September 2017

A Contemplative Exercise for September 2017

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

"My people …… I AM understanding”            (Isaiah 40-55, Proverbs 8.14 from AV)

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

 Say this introductory invitation to prayer, keeping 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:

 September's saying is a composite taken from an underlying theme in the second section of the book of Isaiah, also known as Second Isaiah (ch 40-55), and a verse from Proverbs (8.14).  

 From Isaiah, we hear God's message of encouragement to His people. After some years living through the dark days of exile in Babylon the people have been released to return home. The years of exile have at times been desolate, but eventually they established a life for themselves. Now to be released and return home they are anxious. What should kind of future would await them? What should they expect?

 As we heard in the saying for last month, throughout 2nd Isaiah God reminds the people not to keep looking back with nostalgia to the traditions of their pre-exilic past, or, whatever its shortcomings, to the stability they have grown used to in more recent years in Babylon. Isaiah’s message is twofold. The people are reminded of God's righteousness judgement but above all, of His love and faithfulness. We hear that God longs to give them forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration, and promises that they are “precious in God’s sight” . They are repeatedly called “MY people”……. and assured that their “names are written on the palms of God’s hands”.

 In this month’s saying, the encouragement we hear in Isaiah reminding the people that they are God’s (MY) people and calling them home, is then deepened using the words from Proverbs “I AM understanding” (8.14)

 Much of the text of Proverbs is devoted to the importance of attaining Wisdom, an attribute of God. Some of the text is homely in the form of familiar, pithy couplets such as ‘Look before you leap”, “he who hesitates is lost” etc but other sections draw on a much older, deeper body of writing which is known as the Wisdom Literature. From Proverbs we understand this to be an aspect of Divine Wisdom – it is from God. In Proverbs Divine Wisdom is often personified as a woman who both seeks Wisdom and realises its supreme importance, and is Wisdom ie is the very essence of the divine, God-self.

 In the words from Pr 8.14, we are reminded that as our creator, God totally and completely “understands” human kind. Nothing of our nature is unknown to God. We are (as Isaiah puts it) precious in God’s sight and deeply loved and valued. Not only that, but looking at it from a slightly different perspective, God also faithfully “stands under us” to protect us from falling, and to keep us from harm.

 We are truly God’s people, deeply loved, completely understood and faithfully held in God’s love.

 "My people …… I AM understanding” 

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.

            “My people….. I AM Understanding”.


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

Often we hear in the news that many people live lives of lonely and quiet desperation. Even surrounded with people who may even be family or friends, they feel empty and alone. So many people in this country and across the world are vulnerable and imprisoned by fear, poverty, physical or mental illness or feelings of emotional inadequacy. Far too frequently, life is a desperate and joyless existence, an exile with little or no hope of release.

Yet, even into the desperation of these places of darkness, God speaks, saying, “MY people….. I AM understanding”. Even when the world turns away and closes its heart and mind, God “understands and stands under” tenderly holding and protecting the vulnerable and broken.

 In the second period of silence we rest in the knowledge that all are God’s people, loved and valued

“MY People…. I AM understanding”

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

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

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

“MY People…. I AM understanding”


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

 What will these words mean for our troubled world- for friends who feel lost or confused or situations in the world for whom these words seem very apt?

Speak aloud the name or situation for whom the prayer is offered; after a moment of silence, repeat the saying - let the words flow through you, and the members of the group, to the person/people for whom you pray.

 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 JCH