Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What I Do When I Go Out to Pray

Image result for john piippo lake erie
One of my praying places on Lake Erie

Someone who attended one of my conferences sent me this question: "When you go out to pray, what steps do you take?"

Here's what I do.
I go to a "place of least distraction," which is away from my home and office. One of these places for me is at our local state park on Lake Erie.

I bring three things: my Bible, my journal, and a devotional book (like a Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, or Eugene Peterson book). I often bring a cup of coffee with me.

I find a bench facing the lake. I sit. At this point I am almost always focused on God. I have done this for so many years that I am filled with expectation.

Currently I am slowly, meditatively, reading through Psalms and Proverbs.

As I read, it is common for God to speak to me, either mediately through the Scriptures, through the creation, or immediately. When this happens, I write it down.

If my mind wanders, I note where it wanders to. When it wanders it is always to a burden. Sometimes the burden is from God, and I pray about this (e.g., I feel burdened by what a friend is going through). Otherwise, following 1 Peter 5:7, I burden-cast.

When I am deburdened and detoxified (confession of any sins), hearing God happens more often. I may at that time read some of the devotional book I brought. Usually, I get only a few pages (if that far) when I feel God is again speaking to me. At that point I write in my journal what I feel God is saying.

All this is my usual experience. It does happen, occasionally, that I hear little or nothing. At other times I cannot write the thoughts fast enough.

I feel no pressure to make something happen. I do not evaluate my time with God quantitatively. It is always productive, even if I see no produce.

Almost always (99%) I am refreshed, renewed, healed, directed, corrected, at peace, with great thanksgiving.

***
My recent book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.


I am currently writing Leading the Presence-Driven Church (June 2017)

and How God Changes the Human Heart (A Phenomenology of Spiritual Transformation) (June 2018).