Lamps Burning

     The prayer of the heart in our inward journey to the true Self is the way to divine love. The following practices are offered to help maintain the outcomes of prayer of the heart in daily life.  

     Continue the daily practice. Be faithful to the daily discipline of prayer of the heart, setting aside periods of silence and solitude to quiet the psyche and nourish the spirit. 

     Listen to the Word of God. Set aside time each day for the reading and reflecting on Scripture (or spiritual writing that speaks to your heart) using lectio divina.

     Use affirmations. Select short sentences (five to nine syllables) from Scripture, or aspirations drawn from Scripture, and gradually work them into your subconscious by mentally repeating them when your mind is relatively free (such as when walking or waiting). Eventually, the affirmations will erase “old tapes” of fear, anger, judging, self-recrimination, and so forth. Examples include: “O God, make haste to help me”; “Lord increase my faith”; “Your will be done”; “the LORD is my shepherd”; and “I will fear no evil”. 

   Recognize the goodness of human nature. Realize that our true Self within is the basic core of goodness. While we are not divine, God and our true Self are the same. This fundamental goodness is capable of transforming our imperfect human nature into a loving divine nature. 

     Accept yourself. With love and compassion, accept who and what you are, just as you are – your thoughts, feelings, behaviours, appearance, and life situation. Do this with a welcoming attitude of non-judgement and non-attachment. People with self-acceptance are alert, present, and aware in the moment; feel gratitude and reverence for life; sense a connection to life and God; and treat others with respect, care, and kindness. 

     Accept others. Unconditionally allow people the freedom to be who they are with all their idiosyncrasies. The Scriptures teach: “accept one another” (Romans 15:7). Jesus taught to love without judgment, stating: “do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). This is because judging closes our hearts to love and compassion.

     Love yourself and others. Jesus taught to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27). We are unable to love another person any more than we love ourselves. So we need to learn how to love ourselves unconditionally, without undue or needless self-judgment – and then to love others without judgment.  

     Meet with a group. Join or set up a support group that meets weekly to practice the prayer of the heart in order to encourage one another in commitment to the contemplative dimension of the Gospel.      Cultivate spiritual friendship. Seek spiritual friendships where there is equality without feelings of superiority or inferiority; honesty, including genuine self-disclosure; mutual yielding to the advice of one another; and love and peace, where if needed, differences are set aside. 

     Trust in Christ’s presence. Remember the words of Jesus, “where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20) and “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Also “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me” (Matthew 25:40). Christ is present in a community of faith and in a special way, in important events or crises in our lives. 

     Practice mindfulness. Consciously bring awareness to your here-and-now experiences with interest, openness, and receptiveness. Learn to pay attention non-judgmentally in the present moment.  

     Keep an open mind. Be willing to let go of preconceived ideas and unhelpful cultural conditioning. Rather, keep openness to change, to spiritual growth beyond group loyalties, and to whatever the future holds. 

Photo credit: Intellimon Ltd.



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