Praying Your Way Out

There is one God, the Father,

From whom are all things, and we to him;

And one Lord, Jesus the Messiah,

Through whom are all things, and we through him.

–1 Cor 8:6 (The sh’ma rewritten by Paul)

One of the guys at last night’s Bible study asked about the situation when you aren’t as “on fire” in the spirit as you had been for a while.

There was a survey of 17,000 followers of Jesus where they asked that question. Did you ever feel away from the spirit, and, if so, what did you do to get back? More than 3,000 said yes. Reading the Bible daily and praying were the path back into the spirit.

We call those spiritual disciplines or spiritual practices. They are a means through which you can rekindle the fire of the spirit. They also should become so habitual that they form your character.

Paul, good Jewish boy and eventually Pharisee, no doubt prayed the Sh’ma every day. “Hear O Israel, The Lord, the Lord our God is one. And you shall love The Lord….”

Paul, after his meeting with the risen Jesus, “rethought” his Jewish teaching in light of the coming of the Messiah. Recorded in 1 Corinthians is a new prayer with which to begin each day. A new Sh’ma.

There was a man who lived in 19th Century Russia. He lost everything he had including wife and kids. All that was left was his Bible and a teaching from a priest quoting Paul, “You should pray without ceasing.” The priest taught him the “Jesus Prayer,”

Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

You can say that prayer with breath. Inhale Jesus Christ, son of God; Exhale have mercy on me, a sinner.

This peasant’s story is recorded in The Way of a Pilgrim. He tried to live praying without ceasing. And people kept coming into his life at just the right moment with just the right assistance.

The Jesus Prayer is powerful. I am now trying to memorize the “new sh’ma” and incorporate it into my life. It helps maintain focus when all around is chaos.

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