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Vibrant faith

is

mobile

Settings for forming faith
Just as a compass highlights four primary directions – North, East, South and West, our faith is experienced and expressed in four primary arenas of life:

  • our homes
  • our congregations
  • online, and
  • our communities.

How do we help people love God and others in all arenas of life? Thriving churches form faith that goes beyond what happens within the church. Ask your team the following questions:

  • Do our faith formation plans include all seven settings?
  • Do we provide people with resources they can use in their homes and daily lives?
  • Do we offer individual or group spiritual direction?
  • Do we point people to online learning opportunities?
  • Are current events part of our faith-related curriculum?
  • Do we extend Sunday morning experiences into the week through blogs, reading assignments, faith practices and prayers?
  • Is our website and Facebook page a place for forming faith and building authentic community?

Vibrant faith

is

relational

The ABC’s of Vibrant Faith
Forming faith is best done in community where we find ways to

  • • awaken people to God’s presence in their lives through spiritual practices and faith-shaping rituals and routines.
  • build life-giving, long-lasting, faith-forming, developmental relationships through intentional interactions with people of all ages at and beyond the church.
  • contribute our time, talents and treasures in meaningful ways that are aligned with God’s dreams for the world.

Christian communities that serve and bless others have the power to change lives and transform communities. Communities that emphasize whole-life discipleship take time to imagine what would happen if . . .

  • we viewed the church as a WHO, where the people of God bring Christ’s transforming presence everywhere they go, rather than a WHAT – a place you go to once or twice a week.
  • we encouraged people to have more than one faith community in which to practice and pass on faith, and where our homes would be one of the primary venues for faith formation?
  • our network of faith forming connections included friends, co-workers, family members, relatives, neighbors and god parents?
  • everyone could name at least five people in their life that encouraged them in life and faith and made God the subject of their conversations?
  • we embraced the idea that our primary mission field isn’t located across the world but rather out our back doors and through the face-to-face and virtual interactions we have with our neighbors, friends and co-workers?

Vibrant faith

is a

way of life

Faith impacts everything we say and do
The Great Commission and the Great Commandment describe a way of life that people find compelling yet difficult to do. We strive to be mindful of God’s presence in their lives, to experience community through life-giving relationships, and to be transformed through prayer and worship yet often lack the basic knowledge and skills to do so in ways that are transformative. We seek to align our words and actions with God’s dreams for the world but are unsure where to start and have yet to discover, develop and deploy our gifts and passions. We yearn to leave a legacy yet often feel trapped by the demands of daily life. We seek to avoid compartmentalizing our faith, yet are unsure how we might allow it to permeate every nook and cranny of our lives.

Vibrant faith is about learning to following in the way of Jesus and learning to become fishers of people in a 21st century. How would you describe a life of faith in your particular setting? Ask yourself:

  • How does your faith influence what you say and do?
  • How does seeing the world through the eyes and ears of Jesus influence your angel of vision?
  • How does being a follower lead to a different assumptions about life?
  • How does being a Christ follower lead to increased joy? A sense of gratitude? A mindset of abundance?

Vibrant faith

is a

lifelong adventure

What’s your next step?

Just like there are markers for physical and mental maturation, there are also markers for spiritual maturation.
There is a maturation journey we embark on from our first breath on this earth until our last. And there are markers along the way to help us determine if we are ahead of the curve or behind it. For instance, if a 10-year-old is drinking from a bottle, we know something is wrong. If a 5-year-old is still crawling we know something is wrong. You get the idea.
Just like we develop as humans, we also develop as Christians. And just like there are markers for physical and mental maturation, there are also markers for spiritual maturation. But what are they? Well, let’s start by eliminating some things.

Everyone

has a

next step

Do you have a four-year plan for growing faith?
A pastor shared with parishioners during a graduation milestone, “Our graduates have a four-year plan for growing in wisdom, knowledge and new skills. What would happen if each of us created a four-year plan that would deepen our biblical knowledge, deepen our prayer life, deepen our capacity to use our gifts and share our faith?”

Taking next steps require intentionality, accountability, courage and a broader vision of how God might use us for the good of the world. What if we assumed that everyone has a next step for going deeper in faith? When people begin learning to play the piano, start taking karate lessons or embark on a new degree program there’s an assumption that there will be continuous learning, and multiple steps leading to mastery. Next steps are assumed and can be identified.

Christ followers would benefit from being as intentional about forming faith as we are about learning to play an instrument or learn a new sport. When learning new skills, initial steps seem awkward and unnatural, yet upon practice, become second nature. How might we go deeper with faith so that it becomes second nature for us?  Listed below are a common next steps for people of faith:

  1. Develop a daily prayer and devotional life.
  2. Begin reading and reflecting on scripture.
  3. Connect with 2 or 3 others (a small group) for spiritual encouragement and accountability.
  4. Assess one spiritual gifts and sense of call.

Indicators

of

spiritual maturity

Maturing followers of Christ . . .

  • don’t allow the highs and lows of life to impact their relationship with God.
  • experience the “daily-ness” and trivial seasons of life.
  • are at peace with situations beyond their control.
  • don’t allow Spiritual disciplines to take a back seat. They create space for meditation, Bible study, prayer, solitude, worship and witness, community and confession and service.
  • maintains a sense of wonder and awe along with an anticipation of what God is up to their life and the world.
  • like children take risks and see the beauty and joy in life. Children don’t put up walls based on skin color. They celebrate, laugh and don’t put up walls. They refuse to accept the joyless, bored life that often associated with adulthood.
  • listen deeply to others who have different viewpoints with the goal of growing and not correcting. They glean insight from everyone and have conversations with atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, Baptists and Pentecostals with the goal of learning. They understand their perspective is limited and acknowledge that God doesn’t need spiritual police. They understand that listening to another viewpoint does not equate to condoning or accepting it.
  • love those without a voice because they are close to God, and God is close to those without a voice.
  • understand that Christianity doesn’t have an on/off switch. They live for God 24/7/365.
  • are constantly aware of their surroundings and aware of opportunities God is presenting them to disciple, share, love and comfort. They believe God is always working, and they are not going to miss an opportunity.
  • have a sustainable rhythm to your life. They find value in exercise, hobbies, vacations, Sabbath and ways to live abundantly and holistically.

USE THESE PRAYERS WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS 

Listed below are six gestures of a morning prayer ritual. Use each gesture to join spirit and body in praising the Holy One and offering my thanks for your life. Include a one line prayer for each movement, remaining in that posture for a brief time.


  1. Offering the Creator praise and gratitude:  Stretch your arms high and wide above your head I thank you, Holy One, for the gift of another day of life.
  2. Intentionally being aware aid my spiritual bond with all creation:          Hold arms out from your sides, a little below shoulder height. Move (pivot) to the left and to the right with your arms stretching outward toward the cosmos. I reach out in compassion to my sisters and brothers throughout the universe.
  3. Offering my life to the Holy One: Stretch your arms out straight in front of you slightly apart, palms up. I give to you all I am and all I have.
  4. Opening to accept what the Holy One offers me this day: Pull your hands close together and cup them as a container. I open my entire being to receive the gift that you have waiting for me in this new day. 5
  5. Remembering to be kind to our planet Earth: Bend over, reach down, and touch the floor, or better yet, the ground, if you are outside. I touch this planet, Earth, with awe, reverence, and gratitude, promising to care well for her today.
  6. Awareness of the indwelling presence of the Holy One: Stand up, cross hands over your heart, and bow to the waist. May I be united with you throughout this day, aware of your love strengthening me and shining through me.

This is a modified ritual similar to what author Joyce Rupp describes in her book, Out of the Ordinary, Ave Maria Press, 2000, page 171

  1. Give us grateful hearts, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
  2. For the bounty laid before us, may the Lord make us thankful, and ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.
  3. Dear Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and us to your service. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
  4. Bless us, O Lord, for these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
  5. Dear Lord, thank you for this food. Bless the hands that prepared it. Bless it to our use and us to your service, and make us ever mindful of the needs of others. Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
  6. Rub a dub, dub, thank you God for this great grub! Amen.
  7. Thank you, God, for loving me. Thank you for my family. Help me to learn more each day and to be kind at work and play. Amen.
  8. We thank thee for our daily bread. Let, also, Lord, our souls be fed. O, Bread of Life, from day to day, sustain us on our homeward way. Amen.
  9. Lord, we have been nourished by our meal and by Your presence with us. Give us strength to build the unity of love among ourselves and friends and others. Help us grow in your ways, which are the ways of peace. We offer this prayer through Jesus, who is our way, our truth and our life. Amen.
  10. May our home be made holy, O God, by Your light. May the light of love and truth shine upon us all as a blessing from you. May our table and our family be consecrated by your divine presence at this meal and at all our family meals. Amen.
  11. O God, bless this food we are about to receive. Give bread to those who hunger; and hunger for justice to those who have bread. Amen.
  12. Bless each of our families. Bless this food that we eat. May we be a blessing to all that we meet. Amen.
  13. Now I fold my hands and say thank you God for this meal today. Amen.
  14. For every cup and plateful, please make us truly grateful. Amen.
  15. When I get up, I’m thankful for a brand-new day. When I get dressed, I’m thankful I can run and play. When I sit down to eat, I’m thankful for my food. And most of all, I’m thankful for a God who is so good. Amen.
  16. God our Father, Lord and Savior, thank you for your love and favor. Bless this food and drink we pray, and all who shares with us today. Amen.
  17. For health and food, for loving care, for friends and blessings everywhere, we give you thanks O God. Amen.
  18. Thanks we give to God above, for this bread, this sign of love. That our words and loving deeds help bring comfort and help feed. Bless us Lord that we may be Christ for others, serving Thee. Amen.
  19. Thank you God, as this day ends, for my family and my friends. Taking time to sit and pray, thank you God for this great day! Amen. (from the “Boz” series via the Burke family)
  1. Give us grateful hearts, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
  2. For the bounty laid before us, may the Lord make us thankful, and ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.
  3. Dear Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and us to your service. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
  4. Bless us, O Lord, for these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
  5. Dear Lord, thank you for this food. Bless the hands that prepared it. Bless it to our use and us to your service, and make us ever mindful of the needs of others. Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
  6. Rub a dub, dub, thank you God for this great grub! Amen.
  7. Thank you, God, for loving me. Thank you for my family. Help me to learn more each day and to be kind at work and play. Amen.
  8. We thank thee for our daily bread. Let, also, Lord, our souls be fed. O, Bread of Life, from day to day, sustain us on our homeward way. Amen.
  9. Lord, we have been nourished by our meal and by Your presence with us. Give us strength to build the unity of love among ourselves and friends and others. Help us grow in your ways, which are the ways of peace. We offer this prayer through Jesus, who is our way, our truth and our life. Amen.
  10. May our home be made holy, O God, by Your light. May the light of love and truth shine upon us all as a blessing from you. May our table and our family be consecrated by your divine presence at this meal and at all our family meals. Amen.
  11. O God, bless this food we are about to receive. Give bread to those who hunger; and hunger for justice to those who have bread. Amen.
  12. Bless each of our families. Bless this food that we eat. May we be a blessing to all that we meet. Amen.
  13. Now I fold my hands and say thank you God for this meal today. Amen.
  14. For every cup and plateful, please make us truly grateful. Amen.
  15. When I get up, I’m thankful for a brand-new day. When I get dressed, I’m thankful I can run and play. When I sit down to eat, I’m thankful for my food. And most of all, I’m thankful for a God who is so good. Amen.
  16. God our Father, Lord and Savior, thank you for your love and favor. Bless this food and drink we pray, and all who shares with us today. Amen.
  17. For health and food, for loving care, for friends and blessings everywhere, we give you thanks O God. Amen.
  18. Thanks we give to God above, for this bread, this sign of love. That our words and loving deeds help bring comfort and help feed. Bless us Lord that we may be Christ for others, serving Thee. Amen.
  19. Thank you God, as this day ends, for my family and my friends. Taking time to sit and pray, thank you God for this great day! Amen. (from the “Boz” series via the Burke family)

This prayer practice was developed by Debbie Streicher who worked with both Vibrant Faith and Faith Incubators.  She is also one of the founders of Milestones Ministry.

Care to have some fun, keep your family communicating every night, and grow in your understanding of yourself and God? Try this simple five-step process for the next six weeks and see if it doesn’t help! Keep in mind that doing even a couple exercises is better than not doing any  of them.


The FAITH 5 (Faith Acts In The Home)

Here’s how you do it: Whoever is going to bed first in your home calls “FAITH 5” or “Huddle Up!” Everyone must drop what they’re doing, turn off the television, put down the newspaper or their homework, set the cell phone on silence and gather in a room of the convener’s choice. Then take turns going through these five simple steps:
  1. SHARE highs & lows of the day
  2. READ and highlight a verse of Scripture in your Bible
  3. TALK about how the verse relates to your highs & lows
  4. PRAY for your highs & lows, for your family, and for the world
  5. BLESS one another
You want a great relationship with your kids? You want openness, honesty, caring and sharing in your family? You want to raise a child to be a strong, thoughtful, empathetic, positive, healthy adult out in the world some day? You can’t buy that. You have to invest in it. And the investment is the most expensive currency you own – your TIME – aimed at that most precious young person in your life.
Kids spell love TIME. Be intentional. Be consistent. Be caring. Be the parent. Every night. Every home. No one else can do that for you.
Four Questions
  1. For Parents of Young Children: What would it be worth to you to have a teenager some day who won’t go to sleep without talking to you about their day? Praying with you? Blessing you? Would it be worth five minutes? Tonight? Every night?
  2. For Parents of Pre-Teens: What would happen to your family over time if you were able to keep this open, caring communication going every night throughout adolescence?
  3. For Parents of Teenagers: Once the teen years begin and drivers’ licenses come into play, communication between parents and teens can become a challenge. How might this type of five-minute conversation change a family if they were intentional and consistent about it? Would the benefits outweigh the hassle of trying to invest this time of care, listening, and prayer each night in your home? Why or why not?
  4. For Church Leaders: What would happen to a family over time if they made an intentional point of doing the Faith 5 most every night? What would happen to your church five years from today if the majority of your households were doing active listening, scripture, faith talk, prayer, and blessings every night?
Use these prayers with your family throughout the week or at a family gathering.
  1. Flashlight Prayer | Prayer Directions:  A flashlight can help “brighten” your family’s prayer time. Darken a room in your home and gather your family together. Explain to your family that light from the flashlight will represent the light that Jesus brought to a dark, dark world. The flashlight can be used in two ways to aid your prayers. One way is to shine the light on one family member at a time and focus your prayers on that person.  The other way is to shine the light on a family member and they take their turn praying.  At the end of your prayer time remind your family that Jesus is still the light in our dark world.
  2. Refrigerator Prayers | Prayer Directions:  What’s on your refrigerator door? Chances are it’s the message and information center for your home. This prominent place can be used to become the prayer center of your home. Place a pad of sticky notes beside your refrigerator. Every time one of your family members has a prayer request he or she can write it down on a note and post it on the fridge for the family to see and include in their prayers.
  3. Presence Prayers | Prayer Directions:  Brother Lawrence, a monk in the 1600’s, wrote about living in God’s presence though out the day. His thoughts became the book known as The Practice of the Presence of God. His writing encourages us to turn to God throughout the day with simple prayers such as “Please help me Lord,” or “Thank you God for loving me.” The time taken to pray these simple prayers throughout the days allowed Brother Lawrence to experience God’s presence each day.  We can pray as Brother Lawrence did and experience God’s presence.  Throughout your day briefly stop and turn your mind toward God with simple prayers such as “God, forgive me,” “Lord, help me,” “Father, protect me,” “Gracious God, calm my fears,” or “Savior, I love you.” Commit to spending time throughout your day in the presence of God.
  4. Family Blessing Prayer | Prayer Directions:  Moses prayed this prayer of blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26 (Contemporary English Version) for the people of Israel in the Old Testament. Parent:  place your hand in the air over your family while you pray this prayer out loud.
  5. Room By Room Prayer | Prayer Directions:  Where does your family pray? Do you pray at the table? beside your bed? What if you prayed in both of these places…and more! Every room in your home can be a place to pray.  Pray for your family’s health in the bathroom, thank God for your many blessings in the kitchen, and pray for your friends in the living room.  Take your family from room to room on this prayer adventure.
  6. Two Times Prayer | Prayer Directions:  Prayer X2 is an easy, meaningful way for your family to pray.  Ask your family members to each pray for two people, one from your family and one from outside your family.  One member of your family will begin the prayer and another will end it with each one praying for the two they have chosen.  Once your family feels comfortable with this type of prayer you can add the extra challenge of praying for three people each.  These could include the people in your family, people in your church, and people outside your family and church.
  7. Psalm 121 Prayer | Prayer Directions:  Use Psalm 121 as your family prayer.  Ask each family member to read one verse. Stand up as you read to call the attention of other family members to the words being spoken.
  8. TRIP Prayer | Prayer Directions:  Using TRIP as an acronym, begin by offering a prayer of Thanks for God’s many blessings in your life.  Proceed with naming prayers of Regret (sins of omission and commission). Then offer prayers of Intercession (prayers on other people’s behalf).  Close with offering Praise to God.
  1. Pocketful (or purse/wallet) of Prayers |Our best prayer reminders may be in our pockets (or purse/wallet). Invite each person to choose one item from their pocket or purse as a symbol for ongoing prayers. Share stories and prayers.
  2. iPod/DVD Prayers | Recorded songs from Christian sources hold great meditative potential. Print the lyrics to a popular song or show or a scene from a recent movie DVD.
  3. Newspaper Prayers | Transform the daily newspaper into a source of prayers.  Have participants read the headlines of an article and end with the words, “Lord, have mercy.” Participants will respond with, “Hear our prayer.”
  4. Map a Prayer |Post a map (world, country, or community) in a prominent place. Place a pushpin in a location that is in need of prayer (or place a candle on the location of the prayer).
  5. Milestone Candle Prayers | Whether the occasion is a birthday, anniversary, or any other cause of celebration where cake and candles are present, it’s an opportunity for prayers of affirmation and thanksgiving.
  6. Walking Prayers | Walk together around a church building, camp property, or through the community.  Pray for a specific ministry or a need for those living in the homes or apartments, or working at a shop.
  7. Blessing of Sacred Space | Create a spiritual environment where your group or family will gather. Bless your home and the articles inside of it. Pray for the people and experiences represented by the artifacts in each room.
  8. Web Prayers | One person begins by holding a ball of yarn and then offers a sentence prayer.  This person tosses the yarn to another person, who in turn, shares a prayer and tosses the yarn to another person.  Close by thanking God for the connected faith community.
  9. M&M Prayers | Any candy that comes in a variety of colors will work.  Assign a designation for each color.  After everyone selects a candy from the dish, read the designation and give a few moments of reflection time. Invite participants to use their color to pray about specific issues or concerns.
  10. Photo Album & Christmas Card Prayers | Take time to review pictures in a photo album and pray for the people represented.  When receiving Christmas or birthday cards, pray for the individuals and families that sent them.

“TRY ON” THESE PRAYERS WITH LOVED ONES 

A great way to pray is to look for God’s presence in your life. More than 400 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola encouraged prayer-filled mindfulness by proposing what has been called the Daily Examen. It is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and to discern his direction for us. Use this prayer practice at the end of a meal, at the end of a family gathering, or part of a bedtime ritual. Try this version of St. Ignatius’s prayer.

Step 1 | Become aware of the presence of God.

  • Recite “Be still and know that I am God.”
  • Become aware of your breathing.
  • Focus on a particular scene or scripture passage.
  • Position yourself in a way to be more open to God’s presence.
Step 2 | Review the day with gratitude.
  • Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights.
  • Thank God for the people you encountered throughout the day.
  • Thank God for sights you experienced (nature, artwork, billboards).
  • Thank God for the sounds you observed (birds chirping, music, etc.).
  • Thank God for smells of today (ocean breeze, food cooking, coffee brewing, campfire, flowers, etc.).
  • Thank God for the moments of delight, joy and laughter.
Step 3 | Pay attention to your emotions.
  • Reflect on the feelings of impatience, anger, jealously or detachment you experienced during the day.
  • Reflect on the feelings of joy, generosity, openness you experienced during the day.
  • Ask what God is saying through these feelings.
Step 4 | Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may be a vivid moment or something that seems insignificant . . .
  • An encounter with another person
  • What’s been in the back of your mind all day
  • A key decision made
  • A significant accomplishment
  • A new way of reframing a problem
  • A new learning or insight
Step 5 | Look toward tomorrow.
  • Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges.
  • How might God use you?
  • What do you need to let go of or resolve?
  • How might you start fresh as a new creation in Christ?
Step 6 | End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus.
  • St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend.
  • Ask forgiveness for your sins.
  • Ask Jesus for his protection and help.
  • Ask Jesus for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face.
  • Do all this in the spirit of gratitude.

Here are some additional/alternative examen questions you may wish to use:

  • What blessed me today?
  • What troubled me today?
  • For what moment today am I most grateful?
  • For what moment today am I least grateful?
  • When did I give and receive the most love today?
  • When did I give and receive the least love today?
  • When did I feel the most alive today?
  • When did I most feel life draining out of me today?
  • When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, God and the universe?
  • When did I have the least sense of belonging?
  • When was I happiest today?
  • When was I saddest?
  • What was today’s high point?
  • What was today’s low point?
  • When today did I ask for what I needed?
  • When today did I not ask for what I needed?
  • When today did I do something because I enjoyed it rather than because I should?
  • When today did I do something because I should rather than because I enjoyed it? …and how is God present, moving, active in that?

When can you practice the Examen?

  • As part of daily prayer
  • Regularly with a small group
  • Regularly with your household
  • At the end of a meeting
  • As part of an annual life review
  • A final Examen as you or someone else is preparing for death
  • …and other times when you would benefit from it
Walking the labyrinth can be a time of simply opening yourself to the Presence of God without any particular “agenda” in mind, or it may be part of an ongoing discernment process during which you seek clarity around a particular question or concern, and especially to recognize God’s will. In the latter case, you might walk the labyrinth while holding a specific intention or question in mind.

Before entering the labyrinth, it is helpful to spend a few moments sitting quietly at the periphery, allowing yourself to become stilled and attentive. If there is music being played, you might invite the music to draw you into a place of prayer. Or there may be candles lit that remind you of the presence of Christ the Light of the World. The rhythm of your breath also can help you become quieted, as you notice its tidal flow in and out of your body, remembering that the word for ”breath” is the same word for “Spirit.”

Take your shoes off. This is consistent with the biblical image of standing on holy ground! As this labyrinth becomes for you a place of prayer and holy encounter, allow yourself to walk on it in socks or barefoot. For practical reasons. this helps to take care of and preserve the labyrinth.
Maintain the quiet. It is important that the labyrinth remain a peaceful and quiet place, though not a silent one. often music, like the kind of music from the Taize community, accompanies and enhances the experiences of the labyrinth. The labyrinth is not a place for conversation. Feel Free to talk with others about your experience of the labyrinth beyond this meditative area.

Pause at the entry into the labyrinth. You may choose to take a deep breath or say a silent prayer to begin your journey. Allow what comes naturally to guide you. Take your time and walk at your own pace. You don’t need to rush it or prolong it. Take it at a tempo that feels tight.


Follow the path. Allow yourself to be guided and to trust. The beauty of the labyrinth is its singular path that leads and allows you to focus on the experiences or walking without worrying about direction. Submerge yourself in the experience of walking a spiritual path.


Rest when you need to rest. The path is a long one and will ordinarily take 20 minutes to complete. Turning points are good places to pause out of the way of others. The center of the labyrinth also provides a place of test. Be mindful of those waiting to get into the center when there are many people on the labyrinth.


Be considerate of others. Remember that you are not alone. Many times there will be several people walking the labyrinth at the same time. Though the path may seem narrow, there is plenty of room. Feel free to walk around others and allow them to walk around you. You can also step slightly from the path, noting your place. Then return to it after another has passed.

Always be respectful and considerate of those who share the journey. Participants usually refrain from eye contact to help one another focus on God’s presence.

Finish the labyrinth in a way that seems appropriate. As you walk off the labyrinth you can breath in long deep breath, silently say a one word prayer or simply depart. After you have walked the labyrinth, you may find it fruitful to continue your prayer through journaling, drawing, or simply sitting in stillness for awhile.

” Lectio,” as it is often called, is an ancient practice of reading and praying the Bible. It is a practice that assumes God’s Holy Spirit inspires the Scriptures and that the Holy Spirit also desires to speak to us today through the scriptures. It is a practice that was developed mainly by monks, but can be used by anyone.

 

It can take 10 minutes or it can take two hours. Lectio Divina takes you through four movements that are designed to draw you closer to God through each prayerful reading of the chosen passage. Begin by quieting your heart and mind and turning your focus to God. Remember that you are entering into the presence of the Living God who is present with you in this holy space. Let everything else go, as best you can, to be with God and hear God’s voice.

 

STEP 1 | Select a scripture passage and READ it

Find a passage to read. It can be any passage in the Bible, but some are easier to read and contemplate than others. On the first reading, simply open yourself to the presence of God. Read the passage slowly and prayerfully, allowing short pauses between sentences. Over time you will discover whether it is more helpful for you to read silently or out loud- try them both. As you read, take in the words and the overall flow of the passage. Then allow a time of silence following the reading – continue to open yourself to the Spirit of God.

 

STEP 2 | REFLECT or MEDITATE on the passage

On the second prayerful reading of the passage, listen for a particular word or a phrase through which God wants to speak to you. You will notice your attention being drawn to something (or if this doesn’t happen, just choose a word). Focus and think on the words, especially any words that “jumped” out to you during the initial readings of the passage. Once you have “received” the word or phrase, begin to silently meditate on that. Reflect on why God would highlight this for you today. Ask God any questions that come to mind, and note things that seem important as you meditate. The focus is on listening to what God has to say to you.

 

STEP 3 | RESPOND or WRESTLE with the passage, and with God

On the third prayerful reading of the passage, listen now for God’s invitation and respond from your heart. The Living God is always inviting us in some way… to let go of something or to take up something; to do something or be something… the invitation can take innumerable forms. Like Jacob (Genesis 32), this is where we wrestle with God. This time of “wrestling” is filled with asking and listening.

 

STEP 4 |  REST and be RENEWED in God presence

The focus of the fourth prayerful reading of the passage is to simply rest now in the love that God has for you. Let the words wash over you- there is no further need to reflect or respond- allow the Spirit to draw you close and fill you with God’s love, grace and peace. Feel free to just sit there and let God speak to you in the silence.

 

Using Lectio Divina with Families

Use favorite family scripture passages that you may already read frequently. Consider reading and reflecting on the gospel lesson for the upcoming week.  Read the passage three times where a different family member reads it each time, pausing for about 30 seconds before it’s read again by another family member. Invite others to share words and phrases that stand out, sharing why those words having meaning for them.  Close with each person offering a short prayer.

 

Most families do this at dinner time, often while waiting for the food to be cooked. Light a candle to be reminded of God’s presence among you as we read the passage and spend time together.  Lectio Divina can also done in the car while on vacation, and as part of family worship gatherings. Invite family members to download a Bible app on their phones so that you always have a Bible with you. Make your vehicle a rolling sanctuary!

This action-reflection model builds the theological bridges between a powerful group experience and the unique story of Scripture. The acronym, D.R.A.G. Bi.G. stands for:

Do it:  Simply do the activity.

Reflect: Identify what you did and how you went about doing it.

Analyze: Discuss all of the issues, thoughts and feelings that came up during the activity.  The awkwardness of cross-generational conversation begins to dissipate as a common experience is shared.

  • Were we effective?  Why? Why not?
  • What kinds of things did/could we do to be effective?
  • Did you think the activity was difficult?  What made it difficult?
  • How many of you thought it was going to be impossible?
  • How did you feel doing the activity?
  • Did you get frustrated?  Why?
  • Who took leadership?
  • Did you have a plan?  Why or Why not?
  • Evaluate how you communicated together.
  • I was most embarrassed by…
  • I learned that…
  • I surprised myself when…
  • As a group we…
Generalize: Connect this experience with something that is going on in your own life.  This is where the experience can become a metaphor. This is an incredible opportunity for the generations to connect on a new level by responding to phrases such as:
  • I feel this way when…
  • I communicate in this manner when…
  • The community I would like to build like this includes…
  • I get frustrated when…
  • Life seems impossible to me when…
  • What is difficult for me now is…
  • A real accomplishment was made when…
Biblicize: This is the point when theological connections can be made. Are there Biblical/theological stories, themes, doctrines or concepts that connect to the activity and/or the conversation you are currently having?  The most critical question in “biblicizing” is, “How does God act in the Biblical account?” or “What does God do?” God enters into the adventures, lives and experiences of the people of Scripture. What does that look like? What are the results?
Generalize again: Having made connections between the metaphor/story of the adventure experience with the God of Scripture we ask, “What does God up to in our lives now?” The sequence flows as follows . . .
  • This adventure experience is like…
  • A similar experience I am having in my life right now is…
  • One of the ways this experience connects with a biblical story or concepts is . . .
  • I see God acting in this in biblical story/scripture passage when . . .
  • I see God acting in my/our life situation(s) today when . . .
The goal is to get young and old  to struggle, question, pray, discuss, study and discern together, and to think theologically. The D.R.A.G Bi.G model creates a rolling dialogue with God and our lives, mediated by the community and the Scripture. We call this the work of the Holy Spirit.