Sunday, April 7

Spending the day with Jesus

If you haven't read Life without Lack by Dallas Willard, Chapter 8 is about spending a day with Jesus. And in it's most basic form, Dallas means 'to take ten minutes or so every two to three hours during the day to lift your heart and mind to God in praise, thanksgiving, and sharing the concerns on your heart.'

I tried this a number of times before it worked for me, at least five. I gave it up for most of a year. But then I had the chance to try it again and something clicked and I'm on a 38-day streak. :-)

I basically just re-read this section of Dallas's book every day and think and pray through it.

My selections from LwL below are somewhat random. If it's not a quotation, it's probably a paraphrase. I share these with you in case they might help you. Otherwise, please mark and make your own guidelines.

Rest in Faith
As you retire to bed, commit to meet with God first thing when you wake, and go over in your mind how that will be. This is a wonderful way to fall asleep in prayer. You can also use the simple prayers of childhood, the Lord’s Prayer, or Psalm 23 to lead you into restful sleep. Whatever you choose, let it include this simple prayer of faith: “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Ps. 4:8). If you approach the evening in this way, you will awaken with great anticipation of your day with Jesus.
The Day Dawns: Rising with Praise, Petition, and Planning

Praise

'Thank you, God, for this new day. Thank you for this new beginning.'

'Seek seclusion, and if you are able, kneel for five or ten minutes and welcome the presence of Jesus. You may not think it will make any difference to kneel when you pray, but try it anyway. Then consider the difference it may have made.'

Lord God, I give my day to you. Please be with me each moment.

--I have been praying through Mt 11.28-30 here. 'Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden and labor and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'

Petition: Casting Your Cares on Him

'Having risen in praise and thankfulness, then you pray for yourself, for the people in your life, and for the things you are facing that day.'

Lord, part of the reason for spending the day with You is to depend on You. Through this practice, I am depending on you. Please help me to depend on You. I need You and I want to see You doing more in my life than I can.

'And the effects of your efforts will be vastly greater than what could result from your abilities alone.' Who Is Your Teacher?

Please remove all fear from my life and fill me with Your love for my life and all that enters it. Please help me to love the life You have given me. Help Your love come through me to everything I deal with today. Help me to carry You through my day in this way.'

'If you have specific concerns, call them out, lay them before the Lord, and submit them to his care.'

'Cast “all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).'

Lord Jesus, please give me the faith, death to self, and love that make Your Shepherd’s sufficiency my own.
Remember, these are the marks of Jesus himself. To be with him is to become like him. His life is contagious among those who are susceptible to it, who desire it. Let him know that you want to be infected! Pray, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!” It is truly an expression of the heart of Jesus.
Lord, please help me to become like You by spending my days with You. I want to be infected and infectious.

Planning: When Will I See You Again?

We must plan times through the day to turn our minds to God.

Lord Jesus, I turn my mind back to You.

'I would suggest planning to take ten minutes or so every two to three hours during the day to lift your heart and mind to God in praise, thanksgiving, and sharing the concerns on your heart.'

--I tried coming up with my own hours based on the monastic hours of prayer. But I eventually switched to just having an alarm on my phone labeled 'Spending the day with Jesus', and I just set if for the next good time that's 2-3 hours away. This has worked for me pretty well. Functionally, my times are basically: 7:30, 11:15, 2:30, 5:15, 8:30, 11:15.

--When my schedule is a little bit open and there's a choice between starting the next thing that might run into my next session or just starting the next session early, the latter has worked best for me.

--I typically use Scripture to 'lift my heart and mind to God in praise. Some obvious chapters are Phil 2, Eph 1, Ps 8 and Ps 46. Lately, I have been going through my list of Songs from the Psalms at the rate of one per day and reviewing it multiple times.

Honing Holy Habits

Each session may consists of:
  • Lord Jesus, I turn my mind back to You.
  • Praise and Thanksgiving
  • (Confession earlier in the day instead of just during day-end assessment)
  • Petition and Prayer -- esp. for coming people, events, activities and tasks
  • Planning -- next meeting
--I have been revisiting Mt 11.28-30 here.

I am going to rely on You to realize Your presence with me as the day proceeds. I want you to do more in the lives of my neighbors and me than I can do by myself specifically as I give up what I want and join You in what You want, especially Your 'loving purposes'. I thank You in advance for what will come.

--If you feel like you run out of things to do in these times, you can also try:
  • Going outside and looking at the beauty of a flower or the magnificence of the sky.
  • Listening to beautiful music.
  • Bringing to mind the Lord’s Prayer, an image of the cross, or simply a thought of the Father who is over all.
  • Re-reading the Closing Prayer and the Appendices
  • Reading Scripture
  • Reviewing memorized Scripture (a favorite discipline for Dallas)
  • Re-reading Life without Lack
  • Reading the rest of Andrew Murray's Humility (which Appendix B is one chapter of)
  • Reading The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence or The Game with Minutes by Frank Laubach
  • Journaling
The Day Unfolds

Lord, help me to move beyond wanting things to go smoothly to wanting Your will to be done.

I invite You into my situations and interactions. Please accomplish God's loving purposes in them. Thank You.

Psalm 33:13–22 (adapted from the ESV)
13 Lord, You look down from heaven;
    You see all the children of man;
14 from where You sit enthroned You look out
    on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 You who fashions the hearts of us all
    and observes all our deeds.

     Lord, You know who hopes and trusts in You and who fears You so You can deliver us.

16 The king is not saved by his great army;
    a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
    and by its great might it cannot rescue.

     Lord, we confess that the power of this world will not save us.

18 Lord, your eye is on those who fear You,
    on those who hope in Your steadfast love,
19 that You may deliver our souls from death
    and keep us alive in famine.

     'The eyes of the Lord search throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.' 2 Chr 16.9
     'Hi eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.'
     We hope in your power to save us and provide for us as our Shepherd.

20 Our soul waits for You, Lord;
    You are our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in You,
    because we trust in Your holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in You.

'You can consciously will the peace, joy and confidence that you are experiencing to pass from you like 'living waters' to those with whom you are interacting.'

Lord, please help me to learn to pray and bless each time the people, events, tasks and activities in my life change...

'so that mere change becomes a signal to turn your mind back to God. Do this and you will shortly master the secrets of praying without ceasing.'

--I conclude that Dallas did this and mastered it.

Lord, please help me and others to notice very positive differences in me for my encouragement and Your glory.

When I get to take a nap, I generally include thanks at the beginning and then review memorized Scripture verses until I fall asleep and count that as a session. :-)

The Day Concludes . . . with Grace-Drenched Reflection

Lord, please help me to understand and do better tomorrow.

Lord, please help me to become Your vision of me.

'Lord, I need help with this. Please forgive me.'

Thank You for being such a good friend.

'This time of reflection should also include thanksgiving for all the ways the day went well.'

A New Day Begins, and a New Life

Good Shepherd, please help me to better understand the the sweetness of walking with You in Your sufficiency.

'As you practice living your days in the sufficiency of the Good Shepherd, you will make tremendous progress in experiencing the Psalm 23 life that Christ came to provide.'

--Here's a prayer Dallas used to pray for people. I think this version is a little more polished than the version in LwL.

'My prayer for you is that you would have a rich life of joy and power, abundant in supernatural results, with a constant, clear vision of never-ending life in God's world before you, and of the everlasting significance of your work day by day, a radiant life and death'

--Here's a version you can pray for yourself:

Lord, please give me a rich life of joy and power, abundant in supernatural results.
     (Where You do more in and through me than I could do by myself, especially as I join You in Your work.)
Please give me a constant, clear vision of never-ending life in Your world before me,
     (I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God's great universe.
     And I will not taste death!)
a clear vision of the everlasting significance of my work day by day,
     (Especially to carry Your love to my co-workers and customers.)
a radiant life and death.

Lord, please fill me with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
please help me to walk worthy of You, fully pleasing You, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of You;
please strengthen me with all might, according to Your glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;
I thank You, Father, that You have qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the
light. (Col. 1:9–12 adapted)
     This inheritance starts now and is such Good News that it's unbelievable except that You have said it. We thank You and praise You!

My (not Dallas's) final thoughts

Something I wondered about: does Dallas differentiate between addressing God and addressing Jesus and spending the day with Them? I haven't detected any noticeable difference in his usage.

A big part of the positive result for me of spending the day with Jesus is simply a higher baseline of well being including peace, joy and confidence. For example, I still fell defensive, but not as much. If someone says something that I might feel defensive about, I can shake it off more easily. My baseline level of anxiety has gone down.

If you made it this far, you might be interested in my adaptation of Psalm 23 in iambic octameter: My Shepherd, an adaptation of Psalm 23. You might also be interested in my version of Psalm 16 with specific comments on God's presence and spending the day with Jesus: Psalm 16 for Spending the day with Jesus.

Saturday, April 6

Psalm 16 for Spending the day with Jesus

Lately, I have been focusing on spending the day with Jesus as discussed in Dallas Willard's Life without Lack. Since spending the day with Jesus is to a great degree about being in His presence, in the tradition of Brother Lawrence (Practicing the Presence of God) and Frank Laubach (The Game with Minutes), here are some notes on Psalm 16 with a focus on God's presence. (For additional notes on Psalm 16, see my earlier post Praying Psalm 16 (and a couple of other notes).)

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge
-'in You', that is 'Your presence'

I confess that You are the Lord. I have no good apart from you.
-apart from Your presence

Please help me to delight in the saints.

I confess that my sorrows multiply when I run after other gods. Please help me not to pour out their drink offerings of blood or take their names on my lips

Lord, I have chosen the portion that you have chosen for me.

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.
-especially in You and Your Kingdom
(To what extent is 'the Kingdom' Your presence?
'The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'
In other words: 'I am here.'

Bless You, Lord. Thank you that You counsel me and my heart instructs me at night.
-I think there's presence here, too (but it could be a stretch ;-) )

I have set the Lord always before me; when You are at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
-Now this is about presence! Setting the Lord before me and Him at my right hand are being in His presence.

Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices, my flesh also dwells secure.
-My heart is glad and my whole being rejoices in God's presence.
(In the OT especially, the normal experience of salvation includes physical safety, though it is not universal.
In the same way, the normal experience of salvation in the NT brings persecutions for Christ's sake.)

Thank You that You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

God, You make known to me the Path of life, which is Jesus and is in Jesus.
-Jesus said He is the Way. And part of that is His presence, walking with Him, following Him.

In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
-Your presence, Lord, is when I put You at my right hand and You put me at Your right hand and I stay (remain) there.