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Skeptical

This week, Upper Room Daily Reflections features excerpts from One Breath at a Time by J. Dana Trent.

Today’s Reflection

I’M NOT SKEPTICAL about the entirety of spiritual practices—just the ones in which I’m supposed to sit completely still with my phone beside me to calm my traumatized mind and listen for God. I can pray and journal until the end times—my brain spinning plates like an overachieving carnival worker. But I’ve always doubted my ability to sustain a sitting-still, ears-open meditation practice, which is different from writing and praying. How do people use [meditation] apps without launching into a silent monologue in which a very bored God is the sole audience member? How do I sit and actually listen, instead of hopping from topic to topic and prattling away in my mind? And, most importantly, how do I do it every day?

—J. Dana Trent
One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation

From page 12 of One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation by J. Dana Trent. Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What are your daily habits? Is being still one of them? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Better is a handful with quiet than two handfuls with toil…
—Ecclesiastes 4:6, NRSV

This Week: Give thanks to God for giving you the breath of life. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

Practice seeing blessings all around you! Upper Room Books author Beth A. Richardson invites us to practice the Celtic way of seeing God in everyday life. Receive 20% off of the eCourse Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Jill January 16, 2019, 3:44 am

    My time in the morning is essential. Sitting quietly, praying, reading Scripture, stopping by here to share some thoughts and prayer. I try to be intentional before my evening meal – more than just a quick prayer of thanks, but a longer pause, praying over the day, almost like the examen.
    Grateful for an early evening last night and replenishing sleep. Grateful for a break in colder than usual temperatures. Haven’t ran outside since Sunday morning due to the cold – but will venture out this morning as it is 31 degrees.

  • robert moeller January 16, 2019, 7:18 am

    I can make my body still, not moving, but of course even then there is movement within me. Making my mind still is a more difficult task. Trying not to think of anything is extremely difficult. Thinking of God is easier, but often there are distractions. Need to make a commitment, start, and keep trying.

    At the pastor’s urging I read John Wesley’s sermon #39 “The Cathoiic Spirit”.
    Wesley advocates for being of the same heart as fellow Christians. t doesn’t mean we are the same in every way nor does it advocate for them to change to our way of thinking or we to their way of thinking, just be of the same heart.

    I think there is a sense of the “catholic spirit” here at the UR.It is a great blessing.

  • David Arnold January 16, 2019, 7:22 am

    God is never bored, especially when you speak to him from the heart. The busy-ness of today’s frenetic world lends itself to less and less time for quite reflection. Making time for stillness, and implementing these practices, allows reconnection with spirit and self.

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling January 16, 2019, 7:37 am

      Welcome David!

      I enjoy being still, reflecting on God’s love and His goodness, etc.

      Prayers for all UR friends and may we not be skeptical but to let God lead and refresh us as we focus on Him!

      Blessings!

      Grateful for time to accompany my nephew to buy a new pair of spectacles.

      • Connie January 16, 2019, 8:58 am

        So true, David. A fast-paced life compared to previous times. Sometimes too much for the mind to absorb. Thank you, God, for the “peace that passeth understanding”.

  • Julie January 16, 2019, 8:01 am

    Yes! This reflection speaks my thought so eloquently. Perhaps this book is one I should buy as the writer speaks my truths.
    Prayers of thanks that we have heard from Connie. I truly feel that we are sisters and brothers in Christ. I know I felt Connie’s absence and worried.
    Prayers for Jill and her family and for a safe run.
    Prayers for Robert and Erich and for Robert’s church as it tries to find common ground among the members.
    Prayers of welcome for David.
    Prayers for Mary and her willingness to help her family and friends.
    Prayers for Betsy and her family and for Kelsey to have a safe delivery.
    Prayers for Lou and her children and good grades for her youngest on her tests.
    Prayers for Andrea and Lowell and her friend Jane, may she recover from her cancer and may the chemo not make her sick.
    Prayers for Marcy and Lucy. I pray they are well and may she feel God’s love and mine wrap her in warm hugs.
    Prayers dear UR family, posters and readers alike

  • Andrea January 16, 2019, 8:28 am

    It is strange to read a reflection that mentions phone apps. I have been trying to re-establish a meditation practice using a meditations app on my phone. Before, when I had a regular daily meditation practice, I used a small digital timer; I had no device with an internet connection in the room. I believe I need to revert to that method.

    What I recall about meditation is the deep stillness it brought over my body, mind, and spirit. I used to meditate for 40 minutes before going to bed. It know it helped me with work and family stress.

    The sun is shining brightly today, so welcome after some very gray, overcast days. The snow is nearly gone. I am not supposed to take walks. Hard, because walking in the quiet beauty of winter, all bundled up, I have felt God’s presence so deeply, my spirit deeply settled, similar to the calming of meditation. I believe my restriction on walking is a good way for me to find an awareness of God in new circumstances. I think of people of deep faith who have infirmities and how they are models. I believe aging is a process of consciously re-inventing oneself, letting go as necessary and accepting along the way.

    Prayers for UR friends and visitors, may you have a blessed day.

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