"It draws down the great God into the tiny heart."
~ Mechthild of Magdeburg
This is how the great Christian medieval mystic described the power of prayer. As we begin 2021, this year of great hope and challenge, I invite you to open your heart to the great power and promise of daily and nightly prayer. Nothing is more important than staying aligned with the fundamental joy, peace, passion and energy of compassion that is our essential divine nature.
Throughout my life, it has been my own deepest experience that prayer is how we learn and stay awake to who we truly are. It helps us stay alert to the nonstop grace streaming to us from the Divine.
I chose to present this first journey of the new year aligned with what so many spiritual traditions believe, that 40 days and 40 nights is the timespan that brings about transformation. In that spirit, I have designed what I am calling 40 Days & 40 Nights: A Prayer Journey for the Soul that encompasses that mystical time frame and engages its power.
This prayer journey will span the time of Lent, beginning this year on February 17th and ending on Easter, the time of the rapture of the Resurrection. Traditionally, Lent was a time of simplifying and purifying our lives, offering up our wounds, fears and traumas for healing, exposing our deepest shadows to transformative grace and emptying ourselves out, so that we might more fully recognize the truth of that grace.
As we begin to walk through what will undoubtedly be a year of great challenge, making ever greater demands on our spiritual stamina, beginning our year steeped in a practice of prayer will enable all of us to both experience the old sacred Christian process I have described and also build through the grace of prayer the strength and virtues we will need for the birth of a divine humanity, giving us the passion to adore the Divine and creation itself, the passion of compassion for every sentient being, the passion to pour ourselves out calmly and wisely in sacredly inspired action.
So while I am launching this prayer journey during this season of Lent, it is a journey that all sincere seekers can take at any time. Each day has two prayers—one in the morning and one in the evening. I suggest that you devote thirty minutes each morning and evening as follows:
• 10 minutes of silent meditation, clearing your spirit to receive the imprint of the prayer.
• 10 minutes of reading and re-reading the prayer, diving deeply and richly and with your whole experience and longing for truth into each holy word and phrase, making them your own. Be mindful of the profound feelings and emotions that the prayer stirs in you.
• In the last 10 minutes, pray the prayer focused and with calm intensity again and again.
Have a prayer journal ready before the journey begins, so that after this half-hour practice you can note whatever fears, aspirations or insights that come up. By the end of the 40 days and nights, you will have a deeply personal daily record of what happened that will serve you again and again, building your understanding of your own awakening as you continue your spiritual journey.
The prayers in the morning are most often prayers of celebration and joy and ecstatic opening to God.
The prayers in the evening are more interior and sometimes deeply challenging.
I recommend doing the evening prayers before bed and then offer your whole being to the Divine to instruct you in dreams. (When I do this, the Divine often sends me the most helpful and lucid dreams.)
At the end of this prayer journey, I will offer two optional integration sessions.
The first session, Dealing with the Dark, will engage the very holy work of learning the lessons our shadows have to teach us.
I'm calling the second session, Illuminations and Revelations, "a comprehensive workout for the evolving soul," as we work together to integrate the learnings of the past 40 days and nights.
I strongly recommend these two sessions because it is so helpful to share the feelings and insights you have experienced with others who have been on the same journey.
I love these sessions myself because I get to engage with you in a more focused, individual way. They remind me how many sincere and passionate seekers there are in this world and how deeply we need that most solitary connection with grace and with each other.
I hope you will join me on this great mystical prayer journey to "draw down the great God into the tiny heart" and fill our own hearts with divine love and grace.
See you soon,
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