A Compelling Encounter with Jesus
Sunday’s lesson from the Gospel of Matthew tells of Jesus’ calling of the first disciples. It always amazes me how they just drop everything and follow Jesus. (Click here to read the lesson.)
One or two I could dismiss as just people so miserable in their lives that they were willing to try anything for a change. But all of them!?
When I have considered a major shift in my life — moving away from home, changing careers, getting married, seeking ordination, etc., much time, thought, prayer and conversation went into those decisions. I can’t imagine doing what those first disciples did.
Now it may well be that there was a little more conversation than Matthew records and in some cases it seems that the disciples were already aware of Jesus, at least by reputation.
Nonetheless, it is clear that there was something compelling about Jesus’ presence. So compelling that it overrode all the normal hesitations, questions and fears that would normally fill us.
We don’t get that face to face, in the flesh experience that the disciples did. But I do find that we can experience Jesus in the same compelling way. The thing is that it doesn’t come on our schedule or on request. In prayer, develop a deliberate pattern of opening yourself to God’s presence in your prayer. Here are a few random hints — not a formula, just some things that I and others have found that help.
Develop a consistent time for prayer that works for you and that you can manage nearly every day. It helps to have a consistent place (familiarity means less distractions). Some find the outdoors helpful, others need more quiet – find what works for you.
If you’re a singer, sing. If a reader, then have something devotional to read. Try some portion of the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer. There are lots of apps and websites to help you with this.
Have a pad and paper. Some like to journal their prayer time. Others not, but it helps to be able to write things down for attention later, so you can let them go for the moment.
Read a bit of Scripture, but don’t try to analyze or study it. Just read and let if flow over you. Try the Psalms for starters.
Finally, don’t judge yourself. There is no set amount of tie that is needed and don’t assume that you should have some emotional response. The life of prayer takes time and patience. But it does come, and the reward is more than just a centering point for your day, it is the opportunity to find that compelling Jesus in your life!
What do you let get in the way of your prayer life?
This column appeared in the January 22, 2023 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.