Everyone I talk to says something like “I just do not know what to think.” No one does. The phrase ‘uncharted waters’ finds its way into the various press briefings when officials are pressed for details. This is an unnatural state for me, a do-er, a man who looks for solutions, who likes to fix things and people. I have struggled through anxiety, wrestled with anger, beat back the desire to just do something, anything.
Yesterday, I sat in silence, letting myself feel my powerlessness, willing to enter into brokenness, until I came to a place of repentance – for pride, for self-will, for failing to desire God wholeheartedly. I confessed my lack of trust, my desire to control my life to God, and relaxed into His grace. Once and done? I think not!
This is a kind of praying that is called ‘centering.’ In this prayer, Christ Jesus is made the focus. It is not a time for petitions or beautiful praise. It is a heart-cry, an act of adoration, a time to receive a gift of His peace. It’s like those moments when you see someone you love and you reach out in embrace, holding each other close, wordlessly, just being together.
Ah, my friend, this is a time for being with Jesus. Trying to figure out the ‘why,’ may come, but not today. Trying to find some silver lining may help at some moment, but maybe today we must be content with just being His, centered in our confession of faith, knowing that HE is present. That can be enough.
The key to this is something Americans particularly struggle to do – being submitted to the Spirit and entering into silence of the soul. Paul urges us to dismantle “every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and (to) take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV) In the story of Job, when his suffering drives him to angrily demand a confrontation with the Lord, God comes, not with explanations, but to reveal Himself in greater majesty. Job’s response is humility. He says, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” (Job 40:4, NIV)
Centering prayer helps us to re-enthrone Christ Jesus as Lord of life, our hope, our God. I return often to the words of Isaiah inviting us to holy submission. When Assyria threatened them, the people of God wanted to run off and try to find help from the armies of Egypt. The Lord called them to re-center their hope on Him! “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV) He invites us to the same kind of faith that is actively focused on Him rather than on a solution of our own making.
Waiting can be much more difficult than working!
The angst is real. The threat is not imaginary. The crisis is unlike any we have ever known. Now, there is a choice about how to live. We can attempt to control it all and find ourselves full of frustration. We can look endlessly at the challenges trying to rationally explain them and find ourselves battered by doubts. We can trust someone official and when their response proves inadequate will be overcome with panic and/or anger. Or, we can enter into His Presence – centered on Christ! The Spirit is inviting us to a new and deeper spirituality, beyond the comfort of our religion.
- Engage your whole person in this kind of praying.
- Sit quietly.
- Place your hands open, palms up, in front of you.
- Draw your breath in slowly.
- Pause, then then breath out as you say the name of Jesus.
- Tell Him simply, “I receive your peace.”
- Stay there!
For most of us such praying, entering into His Presence, is so unnatural that we will feel foolish, or nothing at all – at first. But, He is there. It is likely that your mind will initially reject this ‘quiet’ and you will want to reach for your phone, turn on some music, just ‘do something.’ Choose Jesus! It’s simple, but it is not easy! Keep handing yourself to Him, giving the Spirit mastery as you meditate on His Word and Promise.
Here’s the word from the Word.
“O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. …
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.” (Psalm 130:2-6, NIV)
Be The Centre
Jesus, be the centre.
Be my source, be my light,
Jesus, be the centre.
Be my hope, be my song,
Be the fire in my heart,
Be the wind in these sails,
Be the reason that I live,
© 1999 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire) (Admin. by Vineyard Music UK) Michael Frye
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