Payne Theological Seminary we are meditating on Psalm 23. Here is the handout I gave Payne seminary students yesterday, and which we're looking at again today. I send them out to pray for an hour, using Ps. 23 as their meditative God-focus. I invite you, through this week, to engage with God using this Psalm.
PRAYER EXERCISE – SPIRITUAL FORMATION
Dr. John Piippo
1. The purpose of this exercise is to enter into the presence of God for the sake of deepening your relationship with God alone. My assumption is that you need God. You need to spend much time in God’s presence. And that time is to be spent in a certain way.
2. Find a “lonely place apart.” When you get to that place, spend one hour with God.
3. Take with you only Psalm 23 and your journal. You may also take a Bible with you. But I want you to use Psalm 23 as your focus of meditation.
4. Leave any cell phones, computers, books, palm pilots, shopping lists, and xerox machines behind. They will be waiting for you when you return from this time.
5. Use Psalm 23 for meditation.
6. Your purpose is not to exegete Psalm 23, but to be yourself exegeted by the Holy Spirit.
7. When God speaks to you, write it down in your spiritual journal. A spiritual journal is a record of the voice of God to you.
8. If your mind wanders, you may wish to write down where it wanders to. Your wandering mind is a barometer of your true spiritual condition. Your mind will never wander arbitrarily, but always to something like a burden or a hope.
9. When the hour is over, return to our class.
A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
I'm also giving the students a copy of this quote from Howard Thurman's Meditations of the Heart, 27-28.
“There is no argument needed for the necessity of taking time out for being alone, for withdrawal, for being quiet without and still within. The sheer physical necessity is urgent because the body and the entire nervous system cry out for the healing waters of silence. One could not begin the cultivation of the prayer life at a more practical point than deliberately to seek each day, and several times a day, a lull in the rhythm of daily doing, a period when nothing happens that demands active participation. It is a wonderful way with which to begin the day and to bring one’s day to an end. At first the quiet times may be quite barren or merely a retreat from exhaustion. One has to get used to the stillness even after it has been achieved. The time may be used for taking stock, for examining one’s life direction, one’s plans, one’s relations, and the like. This in itself is most profitable. It is like cleaning out the closets, or the desk drawers, and getting things in order. The time may be used for focusing and re-focusing one’s purposes in the light of what at first may be only one’s idea of the best and the highest. Then quiet changes begin to take place. Somewhere along the way, one’s idea of the best and the highest takes on a transcendent character and one begins to commune, to communicate with one’s idea of the best and the highest – only a man does not talk to, or with, and idea. When the awareness of God comes in – how He entered, one does not know – one is certain that He has been there all the time. This assurance is categorical and becomes the very core of one’s faith; indeed, it becomes more and more one’s faith. Suppose you begin now, this day, with the use of the quiet time in some such fashion as suggested.”