going, taken by Jesus, to the Father.  And Christ doesn’t tell us about the way; He is the way.  He tells us that not only is He the way, the road – He is also the truth – the route map, with the cross as the compass pointing us in the right direction.  Being a Christian is to be in receipt of Grace, of Christ’s promise to come back and take us to be with Him.  Unlike the man in the joke who, when asked for directions, said: ‘If I was going there, I wouldn’t start from here’, Jesus comes to where we are and takes us with Him.

He is the road – we should walk him.  He is the truth – we should know him.  He is the life – we should live him.  All that God wants to be to us and to give to us is made manifest and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  So as we walk him, know him and live him, by this means we come to true knowledge of God.

These ‘I am’ sayings reveal the truth about the God we worship and the Lord that we follow.  They are like mini parables, like an ikon in an orthodox shrine, glowing with luminescent colour, drawing our eyes, our imagination, our devotion.  In our second silence we try to engage with our saying, not intellectually but prayerfully, with our hearts, holding the Saying as if it were a lovely smooth stone, cradling it tenderly so that the truth it contains can enter into us, taking us on our journey towards oneness with God.

‘I am the way, the truth and the life’: this Saying is a New Year starter pack as we try and draw nearer to God this year in our three-fold way of prayer:

God is Truth: that which really is; the mind or thinking part of our prayer.

Jesus is the Way: that which we follow and the way by which (via experience and understanding) we arrive at Truth; the heart of our prayer.

The Spirit is Life: the energy which enables us not only to follow the Way but to gather others to us on the journey; the intercessionary part of our prayer.

Now we take this Word into our hearts, as we allow Jesus’ words to speak in us, to touch us and work more deeply upon our lives, listening as He says to us: ‘I am the way, the truth and the 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.

‘I am the way, the truth and the 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 … “I am the way, the truth and the life”’, or ‘Alison and your family … “I am the way”’.

As we allow the word to speak through us we might direct Jesus’ word towards those people and situations where there is need of direction and support, of reassurance and encouragement.

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.