spirituality and silence

Silence and Spirituality

 We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.
– Saint Teresa of Calcutta

The fruit of Silence is prayer. The fruit of Prayer is faith. The fruit of Faith is love. The fruit of Love is service. The fruit of Service is peace.
-Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Psalm 46: 10 “Cease striving and know that I am God.”

Before you enter into silence,

I think you should know how shook up you probably are

from living in this world.

The moment you get still, you’ll notice debris of doubt and fear floating inside you.

You may panic and want to run back into your busy life,

but I pray you have the courage to be still and know

that all really is well.

And if you stick with the silence long enough,

you’ll get to watch every dark thought sink to the bottom

and transform into solid ground for Pure Light

to shine into your life

and illuminate every fiber of your being.

It’s the best thing that could ever happen to you.

But beware: the more you experience the Truth for yourself,

the more responsible you’ll be for shining it into this dark world.

Reflection
When’s the last time you quieted your mind in prayer and meditation to sense the presence of God in your life? Do you struggle to take time for silence in your life? Do you value it or are you too caught up in busyness to even know what you’re missing?

Prayer
God, please send an outpouring of Your Holy Spirit to bless everyone reading this to get a sense of Your spacious, loving, peaceful presence in their lives. Help them carve out time to connect with Your Still Small Voice in prayer and meditation, so they can truly learn to discern Your guidance for their lives.

Action Step
Before the rush of the day, try to wake up a little early to intentionally spend time with the Lord in silence. With a quick prayer, offer God your day and invite His loving presence into Your life. Whether using scripture or a favorite prayer, continue returning Your thoughts to Your desire to connect with Him. Don’t quit if you struggle with negative thoughts, stick with it and your spiritual connection will grow stronger all the time.

Shift your focus to faith

To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.
– Walt Whitman

To fully experience the joy a life of faith can offer, we must cultivate a spirit of gratitude. Life can be hard, but the truth is: God is walking with us through it all, whether our hearts are open enough to appreciate His works and wonders or not.

Personally, I’ve been blessed to witness the mind blowing, faith-enhancing miraculous healing of my middle child from kidney disease, which doctor’s thought he’d have for his whole life.

Daniel 4:2-3: “It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation.”

I’ve also struggled through seasons of sorrow, where my heartfelt prayers seemed powerless to change a harsh reality I was facing.

John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Through it all, my faith has grown into a deep appreciation not only for the awe-inspiring ways God blesses us with the desires of our hearts but also for the ways God purifies our souls through trials and tribulation.

James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I have questioned deeply what the most powerful way to share faith is. How can I share the joy of my spirituality and belief in miracles, while also being real about struggles? Let’s face it, many parts of our faith journey involve waiting on the Lord, which can feel excruciating.

We know “all things work for the good of those, who love God and are called according to His purposes,” but how do we experience this in our daily lives when we’re struggling?

This is a big question with many answers I hope to blog about over time. One thing I think helps tremendously is to cultivate a miraculous mindset.

A miraculous mindset is just a choice to intentionally focus on all the serendipitous encounters, moments of grace and mini miracles of daily life.  They’re there if we look for them, but all to often we fail to notice. 

The more we focus on God’s actions in our lives, the more we witness them and appreciate His steadfast presence in good times and bad. This increases our faith and naturally motivates us to praise Him and pray, which starts a ripple effect of receiving increasingly more grace and miracles over time. It’s that simple!

Prayer works, but we have to wait sometimes. And one way to keep our spirits up is to focus on the good and miraculous things God is doing for us in daily life.

So, the question is: what wonders is God working in your life lately? Has He given you perfect weather and sweet words from a toddler you love or arranged a chance meeting with an old friend that meant a lot to you? Has He given you a sense of His loving spiritual presence or performed a dramatic miraculous healing in your life? (I can vouch that they happen!)

To get you thinking, here are some miniature miracles I’ve experienced in recent weeks. These are actually what I consider big ones, praise God for having an amazing couple of weeks!

On a recent trip to the ocean, on our first night there we saw whales spouting from our living room window in the distance and were able to cuddle up as a family and watch them for hours. This was a total dream come true and a magical memory our whole family will always treasure. I had prayed that God show us the wonders of nature, and I believe He orchestrated that to razzle dazzle us on night one, which he proceeded to do for the entire trip. I actually think even just getting away for a vacation to such a beautiful place was a miracle with our busy lives. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the priceless experiences we shared.

Just yesterday, I received a snail mail letter of love, appreciation and encouragement from a dear friend, as if her consistent loving presence in my life isn’t enough of a gift from God. This letter melted my heart in a big way. I’m someone, who has walked through seasons of  loneliness and experienced extreme lack of supportive community. Though I now see how God used those times to forge a deeper relationship directly with Him, they were very hard at the time. So now after all these years to be nourished with so much support from faith-filled friends is truly a miracle to me, I am so grateful!

These are just a few personal examples! I could go on about all the sweet miraculous moments of everyday life as a mother, even though my kids truly drive me crazy very often. I’ll save the grit and grace of praying through motherhood for another blog post!

But I write this to help YOU get thinking about the miniature miracles in your own life.

Prayer
God bless anyone reading this to receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and to be filled with the grace to realize Your Powerful Presence in every aspect of their lives. Bless them immeasurably and help them to appreciate all the gifts you are constantly pouring into them.

Reflection Questions
What beautiful thing happened to you lately that you couldn’t have orchestrated yourself? How does God work through the people and experiences of your life to bless you through good times and bad? 

Action Step
Start a gratitude journal! Write three loving things God did for you every single day before you go to bed, and watch your perception of life shift. Miracles truly are a mindset you can cultivate with a little intentionality, and you will be so glad you did. 

Share a mini miracle you’ve experienced in the comments below. We’ll praise God for all the ways He’s blessing your life and pray for you to receive ever-more grace from Him.

How to transform your fears into faith

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

I am a born worrier, who has been transformed by grace into a prayer warrior, who doesn’t stay stuck in fear for very long.

I credit my sensitive disposition as one of the factors that sparked my spiritual journey, which has forever enriched my life.

So if you’re a worrier, I see that as great news.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not an advocate of fear by any means. I agree with Jesus, who  advised us to “be not afraid” in a myriad of creative ways.

But I also see anxiety as an excellent launching point to grow a soul-satisfying faith life.

I mean! So many people wander the earth in a superficial way, carelessly trodding through life oblivious to people around them and the negative effects of their insensitivity.

Worriers don’t make that mistake.

Worriers  tend to be highly sensitive people, who feel things deeply and naturally want to care for others. Worriers tend to be thoughtful, compassionate and fiercely loving human beings, who are wired to pay attention to the emotional landscape all around them.

Though worriers run the risk of getting overwhelmed, it’s because they’re perceptive and brave enough to notice the heartache and risks that really do exist all around them.

I see this a good thing because we can’t pray for a problem that we don’t even know exists.

The mind of a worrier is a natural prayer list creator – we just need need to practice shifting our fears into faith, so God’s grace can start transforming us into the prayer warriors He’s calling us to be.

Here are a few habits that can begin to transform your fear into faith:

1 – Take time to quiet your mind in prayer and meditation every morning
The early hours are best for this because it’s quiet, while everyone else is sleeping. This literally can rewire your brain to be more peaceful.

2 – Cultivate mindfulness throughout the day
Pay attention to your thoughts, take more deep breaths. Notice when you’re starting to think fearfully.

3 – When you find yourself panicking, pray instead
When you pay attention to your thoughts, you have the power to shift into prayer. For example, if a news headline makes you fear war, pray for peace. When you’re concerned about a friend, cover her in prayer. When you’re afraid of losing your job, pray for God to guide you to a more secure one.

It really is this simple! Just stick with it. Grace is transformational, but it takes time to rewire our brain from worrying into warrior-ing.

Do you struggle with worry? Comment below, so we can pray for you to experience more of God’s peace in your life?  

Have you found true spiritual freedom?

American Soul

Did you Did you know that poetry can be considered contemplative prayer on paper? Or in this case, a computer screen;) Dive into a deeper life of faith by pondering the meaning of the words below and reflecting on the questions afterwards. God bless you on your spiritual journey! 

American Soul

I think my soul is getting too big for this place

It’s like trying to fit a magenta sunrise over the pacific ocean
with fluffy marshmallow clouds and the joy of leaping of dolphins

into a tiny
plastic
cup,

And I don’t want anyone to try and drink
a squished version of me
or even take a tiny sip that doesn’t reflect my diversity.

I know who I am
and how long it took for me to become this radiant, enormous being

How many times did the volcano have to erupt before it created this island of my soul?
I stopped counting and surrendered into the Fire bigger than myself,
flowing out of myself.

It wasn’t my plan, it burned.
But I survived,
and here I am like the radiant dawn herself.

Now that it’s time for palm trees, cool evening breezes and wild flowering trees,
I don’t even need time anymore
or ballot boxes,

at least not to tell me who I am.

I know
politics can’t contain this love in me,
this compassion.
That tiny list of who I can vote for is a joke.

As if I could choose between unborn babies and refugees or teenage mothers with no support, who are scared to death and make a choice. Don’t get me started about the prisoners on death row …

What happened to them to stunt their growth?

I just want them ALL to come to my shores.
I want everyone to feel the breeze of Truth and Mercy that blows here
and sustained me through my own trial-filled years.
I want them to be still and rest quietly,
listening to the waves of love crashing on my rocky coastline.
I want them to bask under the gorgeousness of my stars
and begin to get a sense of their own inherent vastness.

Will I erupt again?
I don’t know,
I am not in control of this life I’ve been given,

But I have noticed how much bigger I’m getting …
I don’t fit here anymore,
It’s like trying to squeeze the size of  purple mountain majesty into a tiny box
with a check mark on it …

I am open for more.

I’m outgrowing this,
but I’m not going anywhere,
And you can’t move me either.

I’m too big for politics
but just the right size for grace
and Truth that can move mountains and create whole new spaces.

You don’t need a plane ticket or freedom, food, water or shelter to rest on my shores.
You don’t even need to know about me.
My heart is open like an island rose,
and YOU are here in my prayers, which are powerful.

I look forward to watching you grow.

Reflection:
I wrote this trying to reconcile all of my feelings about the goodness of America in contrast to the the way our political landscape has divided our nation to such a dramatic degree. I invite you to reflect on where your own spirituality fits in with your politics. I also invite you to reflect on ways you can begin to help be a healer and a peacemaker in these troubled times. Are you willing to reach out to someone, whose beliefs are different than yours to try and find common ground? Are you willing to see the best in others, even when you don’t agree? Are there ways you can bring more of God’s healing love into our troubled world? 

Prayer: 
God please bless our nation to truly be guided by Your Highest Truth, Mercy and Unconditional Love always! Heal us, bring us together as one for the common good and Your Glory. Amen. 

Copywrite Nicky Gant 2/2/2017

Gorgeous Chaos

Did you know that poetry can be considered contemplative prayer on paper? Or in this case, contemplative prayer on a computer screen;) Dive a little bit deeper into your life of faith by pondering the meaning of the words below and reflecting on the questions afterwards. God bless you on your spiritual journey! 

This poem explores the benefits of letting go of control to trust God with our lives. It also encourages us to live in the present moment and have gratitude for the little blessings life offers us. 

Gorgeous Chaos

There are some things we want
that we can’t work for to get.

Snow falls down from the sky on a Tuesday
and stops
that night without ever asking if we had enough
or even if we wanted it in the first place.

Of course, we did.
at least a part of us did;
the part that likes to gaze out the window at fluffy beauty raining down like joy …
the open part of us,
the awe and wonder.
The stalwart core of us that’s willing to embrace the cold and bundle up
to experience magic first hand at a moment’s notice,
oblivious to the bitter chill in the air.

www-uniteinprayer-org-8

There are things we can work for too.
we can set goals and accomplish them.
we can make money and keep things orderly.
we can stick to the plan no matter what’s falling from the sky.

I think we have a choice to make when snow comes.
It makes sense to decide it’s too cold and wet to go outside;
There really will be too much laundry.
But will we reject an outpouring of gifts from the heavens because of a little mess?

Who created this gorgeous chaos anyway?
Don’t you think He wants us to experience it?

who-created-this-gorgeous-chaos-anyway

I opened up the deepest chamber of my heart and made a choice.
Then suddenly, I felt something in my soul hop on her sled.
She slipped down to the edge of the yard faster than she expected.
I found her beaming at the bottom of the hill
with fluffy flakes swirling around her face like a picture frame,
expressing the purest joy.

Reflection: This poem is not about the snow!  It’s about accepting God’s grace, which isn’t always easy or practical. We all know God’s plan for our lives is more amazing than we can imagine, but we don’t all have the courage to follow it. Are you open to the gorgeous chaos of God’s vision for your life? Or are you missing the blessings because you’re so focused on being in control?

Prayer: God, give us the eyes to see the gifts and guidance you give us and the courage to accept them with open hearts and minds. Amen. 

 

Prayer After Loss of Father

God, please uplift those who are grieving the loss of their father today.

Help them capture favorite memories of him.

Crystalize his most distinctive characteristics in their minds.

Help them to experience the essence of who He is in their hearts, so they realize that He will always be with them in a spiritual way.

Quickly bring healing to any painful memories and bring forgiveness to any mistakes he made in his humanity.

Fill their hearts with confidence they’ll see him in heaven someday.

Through this time of loss, help them gain a deeper realization of Your love, which will always be with them.

Draw them closer to You, and surprise them with experiences of Your fatherly love here on earth.

Support them powerfully through friends and family members as they grieve.

Strengthen their relationships through this difficult time.

Inspire them to make the most of their own precious lives.

Bless their father on His journey to heaven.

In Jesus name, we pray.

Are you grieving the loss of your father today? Please share your story, and we’ll lift you all up in prayers too. 

Prayer for America through this election process

“America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”
-Katharine Lee Bates, America the Beautiful

Heavenly Father, can you pour some special graces on the America people right now?

We really need Your help with this election.

We all want peace.

We all want justice.

We all want bright futures for our children and grandchildren.

But Lord, You know we cannot seem to agree on the best way to achieve these things.

Please steer us in the right direction! 

Open our eyes to see through the lies and manipulations, so we know who to trust.

Fill us with wisdom and understanding of the big picture, so we are not blinded to Your Will by one particular issue we are concerned about.

Give us the humility to let go of attachment to a particular political party in order to do what’s right for this particular election.

Protect us from being negatively influenced the divisive rhetoric, which creates fear and mistrust in each other.

Help us remember our common humanity, across all bounds of race and religion.

Strip away all of our selfish motives and illusions that prevent us from purely wanting what is best for everyone.

Guide us by the pure light of Your love and truth. 

Show us how to let go and forgive for the past and shift our focus only to what’s best for the future.

Open our hearts and minds to each other, so we can discuss the real issues in respectful ways.

Give us the grace let go of our own limited thinking.

Show us how to work together for the common good.

Give us clarity to know directly from You, who will be best for our country at this time.

Help us to think long term as we vote, and give us the stamina to continue to fight for our deepest convictions, even after this election.

Fill us with courage to stand by our convictions.

And somehow make our nation better, stronger and more united after going through this difficult political season.

What are your prayers for this year’s presidential election? 

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