Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trying to reconnect to my spiritual life through prayer journaling

I have been searching for ways to rejuvenate my spiritual life. Spirituality has always been an important part of my life, even during times in which I have been frustrated with organized religion. 

Although I pray daily, I have been feeling for quite some time that my prayer life needs to be rejuvenated. I have been feeling like I just go through the motions of prayer, frequently overlooking the aspects of my life for which I need to be grateful and making prayer requests in a very perfunctory way.

Cotner, J. (2011). Say a Little Prayer, A Journal.
San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books
I was in a stationary shop the other day (I absolutely love stationary and paper stores; it's hard for me to walk by one without going in!), and I came across this book by June Cotner called Say a Little Prayer, A Journal. It is a primarily a journal that you can use to jot down your prayers, but it also includes little "Thought of the Day" blurbs, short prayers shared by others, inspirational quotations, and mini-prompts to give you direction in your prayer for that day (e.g., beside the entry I wrote today, there was a side note with instructions to "write down five things you want to give thanks for today").

My hope is that by setting aside a few minutes each day to write down my prayers, I will force myself to make time for reflection and therefore go through my days more aware and grounded in the present and with greater intention. In addition, I think that by rejuvenating my spiritual life, I will regain a greater sense of control and ability to tackle everyday challenges. Below are a few short prayers from the prayer book that I thought I would share. Even if religion is not your thing, you might still like the message within the prayers.

at daybreak, dear god, 
fill me with your light.
let the sounds of gentle clouds
be like the sounds I make today.
remind me to say good morning to someone.
let me have the strength
to face any adversity that may come my way
and let me face it with love.
or at least with patience.
[MAGIE DOMINIC]

I really liked this prayer by Magie Dominic because I think it is impossible (at least for me) to face every adversity with love; however, patience is something for which I can strive. I think it is important for me to strive to meet challenges, particularly in relation to my healing journey, with patience. I must constantly remind myself that the hurt does not go away over night and that healing from sexual assault (and PTSD in general) is a process. I am trying my best to trust in the process and just go with these emotional swings that leave me feeling nuts (i.e., N.U.T.S.).

Be with me as I enter Your presence.
Give me the patience and the stillness
to hear Your voice.
Fill me with Your spirit,
and help me to understand
what You want me to know.
Quieten my noisy head to make room
for what You want me to hear.
Grant me the wisdom to do Your will --
this day and in the days to come.
Bring me a blessing today
and help me to recognize it when I see it.
[PHYLLIS K. COLLIER]
(1939 - 2010)

I really liked this prayer by Phyllis K. Collier because I feel like my mind is in a state of perpetual chaos these days (well, the last few years, really!). My thoughts bounce around my head so rapidly, particularly when I am in therapy or attempting to verbalize anything related to my assault. I sometimes feel the need to close my eyes and try to latch onto one of the fleeting thoughts because otherwise they are moving too quickly to hold onto. These rapid thoughts play into my feelings of anxiousness and not being grounded in the present. I think this prayer will be a good one with which to begin my day. I like thinking about quieting my head not only because it is unpleasant but because it will enable me to open my eyes to the blessings around me. I know that there are many blessings in my life; it's just sometimes difficult to connect with them.

If you have any prayers, meditation exercises, etc. that you find useful, I would love to hear about them! If you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments section below, or feel free to email them (via the "Contact" tab). 

8 comments:

  1. I think one reason people get so disheartened with organized religion is because of the routine of it. Routine is a trap for the most part because bad habits are formed by routines. Now don't misunderstand me, I don't think there is any problem what so ever with organized religion. However the fact that it's so organized does make us feel like we are trapped into a multiple step process that feels less like faith than it's suppose to and more like an act of OCD.

    This tradition or habit in following a routine can become part of our prayers as well. We have heard people say the same prayer over and over, rather it be a prayer before supper or a closing prayer at church. The habit its self doesn't mean that the prayer is any less sincere, but we need to remember that prayer is meant to edify us while we are praising GOD.

    One of the ways we can edify ourselves and make our prayers and spiritual sides feel less like going through the motions is by recognizing that the relationship we have with GOD is a personal one. Too often we simply say our prayers instead of talking to GOD. Prayers are meant to be a line of communication so that we can talk to GOD, and because of habit we forget that GOD is also our friend. GOD wants us to talk to him with the respect of a child to their father but the closeness and openness of a friend.

    When we really talk to GOD he will help us see our blessings and as we see our blessing more clearly, the routine we feel goes away.

    I hope I explained my understanding of this clearly enough to make sense.

    BTW, you aren't "nuts", I corner the market on that one. LOL

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    1. Okay, okay...we'll fight for the title of "Nuts" haha :)

      Thank you for your comments. As always, your comments make a lot of sense. I think you have a very clear way of explaining things, and I really appreciate your input.

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  2. Dear one I so appreciate your honesty. May you find the closeness of God in your heart. Safe hugs.



    Jesus Calling

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments and hugs, Just Be Real. Also, thank you for recommending the daily devotional website! I look forward to taking a look around it.

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  3. I just read this post and felt led to share with you some thoughts that I have. I don't believe a personal relationship with God has anything to do with organized religion. I believe God wants to you seek Him out and talk to Him, tell Him your worries, your fears, you can even yell at Him because you are angry at your life or your past. God knows I have been mad at God and I used to struggle with praying as well. I think writing things down in a prayer book is the first step and it's so great. Sometimes when I am seeking God and looking for answers I read the book of Psalms in the (NLT version) of the bible. I wanted to share with you my favorite Psalm and it helps me feel hope and I feel comforted to know that God is with me no matter what I am feeling. This is Psalm 23,
    A psalm of David.
    1 The LORD is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
    2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    3 He renews my strength.
    He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
    4 Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
    I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
    Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
    5 You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
    You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
    6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
    and I will live in the house of the LORD
    forever

    Just shows me that God is always here with me. Even when I didn't know what to pray sometimes I would sit and read these Psalms out loud. Keep praying and keep seeking Him!! Stay on the path you are on and God will guide you and lead you closer to Him and closer to healing!!

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    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and for sharing your favorite Psalms. I haven't heard that scripture in years, so it was really nice to read it here. I also really like what you said about being able to express anger to God. I have never really thought of prayer as an opportunity to express anger, but it makes a lot of sense, and I will give it a shot. Thanks again for reading and sharing for thoughts.

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  4. Seems like everyone is posting about religion. Maybe the fact that Easter is only a few months away has something to do with it (or, Passover, if you're Jewish).

    I think one's spirituality is unique to each human being, and I don't really think it's a "choice". We believe what we believe, and if inclined to join a religious group, we pick one that suits what we believe best.

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    1. That's interesting that a lot of people are posting about religion all at once!

      I like your view that spirituality chooses you! I think you're right - we don't really "choose" to believe a certain way. I do find that who I surround myself with affects my spirituality (for better or for worse) so I guess my choices affect my spirituality to some degree. I find that my spiritual life is always changing and evolving with me, but if I'm not careful, my spiritual life fades into the background so I have to make choices that will bring it more into the forefront of my life. So I guess I believe that spirituality is not necessarily a choice, but it is something we can choose to make a priority.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. xx

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