Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A prayer of preparation for Spirit Formation

One of my roles as managing editor of Wineskins is to prepare myself for each issue, to research the themes, to ready myself to be a holding tank out of which writers and thought can flow on to readers. That's literal in some sense. Sometimes I hold an article for up to two years till the time is right. I have stacks but you are always welcome to add a few centimeters to the stack. This is a humbling task, for I tell myself with each new issue that I don't know much about "Ethics" or "Spiritual Formation" or whatever the theme is.

In my inquiry into each theme, I focus the telescope on one part of the sky, then I notice another galaxy, then another. This makes laughable the thought that I have occasionally feared we'd run out of original themes to publish.

Living Gods LoveFor this issue I have attended a Spiritual Formation retreat, picked up various prayer books, and I'm reading various works on SF. Two that Leonard Allen gave out to everyone at the prayer retreat are J.H. Garrison's Alone with God and Gary Holloway's and Earl Lavender's Living God's Love.

By the way, Gary Holloway hosted the Spiritual Formation retreat, co-authored one book I've recommended, and edited J.H. Garrison's book. You'd think he was paying me Spiritual kickbacks. Joking aside, Gary is a person who I appreciate and love because he humbly seeks after God and is a genuine presence of God in my life and in lives of students at Lipscomb University in Nashville and beyond.

These are two books I highly recommend to you. We will be offering an excerpt from Living God's Love, a book that brings theology into focus without jargon for college-aged but also for those of us who want to discover God anew and truly "live in that love of God" daily.

Here is a prayer by J.H. Garrison, as we contemplate Spiritual Formation and receive God's invitation into His life:

You gracious Giver of all our gifts, how infinitely great and tender must be your love that has found expresion in the unnumbered mercies that have crowned our lives. Accept the gratitude of my heart, O loving Father, for giving me a place, humble though it may be, in your great family.

aloneHear me, while I plead for the Holy Spirit in larger measure, to enlighten, quicken, comfort and strengthen me in your service. Since we are assured by your well-beloved Son that you are willing to give your Holy Spirit to them that ask you, I would with the more boldness ask this great gift at your hand.

How much I need His presence within me,that I may be strong to resist evil, that the love of God may be shed abroad in my heart, that my life may be like a fruitful garden and that my character may be conformed to your divine will! O may the fruit of the Spirit abound in me, that I may be used of you in bringing others into fellowship with you. Forbid, O God, that I should grieve your Holy Spirit, by impure thoughts, unkind words, unrighteous acts, or by a life of careless indifference to the claims of religion.

Help me to remember that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and to keep it pure from all defilement. Through your Spirit transform me, O God, into the image of your Son, and finally fashion this mortal body into the likeness of Christ's glorious body, that where he is there I may be also. And this I ask in his precious name. Amen!

We welcome you to add your prayers here, to make requests for certain coverage on this theme of Spiritual Formation, or to give us resources to share with all of our readers.

2 comments:

Rick J said...

Wow! His beautifully crafted prayer has captured the almost daily desires of my heart more eloquently than I have ever framed them. Thank you, Greg, for sharing it with us.

Greg Newton said...

Prayers like this, ones beyond where we are, need to be prayed with our hearts open to receiving what we say but do not know. Assuming it is appropriate to mix disciplines - the practice of lectio with a prayer like this is perhaps one way of embracing it as a contemplative exercise rather than another request.

My words are too many and I speak what I do not know.