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If my people, who are called by my Name, humble themselves and pray (Part One)

The text, for those who have trouble with a rather individual cursive, reads as follows: Scandal after Scandal. No institution safe....

Saturday, 20 July 2013

When you can't sleep - Pray!

Here in the humid, hot conditions of the UK,  it can be hard to sleep at night (it's not always like this!). Have you ever noticed that you often begin to doze off when praying? There are all sorts of reasons including genuine tiredness, but the Enemy hates us to pray. This can be put to good effect - really.

One the one hand, God sometimes wakes us up to pray and intercede in the quiet of the night. Often, such times of prayer accomplish great things as  we respond to a specific urging of the Holy Spirit. I recall such a time at Bible College. It had to be supernatural as we had a very full schedule and needed all the sleep we could get. It resulted in my call to the West Midlands and my staying here rather than returning to the Durham Dale where I was born and bred or going elsewhere.

On the other hand, what if you simply can't sleep? We need to quiet the mind. Prayer can be a good way of stopping the incessant internal dialogue that keeps us awake. And anyway, He gives His Beloved sleep.

So once the intercession is over and you really need to sleep, what can you do? 

Something that has migrated over from our Eastern Orthodox brethren is the 'Jesus Prayer'. Like Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, in his book 'The Essence of Prayer', I am going to keep this simple. There are those who go much further with breathing techniques etc. All are clearly influenced by the practices of Sufis and other such Eastern mystics. They all come with a spiritual health warning which Anthony Bloom repeats.

The prayer itself is quite simple:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God; Have Mercy on me, a sinner.

It is intended, not to be mindlessly repeated, that would be vain repetition, but with full attention and concentration on the meaning of the words. The word 'Mercy' in Greek is related to 'Oil' , so one is asking for the Holy Spirit, for relationship, for love. However, this is not so obvious in English. To our ears it sounds like a constant petition for forgiveness without any real hope or assurance.

I started to alter the formula for various reasons. Firstly, I am well aware of the reasons for the spiritual health warning when involved in meditation and contemplation. I wanted to focus upon the One, True God and not just any spirit making that claim.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God; etc.

Then as the good, little (metaphorically speaking) Protestant that I am, I realised that Mercy had already been obtained.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God; You have had Mercy upon me a sinner.

I had now moved from petition to proclamation.Then I realised that I should be thankful.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God; Thank You for Your Mercy upon me a sinner.

I have now moved from proclamation to praise and to Presence. As a forgiven sinner the veil is rent and I can enter the presence of God in relationship with Him as an adopted Son, or as the Bride of Christ or as a companion of and one anointed by the Holy Spirit. Which brings us full circle.

Prayer, petition, proclamation, praise and Presence. All enjoined upon us by Jesus.

Now as the prayer is repeated (mindfully), the one praying will move through all these stages and move into worship or fall asleep.

Should you fall asleep, you fall asleep with your mind fixed on Jesus. It will positively affect your dreams and your sleep.

It's a win-win situation.

It works for me and I pray that it will work for you. 

Every blessing in Jesus.

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