Monday, June 13, 2011

Week of Guided Prayer

This week I am in Southland helping lead a Week of Guided Prayer (aka Retreat In Daily Life).

We began last night with a short Bible study of Matthew 13:44-45, the parables of the Treasure and the Pearl. I talked about how these pared parables speak of two different ways of encountering the divine: in one parable the great treasure is stumbled over, accidentally on enuexpectedly in the course of doing other, unrelated things; in the other parable the treasure is heard of, then, with diligence and skill and effort, relentlessly pursued until it is discovered. In both parables the discovery leads to a complete reorientation of life, in which all is forsaken for the sake of possessing the great treasure.

I also spoke of an alternative reading, in which the one who discovers the great treasure is not us but Jesus. What he discovers in the field, or hears the rumour of is us. He finds us and desires us so much that he sacrifices all until he possesses us.

Either reading of the parable (and of course, these being parables and all, there is no need to choose between them; you can hold both and let both in form you) will inform the process that is going to unfold during the course of the week. And as a prayer exercise, I asked participants to take a black and white line drawing of the parable of the field and to colour it in.

Colouring in is a very simple and effective way to pray. By association it pushes us back into childhood. It gives the monkey brain something to be getting on with and requires us to be focused on a simple task in the present, so it can (and often does) facilitates meditation. By examining the way we have coloured the picture, and the thoughts and feelings which were evoked in us during the process, there is more than enough material for the Holy Spirit to be given a foothold in the ensuing conversation.

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