For the third week in a row, I’m happy to welcome a guest blogger, Dr. Kathy Johnson, for the final part of her delightful three-part series. Kathy is a former D.Min. Student of mine at Gordon-Conwell and wrote her doctoral thesis on “Scripture Based Reflective Prayer.” As a result, she is a person we need to listen to in our desire as spiritual leaders to go deep with God in our prayer closets. Enjoy these three very practical, personal, and biblical reflections.
In this final post in my series on Scripture-based Reflective Prayer (Reflective Prayer) I will expand on the final two stages: Responding and Resting.
“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me.” ~ Psalm 17:6
The third stage of Reflective Prayer is Responding. At a certain point, our prayer moves from being centered in the intellect to being prayer from the heart. Prayer happens as the living Word touches our hearts and we respond to him at a deep inner level. Praying with Scripture draws us into a deeper encounter with the Living God through his Word. In this stage, we turn the Scripture passage into a dialogue with God, taking time to speak intimately with him about what he has shown us in our reflection. We may ask the Lord what he is saying or how he wants us to apply the truth of his Word to our specific life situation.
Listening is Key
Listening is an integral part of prayer. We move from reflection to responding as we, with open hearts, make ourselves available to the Spirit of God so that he is speaking and we are listening. Many times we think that prayer is supposed to be us talking and asking for things while God listens. In Reflective Prayer, we learn to listen and to be comfortable with silence. Take time to wait for him to respond to your prayer and speak to your heart. Many times he is just waiting for us to open ourselves to hear him and to give him time to commune with us.
“Be still and know that I am God.” ~ Psalm 46:10
The fourth stage of Reflective Prayer is Resting in God’s presence. This stage gives us the opportunity for an intimate time of communion with the Lord. Resting is the point in our prayer experience where the living God infuses his love into our hearts. We simply rest in the presence of the One who loves us and invites us into his transforming embrace. God himself calls us into this silence of heart, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). David longed for times of being in the presence of God and gazing upon his beauty (Psalm 27:4). There are times in all loving relationships when words are not necessary. In this stage we stop speaking and, in silence, simply enjoy being in the presence of God. This is a place where deep transformation of our hearts and lives occurs. Just take time to be with him and let him love you and refresh your soul.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit.” ~ John 15:8
One of the results of encountering the Lord in prayer is that our lives are changed and we become more like Christ. As we draw close to him and his Word transforms our hearts, we will begin to live more and more like a fruitful disciple of Jesus. Our desire to obey him will grow stronger as we spend time with him. The process of Reflective Prayer is not concluded until it arrives at action. This is why it is helpful to ask, “How is God calling you to act in response to what he has shown you?”
Try it for yourself
I would encourage you to try the four stages of Reflective Prayer with one or two verses of Scripture. Have a pen and paper so you can write down any insights that the Lord gives you. Remember to begin with a few moments of silence.
- Read – Read the verses slowly and prayerfully several times (out loud if possible), savoring the words and letting them sink in. Write down any words or phrases that seem to stand out.
- Reflect – Now begin to think about the words or phrases that stood out to you. Come in faith with the expectation that the Lord will speak to you. Ask him a question such as “What does this mean?” to help you reflect more deeply. Write down any insights that God gives you.
- Respond – Prayer is a two-way conversation with the Lord. Respond from your heart to what he has been revealing to you in his Word, especially taking time to listen to what he may be saying to you personally. You may want to write out your prayer to God and anything he says to you.
- Rest – At any time, when you begin to sense the presence of the Lord, stop any mental effort you are making and just rest in and enjoy his presence. This is the time to savor the special moment of connection between you and God. Treasure God’s Word in your heart.
Katherine Johnson is a lover of God, wife, mother, ecstatic grandmother of two, life-long missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators, author, teacher, scuba-diver and Girl Scout. She and her husband live in Dallas, Texas. Find Katherine’s blog HERE and her series of Scripture-based Prayer Guides at www.scriptureprayerguides.com.
Katherine Mills Johnson © 2013 All Rights Reserved