EMBODIED: Christian Meditative Prayer Beads

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Mala prayer beads are very popular these days, not only among those who do yoga, but as a fashion trend. After I purchased my first mala, I began to research prayer beads and ropes from other religious traditions and eventually tore my mala apart to reconstruct it with Christian symbolism instead. Prayer beads or ropes are used across many spiritual traditions to help one pray. Traditional malas are used by Hindus and contain 108 beads. Rosaries are used within the Catholic tradition and contain 50 beads. Chotki are used within the Orthodox Christian tradition and contain 33, 50, 100, 150 or more prayer beads (or often knots instead of beads).

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Selah prayer beads are my own original, Christ-centered design for contemplative prayer beads. The word Selah is taken from the Book of Psalms. Hebrew scholars believe it is a musical term indicating a place of pause, reflection or a place to take a breath. Selah prayer necklaces are constructed with 100 beads, 10 of which are called Selah beads. These beads are meant to serve as stopping points, places for you to pause and reflect as you pray your way around the circular design of the necklace.

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EMBODIED: Praying with Play-Dough

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Hello Fellow Worshipers! Found this recipe for play-dough with essential oils at One Essential Community and thought I would share it with you. You can find full instructions with photos and essential oil blend ideas.

Playdough is a wonderful way to use the embodied sense of touch during prayer and meditation time. Add essential oils and we include the sense of smell. You can add the following scriptures to embody your prayer, meditation and Bible study time: Continue reading

Practicing the Presence of God through Creative Prayer Stations

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“Practicing the Presence” was created for a Healing Care Ministries seminar called The Essentials. The essence of this seminar to help those in caregiving ministries understand how to position people for lasting, healing change, particularly through engaging the right hemisphere of the brain through creative spiritual practices. “Practicing the Presence” was done each morning in lieu of traditional worship. Each day is spent focusing on one member of the Trinity with the following themes: Creator God, Christ our Royal Redeemer, and Holy Spirit, Flame of Love.

Included here are resources, coloring pages, accompanying scriptures and photographs so you can recreate this for your own church or ministry. Hand-outs are provided and can be used with permission by leaving the website and copyright information intact at the bottom of each page. Coloring pages were created by Pauline Mae Blankenship (©2018) for “Practicing the Presence,” and if you have The Creator’s Healing Power—Restoring the Broken to Beautifulyou will recognize these coloring pages from the book. She has graciously offered them for our use, and you will find links within each section below.

Each day we started in silence, which was broken with Lectio Divina. Then participants were released to explore creative prayer stations. Every day, one station included a cross with artwork to create a space where folks could kneel and pray, and another included the coloring pages at two large tables with coloring supplies:

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7 :: “Into your hands…”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 7

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46

 

M Durbin 2010 Into Your Hands

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Enough

Here I am, my son.

Your struggle is over.

It was near impossible

to keep from turning

toward your cries.

I felt each lash,

wailed as they

drove the nails.

I blacked out the sun

so as not to see

your suffering.

Come to me now,

let me bandage

your wounds. Drink

from the spring

and rinse clean, rinse

until the water

runs clear. This part

of the journey

is finished. Continue reading

7 :: “It is finished!”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Day 6

“It is finished!”  John 19:30

M Durbin 2010 Jesus

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

The Antique Rocking Chair

The carpenter is not disappointed

by the ruined finish or the broken arm,

loose spindles, failed glue joints.

He checks the chair for its rhythm,

rests carefully in its solid seat and tests

the sway, hums an ancient hymn,

feels the wind that wore away the finish,

drove the rain between the grains

and diminished the lacquered polish. Continue reading

7 :: “I am thirsty”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 5

Cup of Blessing

Cup of Blessing by Matt Durbin (C) 2011 http://www.mattdurbinart.com

“Later, knowing that
all was now completed,

and so that the
Scripture would be fulfilled,

Jesus said,
‘I am thirsty.’”

– John 19:28

Drink 

The fount of living water

bellows drought. I want

to lift a ladle, cold and pure,

so you could be relieved.

But I’m deceived with ease.

My cup is sour, dilute

the wine from dirty

cisterns. Nothing I

can offer satisfies.

Are you glad you chose

to filter septic water,

offer your body to be

my purifier? How I love you. Continue reading

Mirroring: You Know Me

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Attendees of Healing Care Ministries Essentials Seminar and HCM International Spiritual Direction Cohort often ask me for an outline of motions for a mirroring demonstration I do to the song “You Know Me” by Stephanie Gretzinger. I’ve been asked to videotape it but I hesitate because it is often a profound experience of the participant being felt and known by God. I feel videotaping is an intrusion of that experience.

Mirroring is done to face-to-face and is most powerful with high levels of attunement and empathy from the “minister” to the one being ministered to under the power of the Holy Spirit working through you. It is often used in Dance/Movement Therapy but I have found it to be a powerful tool in spiritual direction and in teaching embodied prayer.

Crotched Mt Continue reading

7 :: “My God, my God, why…?”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 4

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned (forsaken) me?”   Mark 15:34

M Durbin 2010 My God

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Fear

I taste the juice of forbidden fruit

dripping from Adam’s mouth.

And in my hand, the dagger

that killed Cain’s brother. My arms

are sore from building Babel.

Abraham’s fear rolls in my gut.

I cling to Sodom as it burns, connive

for the birthright at Isaac’s bedside,

stand by as my sons slaughter a city,

hear the roar of weeping women Continue reading

7 :: “Dear woman…”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 3

[Jesus] said to [Mary], “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.”  John 19:26

M Durbin 2010 Woman

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Mary at the Cross

I am not old. A bewildered mother

since conception who stored up

each moment. Now I will recall

the way you reached for me, a babe,

and only see your outstretched arms. Continue reading

7 :: “Today you will be with me…”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 2

“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23:43

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Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Breath

Jesus, why are you

up here

with me,             why

is our blood

mixing                with dirt,

why do our lungs

heave out                as if

we have

the same spirit

in us

begging          to be            set free?

Why do we          keep

breathing,

                                            each inhalation,

                                                                                 a gasp.

All           I want             to do

is breathe out

a final                time. Continue reading

“7” :: “Father, forgive them…”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 1

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

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Matt Durbin (c) 2014

 

The People Stood Watching

Come, see a man who told me everything

I ever did. A man who healed my eyes,

fed me bread he multiplied, poured my cup

of wine, washed my feet, called me out

onto the sea, cursed the unfruitful tree,

received my kiss on his way out of Gethsemane.

Come see a man who raised me from death,

beckoned for me from my tomb, knew me

in my mother’s womb. See him, how he saved me?

Let him save himself, if he is the chosen

one, the Son of God, of Man, a Nazarene.

Come draw lots with me—which piece

of clothing do you need?

~ Sarah M. Wells (C) 2010 Continue reading

Moving Creatively Through Lent

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Yesterday I posted information on a new series called EMBODIED that starts this Friday, February 16th and goes through Good Friday. Embodied is a 7 week-long exploration of postures of praise & prayer to help us move mindfully through the Lenten season. I will be posting one posture each week (on Friday) to take us through the season of Lent.

In addition, to further help us move through Lent creatively, I will also be posting from the previously featured  “7” Virtual Art-Walk series each week on Wednesdays throughout Lent, as well as reflections from our church’s Lenten sermon series on Monday of each week. The 7 Virtual Art-Walk includes the artwork of Matt Durbin, the poetry of Sarah Wells, and music that all focus on the last 7 words of Christ spoken from the cross. And our church (5 Stones Community Church) will be working with passages throughout Ephesians to help us prayerfully remember and reflect on Jesus during this season. Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

jodythomae.com

In Luke 10, when the lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, he asked him how to inherit eternal life. Like a learned rabbi, Jesus turned the question back to the lawyer, who answered:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus confirmed his answer as true, with a command and a promise: “Do this and you will live.”

When I teach on embodied prayer and worshiping with your whole self (including the often-excluded body), I am often asked where to begin. “EMBODIED” — a 7 day exploration of postures of prayer and praise — is designed as a starting (or restarting point) for those wanting to engage their bodies in prayer and worship.

  • Perhaps you have never used your body to pray or worship?
  • Or perhaps you’ve danced like David before the Lord and are looking for a new way to explore the movement of worship that flows freely from your sinew and bones?
  • Or perhaps you’re looking for an embodied way to spend an intentional week of prayer and worship before the Lord?

Whatever your reason, I’m glad you’re here. Continue reading

“Empty Me” Embodied Prayer

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Many have asked for the motions to “Empty Me” — a circle dance / embodied prayer I lead at retreats and workshops. It is prayed / danced to the song “Empty Me” by Jeremy Camp, a BEaUtiful song about surrendering our selves in order to be filled with his life-giving Spirit. Participants stand (or sit) in a circle facing one another. The motions are simple and repetitive. Participants always remark how powerful this simple movement prayer to music is.

dance-circle-girls Continue reading

Returning to Center: an Embodied Prayer

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embpryretThis is an embodied prayer I created for the Art of Spiritual Direction retreats at which I teach. It is based on the Lakota Native American Four Directions Prayer.

Participants stand in a circle, facing center, where a large cross is placed. You can also Create a Sacred Space like the one pictured at right and use that as your central focal point.

Featured above is a picture from a YogaFaith training where a beautiful pool of water was our focal point. Serendipitously, we ended up with our hands on both of our neighbors shoulders (at the part of the prayer where we prayer for the person on our left and right). It became a powerful symbolic action of unity and solidarity of purpose.

Returning to Center: Embodied Scripture Prayer

Facing Center, we look to Christ Our Center and read from Luke 4: 

Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah),
Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy),
to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the favor of God abound greatly].”

Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all those in the synagogue were attentively fixed on Him.

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Poetry as Prayer

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Poetry, both writing and reading, is a wonderfully creative avenue of prayer.

On a beautiful day this past summer, I lay in the hammock behind our lake cabin. As I lay there, held between these two magnificent white pines, I felt held by both the strong, masculine arms of God AND the gentle, feminine arms of God. My poem of prayer featured on ALTARWORK expresses the prayer that developed as I let myself be held by Father-Mother God.

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“Hammock View” ||  Read my Poem of Prayer at: http://www.altarwork.com/hammock-view

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #219 — ADVENTure Prayer Walk

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I originally posted this in 2015 as a creative resource for Advent. I wanted to post it here as well as a Creative Spiritual Practice. ADVENTure is a creative and interactive prayer walk to contemplate the reason for the season. Designed to accompany the four weeks of the Advent season, each weekly devotional includes a focus on a “character” of the CHRISTmas story, as well as instructions for a creative or sensory experiential to accompany the meditation. This can be done within a church, ministry, small group, or family context. Kid-friendly and engaging.
This post includes links to all five devotionals and instructions to assist you. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.
Merry CHRISTmas, Jody

Nurturing the Creative Spirit Within

Advent BabyJesus strawADVENTure is a self-directed prayer walk we did several times at church on our college campus. It includes scriptures and short meditations combined with an activity at each prayer station designed to help ponder the true meaning of Christmas.

The church is set up with four candles around the outside of the room to represent a traditional Advent wreath. Another candle is positioned in the middle of the room to represent the Christ candle. These candles become the prayer stations where there are scripture meditations and supplies for an activity associated with each scripture passage.

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Creating a Sacred Space: Preparing an Altar of Remembrance

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Hebrew: Mizbeach מִזְבֵּ֫חַ

An altar or place of sacrifice

In the Old Testament, agreements were sometimes ratified through the building of altars.

Throughout scripture we find the people of God creating sacred spaces, from piles of rocks to a Tabernacle and a Temple. And they all have one thing in common—they are places where people encounter God. The altars were built to serve as a remembrance of their encounter with God and his faithfulness in their lives. Altars were built by Noah (Gen 8:20); Abraham at Shechem, Hebron, Moriah and Bethel (which means: house of God) (Gen 12:7-8, 13:18, 22:9); Isaac (Gen 26:25); Jacob at Shechem and Bethel (Gen 33:20, 35:7); Moses (Ex 17:15, 24:4); Joshua (Josh 8:30, 24:25-27); Samuel (I Sam 7:12) and many others. As you study these scriptures, note the encounter with God that each person had.

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Two noteworthy stories:

1) When the Israelites crossed the River Jordan, each tribe was instructed to take one stone from the river bed and they used those stones to create an altar to the Lord. Joshua also created an altar in the river bed itself:

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” Continue reading