September 28, 2014

Thy Will

In our walk through the Lord’s Prayer, phrase by phrase, we are offering ideas to use our right brain to pray. Too often a familiar prayer, like the Lord’s Prayer, can become more of a rote exercise than a deeply felt prayer. Even rote praying is useful and sometimes something will jump out at you even as you are mumbling through the prayer at one time or another.

Taking time to sit with each phrase and contemplate the prayer with different activities is just another way to make us aware of the depth and beauty of this prayer. Of course, you can do these same exercises with other prayers, or psalms, or even portions of scripture. Try it out. You might be surprised.
Today we come to “Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” If you pause to think about what you are really saying you may find yourself asking what it would look like if God’s will was being done on earth.

Part 1
Get out a real candle and candle holder. Nearly all of us have one or more tucked away. There is something mesmerizing and holy about watching the flame on a real candle move and sway. Sit and watch the candle while repeating the phrase “Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.” Try to sit for several minutes with the candle and prayer.

If you’ve never closely looked at a flame, you’ll see that there are many colors in it. Marvel at these colors as representative of the will of God. Notice that the flame is three-dimensional, not flat as it looks from a distance. God’s will is multi-faceted and (at least) 3D.

Embody your desire in every light and form is the Aramaic translation of this phrase of the Lord’s Prayer.
Part 2
Ponder what “Embody your desire in every light and form” might mean to you and those you know and even those you don’t know, while taking a Prayer walk around your neighborhood.

Take time to notice the similarities and differences in light and form of the trees and plants and yards and houses as you pass. Say a prayer for those living in each home. You may not know the family personally, but God knows them intimately.
Remember God loves each person in your neighborhood with the same love God has for you! You and I may have our differences with some of our neighbors, but in God’s family we are one and called to unity. Perhaps that is part of how we can start to bring God’s will into reality “on earth as in heaven.”

Next time, we'll consider the 'daily bread' we get and give.

September 21, 2014

Thy Kingdom

We have already looked at the first 2 phrases of the Lord’s Prayer. I hope you have found some new insights into this familiar prayer, as we consider ways to prayer using the right side of our brain.

After addressing God as Father and remembering God’s holiness, we ask God to enter our lives. “Thy Kingdom come” we pray.

‘Kingdom’ might conjure up images of knights and ladies and castles, or perhaps all of Creation as the Kingdom of God. Take time to think about what ‘kingdom’ means to you.

Part 1
Offer your prayer about what Kingdom means to you in drawing. This is similar to the Zentangles from Sept. 7, but also very different. Rather than repeating one design over and over, you allow your hand to just draw designs. Some might call it doodling, but you will discover that you have experienced prayer as you draw.

If you want you can write your prayer intention and then draw around it, or you can simply let your hand do the praying as you make patterns. There are many suggestions, indeed books, about this type of prayer but really it’s all about letting your right brain take over the prayer. The website for Sybil MacBeth author of Praying in Color says, “When the page was covered with designs and names, Sybil realized she had prayed. The action of drawing was a wordless offering of friends and family into the care of God.” (

Envision Your “I Can” now is the adjacent phrase from the Aramaic translation. Asking God to ‘envision I can’ in my life and your life can be a powerful offering of self.

Part 2
One way to incorporate this is to braid a bookmark from 3 strands of ribbon or yarn. One strand is for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Spirit. As you braid offer a pray for guidance on how God’s “I Can” will be in your life. 

You can of course decorate the ends of your bookmark with trinkets or bows or other embellishments that have meaning.

Another way to use this prayer form is to prayerfully and with intention pray for a situation or an illness or discernment.

Next week we will seek God’s Will in our lives and prayers.

September 14, 2014

Hallowed be Thy Name

In our excursion through the Lord’s Prayer, we come to the second phrase. Most of us prefer and use the older wording: “Hallowed be Thy Name”. It has such a comfortable, familiar feel. What does ‘hallowed’ mean, though? The modern translation gives an answer. When we say “Holy is Your Name” we are reminded that something ‘hallowed’ is something ‘holy’. The word can also mean consecrated, or sacred, or even revered.

How can we celebrate the ‘Holy’, ‘Hallowed’ or sacredness of God’s name using our creative minds? The simplicity of the words “Hallowed/Holy be Thy Name” invites us into contemplation of God’s Holiness in many ways. We can simply take time to allow the Holiness of God to seep into our souls by sitting quietly.

Sensing the holiness of an event or life or a time causes songs and praise to well up in me. Music takes me to a place where I can be in that Holy or Hallowed place with God.

Part 1
If you have seen the movie Fantasia, you recall that it starts by having the music make designs on the screen. Pick a favorite piece of music. A song works, although instrumental music is more effective. Sit with the music and let images form in your mind. Let the music take you into the presence of the Holy One.

 Part 2
The alternate, Aramaic translation of this line is “Release a space to plant your Presence hereI think this wording takes us in a new direction in our thinking about the Holy. We are called to be open and allow God to be planted in our heart and soul. It still calls us to reflect on the sacredness of God, but in a very personal way. We are inviting God’s Presence into us.

As a reminder of this idea, you might plant something, or get a plant for your prayer area.
If music or plants just don’t speak to you, rejoice in the Holiness of God’s Presence by reciting a familiar litany (simply a series of prayers with a common refrain) or perhaps write your own. Start each line of the litany with the same phrase, add a short prayer of adoration, contemplation, thanksgiving or supplication, and then end with a refrain. A litany based on this portion of the Lord’s Prayer might start:

Father, Holy is your name. I praise you for the glorious beauty of sunrise. Release a space to plant your presence in me.
Father, Holy is your name. I offer to you this day that all it brings is to your glory. Release a space to plant your presence in me.
Father, Holy is your name. I thank you for all that you do in my life. Release a space to plant your presence in me.
Father, Holy is your name. I pray for all whose needs are on my heart, esp. … . Release a space to plant your presence in me.
Father, Holy is your name. Blessed be your Name forever. Release a space to plant your presence in me.

 You can find other litanies online. The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer has several litanies, including the Litany of Thanksgiving below.

 Litany of Thanksgiving (pg 834 Book of Common Prayer)
Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us.
For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea. We thank you, Lord.
For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ, We thank you, Lord.
For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends, We thank you, Lord.
For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve, We thank you, Lord.
For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play, We thank you, Lord.
For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity, We thank you, Lord.
For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice, We thank you, Lord.
For the communion of saints, in all times and places, We thank you, Lord.
Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord; To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen

See you next time.

September 7, 2014

Our Father...

From now until Advent, we’ll be traveling through the Lord’s Prayer a phrase at a time. Often, for me at least, a prayer can become very familiar and you hardly think of the words as you say them. In taking this prayer apart, and then using our creative, right brain, side to think about the phrases, may we gain a new perspective on what we are saying when we pray.

Throughout this series we’ll be taking the ‘thinking outside the box’ to another level every week. Recently on Facebook a translation of the Lord’s Prayer from the Aramaic circulated. This translation shines a different light on the terminology and so the second part of each meditation will use the line from the Aramaic translation.
I invite you to try some of these exercises and enter into this prayer. You can use an idea from part 1 or part 2, or both, or neither. I think you will be enriched if you take a few extra minutes to sit with this prayer. Sometimes, like today, there will be a bonus idea, too.

Of course, we start by saying “Our Father, who is in heaven”. How often do you really think about those simple words?

Part 1: Stop and think about each word in the phrase: like ‘heaven’, ‘Father’, ‘our’. Even the little words ‘is’, ‘in’, ‘who’ may jump out with new meaning. Choose one or 2 of the words. Find photos or other images that illustrate these words for you. They can be photos of your own, like this image of sunrise I took, or ones you find on the internet. Let yourself sit and be drawn into the image and closer to God.
Part 2
The Aramaic translation of the first line is “O Breathing Life, Your Name shines everywhere”. It is very different from what we are used to. The words open up new ways of thinking and praying this line.

The phrase, “O Breathing Life” instead of “Our Father” invites us to breathe a prayer. This is an ancient form of prayer and meditation. Say any short prayer, phrase from a psalm, or simply the word “Jesus”. Breathe in on the first half and out on second. One prayer you can us: “Be still and know/ that I am God.” You can also use this first phrase of the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father/in heaven or O Breathing Life/your name shines everywhere) as the mantra.

Bonus Idea
Another way to pray this first line of the Lord’s Prayer, in either translation, is to use Zentangles.
These are simply repeating ’doodles’/designs (like below). Pick one design from the selection, or make up your own.
Because they are so simple and repetitive, it is easy to pray while drawing. Let your mind roam through the first line of the Lord’s Prayer.

See you next week for ways to consider "Hallowed be Thy Name"