March 2021

A Contemplative Exercise for March 2021

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

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.” Joshua 5:15 (GNB)

You may wish to use a shortened form of the Saying for times of contemplation, for example

“You are standing on holy ground.”

To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; you might enlist your body to help with this by adopting a receptive pose and systematically relaxing your way through your muscles or you may find it helpful to become aware of the sounds around you and then 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:

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”      

As we take this word into our minds and let it speak to us, we might consider what has been happening, what is the context of this. Joshua and the Israelites are now on the other side of the Jordan.

At this time there seems to be a pause, maybe some preparation is needed before they are trusted with something new.  Before any further progress is possible their covenant relationship with God is renewed and restored. There is now a physical sign that they belong to the true and living God; a ritual and action giving way to a sign of commitment that has perhaps been overlooked and omitted during their desert journeying? Also, God’s provision changes; the manna dries up and produce from the country is available. (see verses 1-12 of chapter 5)

It is at the conclusion of this time of pause, healing and re-commitment that we have an abrupt and sudden visitation. God is now present and that demands some further action from us, as in our word:

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”      

This awesome encounter may be a pre-incarnational appearance of Jesus. Possibly it is Jesus, as the commander of the Lord’s army, who is meeting Joshua. (Verses 13 to 15 give us more detail of that encounter and you may wish to eavesdrop on that interaction and note Joshua’s response).

 We take this word into our minds, perhaps visualising this encounter, there may be things for us to consider (maybe one of these?):

-         The Courage and lack of Compromise as Joshua Challenged this stranger. He confronted him and asked, “Whose side are you on, are you for the Lord and his people or against them?”

-         Joshua was an experienced solider, well trained for leadership by Moses. A salutary reminder here though may be that he is second in command. It is the Lord Jesus, who is Commander of the Lord’s Army. Joshua may have known the loneliness of being in a leadership position and he is one of just two of the fore-runner spies who bring back a confident and hopeful message. However, Jesus has come as Commander. Joshua is not alone. Actually, Joshua does not go into battle as commander. He goes as number two, he is second-in-command, he follows. As we step on to holy ground, taking off our sandals, we might recognise that Jesus is the Commander of the Lord’s army and that he is here? Trying to be commander ourselves might just lead us toward defeat and failure, we need our commander so much as without him we can do nothing. We are grafted into him as the vine, our strength comes from him, it is he who wields the sword. Whatever our role or position: parent, family leader, business leader, church leader or contributor, homegroup member – we might remember that our absolute highest rank is never above second in command?

-         Action is needed from us as we encounter our Lord. Taking off sandals also occurs in Exodus 3 as Moses encounters the Divine I AM. It isn’t a new idea that some symbol and action of respect is appropriate when we encounter God. Thinking it through, taking the word in to our minds, is there any preparation or action that is needed for our renewal and transformation, any re-commitment? With our dry, desert journeying recently have we overlooked and forgotten any symbolic actions or internal actions? Anything to put right, to restore, as a sign of a new beginning?  In Ruth we find sandals exchanged as a symbol of promise, contract, covenant. So, maybe we take off our sandals and hand one over as we enter a newly committed convenant

“I am here as the commander of the Lord’s army…Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”

We ponder, allow the saying to speak to us as we take the word into our minds:

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”  


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.

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”  


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

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”

Now we take this word into our heart and allow it to speak in us. We allow this saying and this encounter to go deeper; to penetrate our heart and affect our emotions.

Even though Joshua is now bare-footed, without his sandals, we might just step into his shoes and contemplate his action and response?

This is an encounter with the holiness of the Divine. Joshua is reminded that he is standing on holy ground and action is requested:

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”

Joshua’s response though goes far beyond an external action of respect. His response is much deeper, from the heart. We find that he falls face down in worship, in reverence.  And, in this respectful, worshipful position he is also receptive as well as responsive. He also recognises his own status and position as servant when encountering his LORD, the commander of the Angel Armies. He is ready to listen and asks, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”, What orders?”

 We take this word into our hearts …

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”

… perhaps we also will have a private meeting with our commander? Might we bow in worship, submit to our commander Lord, be ready to listen and wait for his orders and directions?

We may consider that:

-         humble worship precedes a

-         holy walk and only then might we move to

-         spiritual, heavenly warfare

as we see played out in the Israelites’ pause and preparation, holy ground encounter and only then moving forward.

Might this word invite us and draw us into a face-to-face encounter with our LORD, as we respond with our respect and allegiance and take this word into our hearts:

We rest in God and take the saying into our hearts:

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”   


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

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

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


“I am here as the commander of the Lord’s army…Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”    

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

“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”   

You may wish to use a shortened form, for intercession or as a Watchword in days and weeks to come:

“…you are standing on holy ground…”   

With this word in mind we can now bring the meaning alive not only for ourselves, but also most importantly for the lives of others, in our intercessions.

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       ……       “Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”   


There may be many situations where we would wish God’s presence to be more obvious, where his Holiness and glory might prompt folk to respond in awe and reverence.

God’s holy presence going ahead may be so very helpful in many difficult situations, circumstances, for individuals … and we might also pray, as Joshua experienced, that Jesus as the Commander of the army of the Lord would be present and be in charge.

We might speak out our word, praying it through us to situations and individuals such as:

-         Worldwide suffering, a breakthrough

-         Governments’ and Health departments’ responses

-         A restoration of health and wholeness

-         A continuing interest and resurgence in things spiritual through online offerings

and leading to a deeper re-commitment with outward and internal signs.

-         Our church and clergy as they follow their Commander closely

So we pray this word outwards, recognise Jesus as commander and that he is here and that such holy ground demands a response. We pray out this word, spoken through us:

“I am here as the commander of the Lord’s army…Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”   


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.  

If your group finds visual images helpful you might like to share this link with them 

                                                               This month's exercise was contributed by DK