Powerful prayers This month's Powerful Prayer comes from St. Benedict. He was the creator of what become Western Monasticism living between 480 and 543 AD. The "Rule" that Benedict created, became a way of life and living not just for monks, but for common people as well.

In His Rule, Benedict sought to create a lifestyle that incorporated worship, service and community. Benedict saw the life of Christ as best formed in the context of relationships, not isolation. So, faith then, was to be a shared experience, not a solo gig!

This month's prayer is a long one, so I would encourage you to read it slowly, and perhaps to meditate on each of the prayers stanzas each day. A stanza a day so to speak. That would give you some great prayer and meditation time this month!

Monty
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Rule O Lord,

I place myself in Your hands and dedicate myself to You.

I pledge myself to do Your will in all things:
To love the Lord God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength.

Not to kill, not to steal not to covet, not to bear false witness, to honor all persons.
Not to do to another what I should not want done to myself.
Not to seek after pleasures.

To love fasting.
To relieve the poor.
To clothe the naked.
To visit the sick.

To bury the dead.
To help those in trouble.
To console the sorrowing.
To hold myself aloof from worldly ways.
To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

Not to give way to anger.
Not to foster a desire for revenge.
Not to entertain deceit in the heart.
Not to make a false peace.

Not to forsake charity.
Not to swear, lest I swear falsely.
To speak the truth with heart and tongue.
Not to return evil for evil

To do no injury, indeed, even to bear patiently any injury done to me.
To love my enemies.
Not to curse those who curse me but rather to bless them.
To bear persecution for justice's sake.

Not to be proud.
Not to be given to intoxicating drink.
Not to be an overeater.
Not to be lazy.
Not to be slothful
Not to be a detractor.

To put my trust in God.
To refer the good I see in myself to God.
To refer any evil I see in myself to myself
To fear the day of judgment.
To be in dread of hell.

To desire eternal life with spiritual longing.
To keep death before my eyes daily.
To keep constant watch over my actions.
To remember that God sees me everywhere.

To call upon Christ for defense against evil thoughts that arise in my heart.
To guard my tongue against wicked speech.
To avoid much speaking.
To avoid idle talk.

Not to seek to appear clever.
To read only what is good to read.
To pray often.
To ask forgiveness daily for my sins, and to seek ways to amend my life.

To obey my superiors in all things rightful.
Not to desire to be thought holy, but to seek holiness.
To fulfill the commandments of God by good works.

To love chastity.
To hate no one.
Not be jealous or envious of anyone.
Not to love strife.
Not to love pride.

To honor the aged.
To pray for my enemies.
To make peace after a quarrel, before the setting of the sun.
Never to despair of your mercy, O God of mercy.
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Monty's Rumination

There is much to ponder with this prayer. It
is hard to escape the heartbeat of Jesus that pulsates through
Benedict's prayer. As I read and prayed through this prayer myself,
there were some meditative words that were illuminated for me. Here is
what came to my mind with some ruminations…

1. Devotion:

Life starts with and is culminated in God. When we believe we are
separate from this reality is when life lacks the beauty and purpose
and divine support we long for. Benedict started out with devotion to
God, not for what he could get from God, but because God simply is.

2. Others-centeredness:

The Big 10 (commandments) are all about our relationship with and
towards God and other people. To be a God-pursuer, we must also be
people pursuers. In this prayer, as in the core truth of the Bible, we
find that we desperately need a heart change to be "others-oriented."
When we begin to live out the reality that our lives are interconnected
because of God, and that God dwells in those who choose Him, then we
honor God as we love and honor each other.

3. Grace:

The rarest of commodities in a performance based world. Grace is a gift
that is unearned…an extension of love to someone not deserving…a
sliver of divinity in the plains of desolation. Without grace, life
would be a contractual game of tit for tat…someone always loses in
this game. But with God's grace, you always win, even when you don't
deserve it. Because God dwells within you, you are now able to be a
channel of Divine grace to others…especially the ones who don't
deserve it. As you grow in grace, you will know that your life is being
submerged in God.

4. Integrity:

To live out our
beliefs in real time. To begin the morphing of our outward life with
our inner soul. To realize that in Christ's love we no longer have to
pretend to be someone we aren't. When we live as posers to our true
self, with live a disintegrated life and we are often stressed out,
depressed, discouraged and disillusioned, and often don't know why.
When we embrace Christ who loves us as we are, not as we should be (as
Brennan Manning says) we are finally able to bring those shadow parts
of our lives into the light where God can heal, restore and reintegrate
us towards wholeness.

5. Paradox:

Ah paradox. This
is to live life in divine-tension. To embrace the way of Jesus where I
love those who don't love me…where I pray for those who plot against
me…where I give away what I don't have…where I find energy when my
tank is empty…when I heal others when I am broken…paradox is
choosing to follow God when we loose the way.

6. Humility:

Humility is knowing who you are. Your strengths and your weakness, and
allowing God to lead you in both of these realities. In your strength,
you don't need to show the world that you are strong, you can allow
others to be strong, to receive the spotlight. You release the need to
be right or justified…those needs come from your weakness, or
uncertainty of who you are. In your weakness, humility is seen in
honesty and authenticity. In being able to be helped and part of
community. As Paul said, "We should think of others more highly than
ourselves." An others-centric heart will pave the road for humility to
grow, and humility is the gateway to a God-infused life.

7. Service:

It seems all these thoughts are interconnected and build upon each
other. Worship at it's most powerful pinnacle is seen when we serve
each other. For Jesus it was…when you feed a hungry person, clothe
someone without clothing…visit someone in prison…and pour out water
for the thirsty, you are doing that -to- and -for- me. It amazes me how
God continually loves all people through people. We best serve God when
we love each other.

8. Surrender:

Pause…this is
huge. This word is so needed in our hearts and souls, yet so elusive.
To surrender is almost an anti-American statement. We thrive on phrases
like "Never Surrender" right? But with God, the pathway to success
begins on the trail of surrender…not to the powers around us, but to
God. To trust that no matter where we are, or what we are facing, that
we are not abandoned. That the good that comes to us is as beneficial
as the bad we encounter, and that God allows events and circumstances
into our lives to grow us, mold us, morph us, and refine us. The root
of surrendered life is a heart that can trust, but trust is hard to
come by in a world of broken promises and dreams. The most beautiful
picture of trust is Christ upon the cross, at that most painful and
intense moment of His life crying out, "Abba, into Your hands I commit
My Spirit." In otherwords…Abba, this hurts, I don't get it, but I
will move beyond the "why's" of life and simply lay all of who I am
into your hands…I trust you. Now that is surrender.

9. Sovereignty:

Benedict gets back to this thought over and over again in his prayer.
Sovereignty is the truth that God is God and I am not. We tend to live
most of our lives as if we were God. We are control freaks and meddlers
of affairs πŸ™‚ Since God is, I have found that I don't need to be His
defense attorney when life is hard or doesn't make sense. I also have
found that I don't always need to "fix" things or people, in fact I
can't, only God can because He is sovereign. Sovereignty is the most
under-taught concept today, and radically needed. When I make myself or
someone else God…guess what happens? You got it, tension, anxiety,
pain, confusion and a gutting of my energy. Allowing God to be God
reminds me that there is help and hope, because it is not based on me
or my performance…phew, I am thankful for God's sovereignty.

10. Vigilance:

Vigilance comes out of the depths of our soul when we truly long and
desire to know and experience God. We become "hem grabbers." Like the
woman who reached through the packed streets to touch the hem of Jesus'
robe to receive healing, we know that the best place to be is holding
onto Christ with a tenacious grip that says "I will never let go!"
Vigilance reminds me that even when something seems to be done or dead,
God is the God of resurrection, and nothing is beyond His ability to
infuse with new life and hope. Vigilance makes sure the next candle is
ready before the current candle burns out. Vigilance trusts in the
sovereignty and grace of God creating a heart that trusts…so don't
give up!

11. Wisdom:

In the Proverbs, wisdom is
personified, and becomes something that is so highly valued that we
should do absolutely anything to gain her! Wisdom is the ability to
meditate and become proactive people. The opposite of wisdom is
reaction without meditation. We live in a reactionary world. This is
why we have so many wars, collapsing economies, and disintegrating
communities. We react when we should respond. Reactions are generally
not full of wisdom, but raw emotion, and we all know that emotions are
not always based on a full picture of reality. Godly wisdom comes from
reflection, prayer, meditation and the counsel of friends and God.

12. Forgiveness:

What a way to end eh?! Forgiveness happens when we begin to integrate
all the words that I have just ruminated through. First, forgiveness is
a choice, but later it becomes a state of being as you allow God to do
in you what only the love and person of Christ can do. To forgive is to
release your offender. You have them dead to rights, but you release
them…forgiveness is the actual practice of grace, or the fruit of it.
Forgiveness is never easy, but almost impossible towards those who have
truly wounded us or someone we love…but forgiveness is also the most
transforming agent in the Divine arsenal. Ask God today to help you
forgive…then you will experience a level of God-reality like you have
never known!

Have an incredible day…keep praying, it truly works.

Monty


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