Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Parenting and Prayer...

Are you a parent? Do you find it impossible to juggle the demands of being constantly available to a young child and being available to God? Matt Stone on ekstasis shares helpful, workable wisdom about parenting and meditation or prayer... check it out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas break...

I'm taking a break for Christmas. But if you're looking for a late gift, why not buy ethical clothing? The Freedom Clothing Project, a not-for-profit co-operative works with
suppliers in Beit Jala in the occupied West Bank producing what are thought to be the first t-shirts in the country with a ‘Made in the West Bank and Gaza’ label. Freedom Clothing Project

Sunday, December 18, 2005

inspirational artwork

On my recent journey to Lindisfarne Holy Island off the coast of Northumbria I visited 'Lindisfarne Scriptorium', where artist Mary Fleeson creates inspirational illuminated calligraphy and artwork; I quote, 'offering an art form which draws the viewer into an experience of prayer, meditation and blessing'. Her book 'Life Journey' combines beautiful images with inspiring reflections in the Celtic tradition. Her online gallery is worth a visit.

the secret place...

'When you pray, go into your private room and pray to your Father who is there in the secret place.' Jesus the Mystic (Matthew 6:5)
see the
World Community For Christian Meditation podcasts

Sunday, December 11, 2005

the memory of god

Rowan William recently said that we are 'held in the memory of God; tell those who are forgotten that God remembers them'. A prayer cord helps you remember God and that God remembers you. His book on the spirituality of the desert fathers and mothers (from which Jesus Prayer spirituality came) is Silence and Honey Cakes: The Wisdom of the Desert
a prayer: "Lord you never forget me, even though I often forget: I am your project."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

pearls of life now in the UK

The Pearls of Life are now available in the UK at SPCK bookshops price £6.99 and they come with a little leaflet. I'd really like to see an English translation of Martin Lonnebo's book about the Pearls. Share your experience of using the Pearls in a comment? Andrew

Thursday, December 01, 2005

in the Silence...

Mother Teresa, when asked by an interviewer what she said to God when she prayed, answered: “I don’t say anything. I just listen.” When the interviewer asked what she heard God say, Mother Teresa replied: “He doesn’t say anything. He just listens. And if you can’t understand that, I can’t explain it to you.”
This is the “Prayer of Quiet” – a listening beyond words. In that silence we know and are known by God (Francis MacNutt)

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Jesus Prayer and Orthodoxy - again...

A while back I commented that there are no links to Orthodox teaching on the Jesus Prayer on this site. Well I'm glad to say that 'an orthodox' has posted some helpful links:
Orthodox Church in America on the Jesus Prayer
On the Prayer Rope
On practising the Jesus Prayer
St. Theophan the Recluse on Prayer

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Jesus Prayer and repetition...

Is using the Jesus Prayer 'heaping up empty phrases'? When Jesus' followers asked him to teach them to pray, Jesus said: 'When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.' (Matthew 6:7)

I thought it might be helpful to explore this issue and so I asked Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward, joint author of Praying the Jesus Prayer Together for his comment and he kindly replied:

If you look up 'vain repetion' in its context in Jesus' teaching you will see that it is associated with 'heaping up phrases' and wanting to be heard not by God, but by other people, to impress them!

The Pharisee in the Temple was uttering vain repetition in this sense, Jesus's sense.  The Tax Collector 'repeated' one sentence over and over 'God be merciful to me, a sinner' and daren't even lift up his head to God.  Jesus comments, 'I tell you this man went home justified rather than the other'. 

Short prayer pierces heaven and if it is repeated out of an overwhelmed heart, if it carries all the weight of an inexpressible prayer as praying in tongues can also do. It is like the short phrases that we utter and repeat when we feel more than we can ever say, be it 'Thank you, oh thank you!' or 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry' which convey our heart's fullest feeling which can be beyond all words. 

The Jesus Prayer helps us to concentrate our thoughts beyond any words and to express our gratitude, love and longing all at once.  And the name repeated itself, the name above all names, miraculously invokes the presence and love of the One named.

Jesus' teaching about prayer has so much to do with the sincere desire of the heart, and if we want to want to have a sincere love for Him, however distracted we are and however faint and feeble our longing, He will reach out and lift us up to Himself.

The Jesus prayer then becomes a way into 'hesychia', stillness in the presence of the one 'Lord Jesus Christ' who leads us to the Father, 'Son of God' and through whom in the power of the Spirit the love of God is poured out into our hearts! 'Have mercy upon us!' even if we feel or know ourselves to be unworthy - that love enfolds us utterly - 'Have mercy upon me, a sinner.'

The prayer of longing to long more fully, like the Tax Collector's or blind Bartimaeus's prayer can never be in vain!  Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift to us in Jesus Christ our Lord!
Love and Prayers  +Simon

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

New Scientist on Meditation

Steve Wynkoop has noticed an article reporting that scientists have found meditation does more than help us feel good and calm down - it helps us perform better and alters the structure of the brain: see New Scientist article. Intrigued, I noticed an earlier article suggesting that practising spiritual meditation helps people relax more and be better able to withstand pain than people performing secular meditation: see article. I've found I get restless and unsettled if I don't pray or meditate for a while - I wonder if any of my readers have noticed health and wellbeing improvements as a result of prayer and meditation? Andrew

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

the seamless garment of silence...

From Celtic Daily Prayer comes this:
'There is a contemplative
in all of us,
almost strangled
but still alive,
who craves the quiet
enjoyment of the Now,
and longs to touch
the seamless
of silence
makes us whole.

(Alan P. Tory)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Jesus Prayer and Orthodoxy

While away on Lindisfarne I met a group of Orthodox pilgrims - it dawned on me that there aren't any links or references to the Jesus Prayer on this site relating to the Orthodox church - what an omission! Do you know a good Orthodox site with accessible teaching on the Jesus Prayer I could link to? Let me know in a Comment. Andrew

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Poll: prayer beads/ropes/cords

Around 500 people visit anamchara each month - I thought it would be interesting to find out how many of you are new to the concept of prayer beads/prayer ropes as an aid to prayer and meditation? Maybe like me, you already use one? Please vote in the new Sidebar Poll (you also might be interested to see the results so far - they pop up after your vote...) I look forward to hearing from you: Andrew

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Back from a thin place...

In truth, I found it hard to relax on this trip - what have I learned from that? I think maybe it's about living a lifestyle of peace and sensible relaxation at home and not saving up all those expectations for a time away - I'm determined to experiment with ways of living a more balanced life now at home. Is that something we all struggle with? The BBC TV programme:

showed that the monastic lifestyle was dramatically able to meet the needs of contemporary people - there were lasting lifestyle and faith changes. Here are five tips for Meditation from Worth Abbey - to help you find a place of sanctuary in the day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Thin place...

Old Celtic Christians believed in 'thin places' - where the gap between earth and heaven is 'thin'. I'm off to Holy Island - Lindisfarne, one such place. In The Way of a Pilgrim the Pilgrim travels on a sacred journey or quest in search of wisdom; how to pray continually using the Jesus Prayer. What will I have discovered on my return from this pilgrimage I wonder? Picture courtesy of Terry - Celtic music maker

Saturday, October 22, 2005

the beauty of colour

There's something about the beauty of the colours and the feel of the woven cord on prayer cords - a friend has just asked me to make her one in Irish Spring - a mix of green colours. Having something to hold and use that's a thing of beauty itself, is inspiring - like nature.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pearls of Life and the Lord's Prayer...

Not long ago I sent for a set of 'Pearls of Life' from Sweden by Martin Lonnebo - I wear them on my wrist and I've been following his Meditations for each pearl - but recently I've been more and more convinced that Jesus taught his followers the 'Lord's Prayer' or 'Our Father', as a pattern for them in response to their question; 'Teach us to pray' (they didn't ask 'teach us a prayer' did they?) - it seems that the Church largely promotes his teaching as just a prayer rather than the holistic way of praying Jesus intended; how short we're being sold!

Then I came across Andii Bowsher's blog 'anamchairde' on the Paternoster Rosary by happy coincidence - and now I notice that Lonnebo has written about the connection between the Pearls of Life and the Lord's (way of) Prayer - see the July Word of the Month on the first pearl of Love.

Worship 'Trick'

Worship 'Trick' No. 30 from Jonny Baker is about making Jesus Prayer Ropes. Read it here: Jonny Baker's Worship Trick No. 30

Depression and Mental Health

I wonder if anyone has any experience of this type of prayer helping them with mental health issues or depression? Maybe meditation helps deal with root causes rather than symptoms like anti-depressants, although I'm not denying medication may be helpful for a time.

Physical focus for prayer...

I use the Prayer cord to help me focus. It's physical - the feel of the knots in my hand help my mind not to wander. You don't have to say a lot of stuff; there's a stilling quality about doing it - it's about being in the presence of God in stillness.

I start off with the Cross. I normally say the Lord's Prayer, then I say either 'Lord have mercy' or 'Lord have mercy on me, a sinner'. On each knot I pray for a friend or family member. In the gaps between knots I say 'Lord have mercy'. I'm just holding the person in my hand before God asking God to remember them. I know that God takes over the burden even if I don't stop being concerned about them. CHANDY

Using the beads - giving names to God

I find the Prayer Cord comforting. It's a physical reminder of my close relationship with God every day, so I keep it with me all the time. I use it to pray for my friends or any big issues. When I'm really stressed I use the beads and just give people's names to God - and if they've a very big problem then they get lots of beads! I believe God drops people's names into my head. In my moments of greatest stress it was the only thing that gave me any peace. CAROLE