He Himself Is Our Peace

As we continue our focus on peace this month, I felt led to share an often-neglected spiritual discipline with you as a way to experience God’s peace in your life. Right now.

What follows is a guided meditation on the Word of God based on the Christian spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer. In his classic book on spiritual disciplines (A Celebration of Discipline), Richard Foster observes:

“In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.”

our peaceOne way we can “disengage” from the pressures of the world is with contemplative prayer or Christian meditation. Foster states that words used in Scripture “to convey the idea of meditation” occur more than fifty times—and that’s just in the Old Testament!

“These words have various meanings: listening to God’s word, reflecting on God’s works, rehearsing God’s deeds, ruminating on God’s law, and more. In each case there is stress upon changed behavior as a result of our encounter with the living God. Repentance and obedience are essential features in any biblical understanding of meditation.”

As followers of Christ, we don’t practice meditation for the sake of clearing our minds or relaxation (although relaxation may be a happy outcome just the same). Instead, we meditate on Scripture and the Lord’s promises in order to bring about repentance in our lives: restoration replaces resistance and rebellion; obedience overrides resentment.

“…Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Today’s devotional will walk you through a Scripture-based meditation that centers on Jesus Christ as our source of peace. As you participate in this contemplative prayer, you will focus your thoughts on your relationship with the Lord by coordinating your breathing (inhale/hold/exhale) with a very simple physical action (palms up/palms down). As you exhale, you will confess your sins.

Physical Location

Scriptural meditation and prayer are gifts God gave us to center our attention on Him and experience His peace in the midst of life’s turmoils, no matter where we are physically. In other words, you can meditate anywhere, but a quiet place would be best. You can do this while laying in bed, sitting at the kitchen table, or even holding a baby. You can do this in the waiting room at a hospital, in the break room at work, or in a recliner by the pool. This is a simple, portable spiritual discipline! For example, King David meditated in the middle of the night while he was laying awake in bed:

“When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.”
Psalm 63:6-7 (NKJV)

Intentional Breathing

Breathing. It’s not something we tend to think about, is it? Since we’ve been inhaling and exhaling our whole lives, the thought of intentional breathing might seem silly. But it’s not. Intentional breathing is a way for us to control our bodies and quiet our minds for the purpose of focusing on the Lord and the truths in His Word.

The 12-Second Cycle

The 12-second cycle is pretty simple, and you won’t need to keep counting after you go through it a couple of times. If four seconds is too long, adjust the timing so that you can focus on the Lord and not your breathing.

  • Take a deep breath (inhale 4 seconds)
  • Hold it for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 4 seconds
  • Repeat

Practice the 12-second cycle until you don’t need to count it out (2-3 times is sufficient).

Physical Position

Whether you’re lying down, sitting, or standing, you can intentionally position the palms of your hands facing up (palms up) to symbolize your willingness to receive the Lord’s gift of peace (or anything from Him, for that matter).

Meditation Palms up or Palms down

When you purposefully turn your palms face down (palms down), you are symbolizing your desire to let go of anything standing in the way of your relationship with Him. With a simple turning of the hands, you can physically position yourself to receive from the Lord and let go of distractions and obstacles.

Fellowship thru Contemplative Prayer

Since our theme this month is “peace,” what follows is a meditation on peace—a fruit of the Spirit. We will begin with a “breath prayer”—one word or a short phrase that can be said within one breath. The breath prayer is one way we can stay in touch with the Lord throughout the day. In other words, don’t make the mistake of thinking that prayer is limited to your “quiet time” or time of meditation. You can utter a breath prayer at any time throughout the day to remind yourself not only what you’re giving up, but also what God is doing in your life.

I have written a few “breath prayers” (see below) to help you get started, but you don’t have to use my words! As Richard Foster says,

“Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word…it involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness. The truth of the matter is that the great God of the universe, the Creator of all things desires our fellowship.”

That just rocks my world! God wants fellowship with ME. God wants fellowship with YOU! And, listen, this is far from an exhaustive training on contemplative prayer (a.k.a. Christian meditation). If this is something you find fruitful, then by all means, do additional research. I’ve recommended a few resources for spiritual discipline on my website which you can access here.

seek his peace

Meditation on Peace

So, for now, won’t you take a few minutes to slow down, pay attention, and listen to the Lord? Make space for Him to speak to your heart and allow Him to take on the burdens that are wearing you down.

We will begin with slowing down your breathing, then pray a few sentence prayers, and end with contemplative prayer. The breath prayer is something you can take with you throughout your day to remind you of this time with the Lord and call upon Him in times of need.

If you follow my outline, you will affirm the truth found in Ephesians 2:14a: “For He Himself is our peace.”

It’s time to start the spiritual meditation that follows. Allow God to fill you with His peace as you let go of anything that might be hindering your relationship. It’s highly likely that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you obstacles in your life which are not listed here. Feel free to go “off-script” as you spend quality time with the Lord today. Remember: He. Is. Our. Peace.

BREATHING
Practice breathing the 12-Second Cycle. Move to the next section when you’re ready.

Receive (inhale): Take a deep breath ~ 4 seconds
Affirm (hold): Hold your breath ~ 4 seconds
Release (exhale): Blow out the breath ~ 4 seconds

SENTENCE PRAYERS 
This section will provide you an opportunity to receive His peace and release various distractions. Move to the next section when you’re ready.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release the turmoil around me to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my stress to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my exhaustion to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my frustrations to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my habit of comparison to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my insecurities to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release any feelings of insignificance to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release all resentment to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my need to control to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my expectations to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my self-centeredness to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my _______________________ to you.

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER
This is your time to fellowship with the Lord. Take your time. Don’t rush this part. Slow down. Listen. Pay attention. 

Pray using your own words…or don’t use any words at all. Use your hands as an outward symbol of the posture of your heart: “palms down” as you confess your sins and release your worries to the Lord; “palms up” as you quietly listen for His voice and receive His peace. You won’t necessarily hear an audible voice, but when the Lord speaks, you will recognize Him. If you’re unsure, continue to listen and pray to the Holy Spirit for discernment. What you hear will never contradict Scripture.

BREATH PRAYER
This is a one-word prayer you take with you throughout your day. Pray it anytime, anywhere. 

The breath prayer for this meditation is “Peace.”

 

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Laura Zielke
Laura Zielke is a deep thinker and Bible scholar. She is not afraid to question tradition and challenges people to evaluate their beliefs according to the Scriptures. Laura earned her M-Div. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis on Biblical Studies, Archaeology, and Languages.

She has been blessed to serve as a lay leader in local churches for more than thirty years. Having been recognized as an outstanding leader, teacher, and entrepreneur, Laura serves as the Community Manager for the Nonprofit Leadership Lab (an online resource dedicated to helping nonprofit leaders worldwide take their organizations from messy to thriving), and she is on the board of directors at Shield Your Faith (an apologetics ministry).

Laura and her husband of 21 years have one son who is in the 10th grade and homeschooled.

Laura is an INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, and enjoys helping people discover more about themselves, the Lord, and their purpose in life.

For more information and pictures of cute penguins 🐧, visit LauraZielke.com.
Posted on: June 20, 2017, by : Laura Zielke