July 1

Prayer:  Experiencing the power of God’s peace

       It is not enough to just talk about peace.  You need to feel it, experience it.  But how can you experience something that seems so hard to grasp, something that’s just a concept? 

       There is a way to practice the presence of God and to encourage the presence of peace in your life.  This section is not so much theoretical as it is practical.  In order to experience God’s peace you must do certain things in a certain way.  And it’s simple, but not easy.

       In every 12 step meeting I have ever attended, the members have always repeated the Serenity Prayer:  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

       This prayer is a request for three things; one of them is serenity.  I love the word “serenity.”  It conjures up visions of stillness, like the surface of a lake at sunrise, or a forest just after the rain.  Serenity is requested because it is the goal of every addict in recovery to experience serenity.  Is it something that God gives?  I think it is; but it requires a great deal of work on the part of the addict.

       Merely talking about peace doesn’t cause you to experience it.  Praying for it, and asking for it will.  However, if you ask for something and aren’t prepared to take action can you expect to receive anything from God?  I don’t think so.  Talk is cheap, and anyone can pretend to want something.  But it’s only the dedicated few who take action put feet on their prayers.

       There are some very practical things you can do to experience the reality of God’s peace.  Prayers can be repeated at any time of day, in any circumstance.  In fact, we are encouraged to “pray without ceasing.”  But there is a form of prayer that facilitates the peace of God. 

       First of all, you must find for yourself a quiet place, somewhere you can spend some time in solitude each day.  This place is used for prayer only.  To use a room that is normally used for activity or for sleep will not work.  You need a place that is associated with quiet, not the noisy bustle of activity.  This place will become a holy place where you come to experience one thing: God’s peace.

       The time of day is also important.  I recommend early morning, before the world has awakened.  But whatever time of day, it needs to be the same time each day.  Prayer has an element of ritual to it that would see you repeat your request at a certain time and in a certain place.  Maintaining a set place and time will foster consistency as you endeavor to establish this new and holy habit. 

       Simplicity is also necessary.  You need to keep what you say and do very simple.  Something complicated and involved will not foster peace.  It will only cause a great deal of mind chatter and disturbing thoughts.  This is the time of day when you can meditate with the utmost simplicity.  Reading a book of listening to the radio isn’t going to cut it.  Your time of prayer needs to be stripped bare of all distractions so that you can focus on one thing:  God’s voice.

       That’s right.  You are not only going to talk to God, you are going to listen.  And God’s still, small voice will be heard when you learn to be still and open.  Meditation is when you will hear God’s voice, not because God has decided to speak but because you have decided to listen.     

 Tomorrow’s topic – Prayer:  Hearing God’s voice