WELCOME TO WEEK 6: THE WAY OF INTEGRITY
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
So, it is not striving for perfection or moral mastery or even seeking God’s approval for themselves that marks people of integrity. Instead they are most like the surprised sheep who find themselves at the right hand of the Good Shepherd in Matthew 25, wondering when they gave the Son of Man food and drink and clothing or cared for him or visited him in prison. They are not preoccupied with their own good works. But what they experience is that the integrity between their beliefs and practices, between their faith and their daily living, though inevitably flawed, seems to be grounded in a deep receptivity to God’s mysterious presence in their lives.
Slowly we come to know that while we join in God’s struggle in the world, the work itself is God’s ongoing work of love. We aren’t striving for perfection or mastery or even completion of some ministry task, but simply to participate with Christ’s own ministry, to be at the center of God’s love for us, which is also God’s love for the world around us.
- Open your imagination to the Holy Spirit and enter into the story, allowing God to bring to mind anything that might be relevant for you today.
- Where in the story might God be inviting you to engage today?
- What words or aspects of the story connect with you?
- Keep these questions in mind as you engage in the weekly prayer practice today.
2. Prayer Practice: Abiding Prayer
Abiding prayer is essentially wordless prayers of simply sitting or standing or walking in the Presence. This prayer lives in the sense that you are loved, that God listens as you listen, that there is life flowing from you to God and back again. It isn’t dependent on your work or insight, your experience of God or your knowledge of the Holy—it just is.
You can pray this prayer in the rhythm of your breath, while sitting at prayer, or sorting the laundry, or exercising at the gym. You can drop any words of the prayer, but the essential word is the name of Jesus, keeping your life centered in Jesus Christ, the True Vine. As you pray, recognize that this prayer is a prayer of sustainability, acknowledging that without this daily connection to Jesus there is no life. It is also a prayer of consent, allowing God to be the “yes” at the center of your life, allowing the flow of that Life into your life.
Choose whatever word or phrase represents, for you, your recognition of this sustainability and consent to God’s love in your life. It could be words like: “Abba, Father,” or “Holy Presence,” or “Friend,” or “Creator.”
- Abiding prayer is essentially an intentional awareness of being in and with the divine Presence.
- As you reflect on this word or phrase, let it be a return to the sustaining relationship of love.
- Sense the Presence of Christ as close as your own breath; held in the Spirit indwelling you and giving you life.
- The silence here is a silence not of distance but oneness. It is a silence not of emptiness but of an enduring relationship of love where there is infinite welcome.
The whole point of the practice is for prayer to permeate your life, throughout each day, so that you might sense an awareness of God in everyone and everything, even when your life is filled with busyness, noise, and distractions.
3. Jot down any notes to keep a record of your journey.
- It doesn’t have to be “journaling.” Just capture any key thoughts, ideas, or challenges that come to mind during your time spent with God. This will allow you to track any recurring ideas or themes that God may want to guide you through.