Category: Prayer Resources

Godspace blog June 2022

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Happy Holidays?

Holidays are here again! I can tell by the reduced traffic in the street and the summer sales in the shops. (The lateness of this blog may reflect lazy summer days too). Summer holidays are part of the pattern of the school year and part of the dream tourist and travel businesses try to sell us.

But what do holidays mean to you and me? It may be you cannot afford to go on holiday, or cannot find the time. If you have just arrived as a refugee you may not want to risk leaving the country in case the authorities don’t let you back. On your own you may not like the idea of travelling as a single in a holiday season that seems aimed at couples and families. Babies and children at home, or adult children and grandchildren coming to visit may make this a tense and exhausting period.

Yet the original ideas: of holy days to remember God, to have a celebration andto change the pattern of life; and of the sabbath to pause on a weekly (or other) basis to have a change of rhythm, these are good ideas.

So how can we draw from them? How can we make the next two months times of growth and renewal? Be as creative as your time and energy allow, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • How do you build God into your holiday plans? Seek God in nature, use different bible study notes, or don’t use them at all but find a different way of structuring your prayer time. Walk instead of sitting, sing instead of speaking, listen instead of talking.
  • Enjoy celebrating yourself, your friends and your family (even if they are annoying at times!) Practice an ‘attitude of gratitude’ for whatever and whoever turns up.
  • Change your rhythm. London cockneys used to leave their slums and shops to work in the fields at harvest time – not a rest, but a change of pace, of air, of neighbours. What can you change? (If you cannot take your annual break in the next two months, make sure a change of pace is factored in at some point in the year.)
  • Create your own sabbath: it might not be every 7 days (try 1 minute an hour!), but make it a pause that is a holy time.

The Inner Garden Programme Leader Version

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10.00Welcome, coffee, orientation in buildingAnn
10.30Introduction to the theme of the dayAnn
10.45Prayer (including stilling exercise)
We enter into silence
Bess
11.00Imaginative exercise “What does my garden look like at the moment?”Sonja
11.30Time for personal reflection “Different aspects of my garden”Sonja
12.40Feedback session
(Further item if needed – e.g. prayer to be a garden)
Ann
13.00Lunch (eaten together in silence)
13.30Centering PrayerBess
13.40Lectio Divina using Proverbs 3 5:10Ann
14.00Time for personal reflection
“What would I like to grow in my garden?”
“Where shall I find the seeds?”
Possibly also using prayer to be a garden
Ann
15.15Coffee
Group reflection “Bringing our gardens together within the gardener-ship of God”
Bess
15.30Feedback formsSonja
15.45Time to prayerfully reflect on the day
We come out of silence
Ann
16.00END

Please note:  there might be slight changes of timing and content to the programme on the day itself

The Inner Garden Programme for Participants

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10.00Welcome, coffee, orientation in building
10.30Introduction to the theme of the day, and time to quieten ourselves
10.45Prayer
We enter into silence
11.00Imaginative exercise “What does my garden look like at the moment?”
11.30Personal response
12.40Feedback session
13.00Lunch (eaten together in silence)
13.30Midday Prayer
13.40Lectio Divina using Proverbs 3: 5-10
14.00Personal response
15.15Coffee
Group reflection “Bringing our gardens together within the gardner-ship of God”
15.30Feedback forms
15.45Time to prayerfully reflect on the day
We come out of silence
16.00END

Please note:  there might be slight changes of timing and content to the programme on the day itself

Midday Prayer

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Except where otherwise stated, the material used is from Midday Prayer, A New Zealand Prayer Book, He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, published by the The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, https://anglicanprayerbook.nz, accessed 13 August 2021.

I am assuming the word “labours” to include all kinds of work, including what we are doing here today

Pausing at midday

O Christ our rest,

We pause amidst the labours of this day,

to remember the best reason for our labouring.

We labour, O Lord, as stewards of your creation,

and of stewards of the gifts you have apportioned to each of us

for the good of all.

Bless then the works of our hands

and minds and hearts, O God,

that they might bear fruit for your greater purposes.

May our work this day be rendered

First as service to you, that the benefits of it might be eternal.

Receive this, the offering of our labours, O Lord.

Amen.[1]

Let us be at peace within ourselves.

Silence

Let us accept that we are profoundly loved

and need never be afraid.

Silence

Let us be aware of the source of being

that is common to us all

and to all living creatures.

Silence

Let us be filled with the presence of the great compassion

towards ourselves and towards all living beings.

Silence

Realising that we are all nourished

from the same source of life,

may we so live that others be not deprived

of air, food, water, shelter, or the chance to live.

Silence

Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be

a cause of suffering to one another.

Silence

With humility let us pray for the establishment

of peace in our hearts and on earth.

Silence

May God kindle in us

the fire of love

to bring us alive

and give warmth to the world.

Lead me from death to life,

from falsehood to truth;

lead me from despair to hope,

from fear to trust;

lead me from hate to love,

from war to peace.

Let peace fill our heart,

our world, our universe.

Committing the afternoon to God

Shape our thoughts, O Lord, by your truth,

Even as you shape our hearts by your love.

Now grant us strength and grace, O God,

sufficient for the rest of the day,

that we might move through its unfolding

in humble obedience to your will,

in sensitivity to your Spirit

and in joyful expectancy of your coming kingdom.

May the light of that eternal city

Illuminate our hearts, our paths, our vision

Through these next hours, O Lord.

Amen.[2]


[1] Douglas Kaine McKelvey, Every Moment Holy, vol. 1 (Nashville TN: Rabbit Room Press, 2017), 6.

[2] Ibid., 1:8.

Feedback Form – Godspace Retreat March 2022

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Where 1 is “poor” and 5 is excellent, please rate various aspects of the day.  More detailed comments are very welcome as they will help us plan the next day retreat.

1) Your overall impression of the day

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

2) The administration/ information in advance of the day

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

3) The venue

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

4) The refreshments

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

5) The content of the day – the balance between the different activities

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

6) The length of the day

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

7) The printed resource material 

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

8)  The use of music and other resource materials e.g. stones

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

10)  We are thinking of planning more day retreats in the future.  Is this something that might interest you?

11) Anything else you would like to say?

Godspace Retreat 26.03.2022

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Visualisation Exercise

Introduction 
The garden is a place where we encounter God – as the Garden Eden was a place for God and Adam and Eve. We all have a place in us which is only reserved for God

St Augustine   “You were more inward to me than my most inward part,” or, as sometimes paraphrased, “you were closer to me than I am to myself.

Teresa of Avila  “If I would have found out sooner what a great king dwells in my heart, I would not have left him there alone so often”

Imagine that your home had an inner, hidden courtyard in which you had a garden.  No one knew about this secret garden.  The home symbolizes your whole self.  The inner and hidden garden symbolizes the inner and secret depths of your soul.

Wander through the garden of your heart and enjoy the sight and smell of the flowers and their many colors. Maybe there is a bench you can sit on or lean against a tree and look around. Give yourself permission to notice all the details and nuances. Notice the sounds and the colors.

  • What do you see? What feelings come up?  

The gardener is Jesus and He is the one who secretly enters, tilling, planting, weeding, growing and harvesting the many good fruits that come forth from your life.  He desires to enter in secrecy, doing much labor in your life that no one knows about.  

  • Do you allow Jesus to enter into the inner and secret garden of your own soul?  Take some to respond to His invitation    

What else do you see in your garden?  Do you see roots, weeds, rocks and thorns that are blocking your inner garden – these are things that have grown without your help that are taking away life. Some flowers may look good but are poisonous. 

  • Do you need to get rid of hurt and grudges? Is there a need to forgive?
  • Is there an invitation from God to redefine errors and failures? To receive His forgiveness and cleansing

Do you see how this garden is to be watered? Have you watered your garden? Are parts of your garden dry and remind you more of a desert?  Do you see any pond or stream, sprinklers? Has there been refreshing rain or draught lately? Do you see fertile ground?   

  • Do you see seeds that have been planted but not watered.  
  • How does God invite you to water the garden

Your garden has fences. Can you see them? They are important – no unauthorized person has access!  Also, no wild animals should eat the plants.! God gave us those fences/boundaries. They are essential for a healthy garden.  

  • Do you see any disturbance to the beauty of your garden?
  • Are the “garden gates” to the world wide open?
  • Are the fences strong and stable or are some damaged and need to be repaired?

We must work hard to protect the garden of our heart

Prov 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life 

  • Are there things in your life you may need to limit / relationship you may need to set boundaries with.   

It was a place where you planted, tilled, labored, weeded and harvested.  

The produce from your garden was maybe secretly distributed to many to nourish and delight them. A closed and abundantly watered garden brings good fruit.  

  • Where do you see God’s labor in your garden? Where has your garden nourished others?
  • What’s growing in your garden at the moment?
  • Do you allow Him to labor within you, bringing forth an abundant harvest?  
  • What may be flourishing in 6 months time?
  • Does anything need attention. Certain kinds of plants need support 

This work He desires to do in you is a work seen only by you.  It’s a holy secret of grace working in your life.  The Lord offers it out of His perfect love for you.  

He wants to transform it into a garden bursting forth in abundance.

Prayer

Lord, I see this courtyard and I am aware of it being overgrown with weeds of all types.  There is much work to do.  But, this day, I say “Yes” to You.  I accept the labor of perfect love that You offer me and I return to You my gratitude for the miraculous work You desire to do.  Help me to adore You as you prepare the soil, plant Your virtues and bring forth a harvest.  I thank You, my dear Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.

The Gardener-ship of God

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We have largely talked about our own gardens today but they don’t exist in isolation.  My garden is drawn together with all other gardens under the gardener-ship of God. (John 15:1 Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine and my father is the gardener…”).

Questions/thoughts for reflection.

My garden joins onto other gardens….. Whose?  Think as widely as possible.

What are my relationships like with those people?  Do any of those relationships need tending (think about mending/strengthening/boundary-setting)?

Could there be things about my garden that affect other people’s garden’s (positively or negatively)?

And vice versa…..?

How do I imagine all these different gardens brought together under God?

In what ways, if any, does this change how I view aspects of my own garden?

A Thanksgiving for Gardens

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God of grace, in the story of creation, you made the earth a garden and entrusted it to us to till and to keep, a place of peace and beauty where we could walk with you. In the story of redemption, the one who died for us was buried in a garden, and there you raised him up to greet us with new hope and risen life. In the story of the Church, you tend us as a garden, a place of careful pruning and abundant harvest, where we can work with you. Meet us, we pray, today and in all the gardens where we go for nourishment, refreshment and prayer, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

© Anglican Church of Australia

Prayer to be a garden

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From: You Are Made New

Cultivate joy, Holy Spirit, make my heart into your garden. Dig deeply, dig boldly, and dig freely. I resolve to put nothing in the way of Your cultivation. Weed and prune my heart as You desire. Water and cultivate my soul as You desire. Tend my heart as You please.

Cultivate love,

Cultivate peace,

Cultivate patience,

Cultivate kindness,

Cultivate goodness,

Cultivate faithfulness,

Cultivate gentleness,

Cultivate self-control,

Cultivate poverty of life,

Cultivate chastity of heart,

Cultivate obedience of mind.

Root out what does not belong in the garden of my heart, and use whatever tools You desire.

Root out the weeds of selfishness, that tempt me to keep my fruit for myself.

Root out the weeds that hide deep below the surface, the weeds I am afraid to expose to Your Sunlight.

Root out the weeds of vanity, that desperately seek the light of the world, only to wither.

Root out the weeds of fear, that keep me from even planting myself in Your soil.

Root out the weeds of worldly cares, which choke Your fruitfulness in me.

Prune the branches of my heart, of the genuine loves that must be separated from worldly and selfish clingings.

Prune my commitments and give clarity of where You desire for me to serve.

Prune my words, that my mouth may be used only to build up Your Kingdom.

Prune my desires, that I may seek to be cultivated by You always.

Prune my whole life, that by abiding in You and bearing fruit, I may prove to be Your disciple.

Amen.

Imaginative prayer for a friend

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Ann Milton Oct 2021

Moved by the need of a friend we cry out to God for help. And that is good and lovely and pleasing to God. But how do we go about it? Do you find it hard?

One reason we may find this prayer hard is that we cannot rely on words; if we do not know the solution God is working towards we cannot weave helpful phrases. Try instead this imaginative exercise – this is just as much a prayer as an impassioned string of words. Move slowly through it, taking time to see, hear and smell events, and to listen for wisdom.

  • Read Mark ch 2: 1-12, the story of the paralytic man being lowered through the roof to Jesus. Just like you, those who carried the man wanted to bring their friend to Jesus.
  • There is a first scene, not recorded in the gospel but that must have taken place. At the man’s house, his friends must have got him out of bed and on to a stretcher. Imagine going to your friend, suggesting prayer as a way of meeting his or her need. Perhaps they are apathetic, uninterested. Perhaps others around them suggest it is wrong to get up their hopes in this way, better to leave them in peace. How do you feel?
  • You cannot lift the stretcher alone, who is going to help you? Perhaps you have praying friends that you automatically turn to. Or there may be others who also care about your friend who you do not really know, but this is a time to accept their help. Or perhaps you simply have to trust God; that as you do what you can, He will stir others to add their support, unseen by you.
  • Take time to experience the journey to Jesus, to acknowledge the weight of the stretcher. It is hard getting the stretcher to the roof – are there times when you feel like giving up?
  • What happens as you lower him? Do you try calling out to Jesus, explaining the situation? Does Jesus look at you or does He focus on the needy person? How does that make you feel -perhaps a bit upset at not being involved? Had you been hoping that Jesus would acknowledge your hard work?
  • When Jesus speaks to her or him, does He say what you expect Him to say or do you feel He has missed the need as you understand it? The scripture recounts two different but related healings from Jesus for this man, what two separate blessings might he give to your friend?
  • What is the outcome – for your friend, for you for the crowd/community?

It may be helpful to use this prayer again and again, on your own or with others who want to support your friend (or of course you can adapt it for your nation, church, even yourself). As you get to know the story and to create a background, it will become easier to hear what Jesus is saying. As you stay with this story, both as written in Scripture and as you adapt it to your need, you can also adapt the above prayer outline to your situation (eg include the crowd, the difficulty getting to Jesus).

Then go on to find other passages in Scripture you can use in the same way.