ACT before you ASK – Application tab

When I am finished with the ACT part of my routine, I open up God’s word and use the Divine Office as a reading guide.  It’s fitting (and satisfies my love for order and balance) that this is at the center of my prayer time.  I’ve focused on the Lord, His glory, His names and His attributes; I have examined my conscience and asked the Lord to search my heart and show me any areas I need to address with Him, and I have spent time remembering His acts of mercy and kindness to me.  Now, I can take time to listen for His response.   I love the cadence of the liturgy of the hours, and the way that OT and NT dovetail together to paint a multi-dimensional picture of the gospel.  While listening to and reading Sacred Scripture is a necessary part of hearing and obeying the will of God, the Apostle James warns us not to be hearers only, but to be “doers” of the Word.  How do we do that?

We “become” doers of the Word by applying Scripture to our daily lives; that is, making our walk match what we say we believe about God’s Word.  This is, in my opinion, what Paul meant when he said “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)  One Bible version translates this as “put into practice”.  I love that phrase, because I know that when I struggle with a new skill, I don’t get better at doing it by just reading about it, or by talking about it, or by assenting to its appropriateness, rightness, or goodness.  No, I have never improved a new skill, or new habit, unless I actively participate in developing it, or in a word, practice.

You want a deeper prayer life?  Keep on doing it.
Need to forgive that hateful person who wounded you so deeply?  Keep on doing it.
Need to be more loving, gentle, faithful, generous, etc.?  Keep on doing it.

Paul is instructing us to practice what we learn, and especially if we are going to be telling others what God’s Word says, it is important that our actions match our words.

While you are reading the Scriptures, ask questions, and listen for the answers in your spirit.  This is what I use the “Apply” tab for, peeps.  This is where I record the things I hear whispered in my Spirit while reading or hearing His word.  This is where I make the promises, warnings, and commands of God part of my daily walk.  There are six pages in this section, I find it helpful to break it down in simple steps, and to have a place ready for recording.  Since this is a brand new habit for me, meaning, I am at the very cusp of learning it and incorporating it, my pages are blank, but not for long.

IMG_0758Is there something worthy of meditating on?
Write it down, think on these things!
Is there a promise to claim?
Write it down, thank God for it and claim it!
Is there a warning to heed?
Write it down, BEWARE!  This is a heads up!
Is there a command to obey?
Write it down!  Don’t delay, obey!
Is there a bad habit or negative trait to put off or a healthy one to adopt ?
Write it down!  Put off – put on…just do it!
Is there a good example to follow or a bad example to avoid?
Write it down! Imitate the good and shun the bad.
(I love words, and am especially tickled at how this looks on paper, “imitate-shun” sounds a whole lot like imitation, doesn’t it?

When I am listening for God’s voice, I might have some praise and worship music still playing, or maybe I will be listening to the Divine Office podcast, or reading the Daily Readings quietly.  Whatever it is, I try to listen to what the Lord is saying to my spirit.  Sometimes a word or phrase will stand out, sometimes I will be compelled to DO something, or I will be burdened to pray for someone; sometimes I will hear just the words being read or spoken, and nothing really stands out.

I find the latter to be the case often.  It used to really bother me, I would wonder “why won’t God speak to me?  Is there sin that is separating me from Him?  Are my prayers being hindered?”  I wasted so much time worrying and fretting over just a simple lapse in conversation.    Now when this happens, you know what I do?  I thank Him for the silence.  It’s in these times that I believe He is content just to BE with me.  Really, do you have a friend that you love to talk with?  Do you ever have lapses in conversation?  Of course!  I love the kind of friends that are happy to just hang out with me, even when I don’t have profound things to say.  If we have a friend in Jesus (and when I say “if” I really mean “since”), I believe we have these moments, these seasons even, where God is quiet, and desires us to be quiet as well.   So now, I thank Him for His presence, and for His love, and if I need to, I will flip back to my Adoration or Thanksgiving tab and review ALL the things I have to be thankful for.  I will remember His character, His attributes, and His forgiveness.  I will obey what I heard Him say and I will be still and KNOW that He is God, I will praise Him because He is with me, He loves me and He has good things planned for me.

 ACT before you ASK
Adoration
Confession
Thanksgiving
Prayer of Consecration

ACT before you ASK

I’m working on a prayer journal system that will hopefully be a tool in keeping me organized and on task in my quiet time.  Right now, it’s a tool, but also a project, as I am in the process of tweaking it to make it function for me.  You might remember that last year, I began putting a little prayer journal together for the sake of memorizing the creed and rosary.  I did a series on prayer that included some of the insights the Lord gave me while putting it together, and I’m thinking this is going to be a similar series by the time we finish with it.

20140524-081414-29654093.jpgLast year, a dear friend sent me a little journal, which had remained empty and unused until last week.  I’ve put it to use as my Beta version, and when I pick it up, I remember her in my prayers.  (She is one that I thank God for in my Thanksgiving…as well as one I intercede for in my supplication) …but I’m getting ahead of myself.   By the way, I LOVE how God made this journal with sunflowers!  It’s like my prayer life has a theme…and seeing sunflowers reminds me to pray.  How great is He!?

I started putting my journal together by following the ACTS model of prayer, that is, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.  As I continued it kind of morphed into what I call ACT before you ASK.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m don’t deliberately make myself focus, my prayer time can sound whiny, and childish.  I do not want my prayer life to be marked by this.  I want my prayer time to be intentional, where I focus on the Lord and my heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude and praise for Him, and marked by faith and trust.

I divided my journal into six sections as such:

Adoration – Where I record the names and attributes of God that I collect as I go.
Contrition/Confession- Where I spend time in self-examination and confess the sins that the Holy Spirit reveals to my spirit.
Thanksgiving – Where I remember to thank the Lord for what He is accomplishing in my life.

Application – Where I record my God whispers…times when the rubber meets the road…those little (or big) things that jump out at me in my daily Bible reading, prayer, or personal interactions with others.
Supplication – Where I keep a record of people that I pray for on a regular basis.
Knowledge – Where I keep a record of portions of Scripture and Bible truths that I have committed to memory and know by heart.

My daily quiet time follows this model pretty closely, with my daily Bible reading fitting right between the two acronyms.  I think I’ll make a separate post for each of my sections so I can show you better how I put this system to work for me.  I haven’t completely made up my mind whether I will prefer a bound journal, like the one I’m using right now, or if I will eventually move to a 3 ring binder system.  I can see benefits and downsides to both, and I may eventually use a combination of both.  It is providing me with more opportunity to create, and draw, and color.  For now, my dividers are homemade, laminated bookmarks that fit the book.  Each divider has prompts that keep me on track, and the cool thing about them is, if I don’t want to take my whole journal with me, but need the prompts, I can remove them from the journal, put them in my Bible, or purse, or whatever I’m carrying, and tote them along with me to use as needed.

More to come…