Setting: Your personal and private space
Place: Study room, bedroom, living room, terrace, etc. (wherever there is no external disturbance). If in a room, door may be closed to avoid any disturbance.
Ambience: Well-lit, ventilated and not cluttered. The room must not have any strong odors to distract your attention.
Seating: Ideally, seated cross-legged on the floor on a comfortable mat, durrie, carpet or mattress. Sofa is also good. Back in a comfortable position and hands rested on your legs.
Second option: Seated, legs stretched out on the floor on a comfortable mat/dhurie/carpet/mattress. You may like to lean your back against a wall, or any other supportive surface. Back in a comfortable position and hands rested on your legs.
Third option: Seated on a comfortable chair/sofa. Back in a comfortable position and hands rested on your legs.
Time duration: 60 minutes
PREPARATION (3 minutes): Bring yourself to stillness. The idea is to bring your mind, body and spirit into quiet calm. Importantly, know that you are retreating from a busy world into God’s presence. You quieten yourself before you invoke the presence of God. The setting is not that God is waiting for you and you rush into his presence breathless and mind all cluttered. Helpful to recall: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). You may like to listen to a soft instrumental rendering of the song: “Be still and know” by Hillsong. Songs are advised only if necessary.
INVOCATION (2 MINUTES): When you are still, invite God, call upon Him to receive you into His presence. To grant the favour of His presence. To give you the gift of His fellowship and communion to you. Like, you have set the place to receive the most important guest and have a great conversation and ‘meal’ with Him. (Only that He is not a Guest but the Lord of your life who desires to have an intimate relationship with you.) Ask for Holy Spirit to guide you (Luke 11:33).
MEDITATIVE PRAYER (15 minutes): Pray the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2-4) slowly deliberately and intentionally. At least two times. Four times is not uncommon. Normally, it takes 25-30 seconds to say the Lord’s Prayer in English. The second time slow it down to say it in 60 seconds. You can do this by pausing after each phrase. Like, “Our Father in heaven . . . pause . . . hallowed be your name . . . pause . . . your kingdom come . . . pause . . .” The third time if you want to increase it to 90-120 seconds, pause between each word.
The purpose of slowing down is to reflect on the meaning of the words of the prayer. Once you have slowed down to saying it word by word, you are ready to ‘meditate’ on the meaning and significance of the word. For example:
“Our”: Meaning: God is the Father of my spouse, my children and me. Significance: It is a corporate prayer, includes others, my relationships with Him is personal but not without others.
“Father”: Meaning: God wants me to address His as my Father. Significance: I am His child. I can be open and free with Him.
“in heaven”: Meaning: Heavenly Father, not earthly. Significance: Heavenly Father is loving, holy and faithful (many times earthly fathers do not measure up and are stumbling blocks for prayer).
Variations: Other suggested passages for this slot are:
A Prayer of Repentance: Psalm 51
The Song of Mary: Luke 1:46-55; It may take more than 15 minutes
The Song of Moses: Exodus 15: 1-17; You may like to divide it into parts: Exodus 15:1-5; 15:6-13; 15:14-17 and do one part each day.
MEDITATING ON BIBLE PASSAGE (20 minutes): Listen to what God is saying, conveying, feeling . . .
Here you can read the passage slowly and absorb the love, goodness and greatness of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is not a cognitive study of the scripture but receiving the love, mercy and grace of God. It is more about knowing (experiencing) God than knowing (knowledge) about God. Therefore, it is not a suspension of our mind but transformation of the same in the whole experience.
The passages are read slowly, reflectively and measuredly as illustrated with the Lord’s Prayer.
The Lord the Shepherd of His People: Psalm 23
David’s Praise to God: 1 Chronicles 29:10-15
Blessing and Suffering of the Godly: Psalm 41
Desiring God in the Midst of Trouble: Psalm 42
PRAYER: Respond to God based on what you have ‘heard’, felt and ‘received’ in meditation (10 minutes): You may like to kneel, stand or sit with your head bowed down.
Allow the Holy Spirit to prompt you to respond to what you have heard, felt and received from God. Utter – saying spontaneously, say it from the heart – your feelings and thoughts. Need not necessarily be a rush of words. They can be “groanings” (Romans 8:26). There could be just silences and pauses but they are with the Lord. The withness is important.
HYSECHASTIC PRAYER OR JESUS PRAYER OR THE PRAYER (5 minutes): “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.”
Say this prayer repetitively, slowly, intentionally and meaningfully. As you say it mean every word of it and let the promptings of the Holy Spirit bring meaning and substance out of it. Slowly, let the prayer sink from the mind to the heart. Let it become your heart beat. Then it can become your “unceasing prayer” through the day and night and even sleep.
Say the hesychastic prayer sitting. A variation could be four postures:
When you say, “Lord Jesus Christ”: Look up, lift your hands to heaven in an adoration mode
When you say, “Son of God”: Bow your head, bring your hands down to shoulder level, with your palms facing ground in a worship mode or hands together in a ‘namasthe’ posture.
When you say, “Have mercy on me”: Bow from your waist with folded hands.
CLOSING MOMENTS (5 minutes): Make it a spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving, praise, petitions and intercession.