PRAYER PRACTICES THAT TAKE TWELVE TODAY TEACHESThe prayer practices that Take Twelve Today currently teaches through workshops and retreats are listed below. If you are a beginner to the practice of Christian Meditation, we recommend that you start with the breath prayer practice. Our world can be busy and hectic and learning to be quiet and sit in silence is not easy. We first need to quiet our body and our mind. The breath prayer assists us in physically slowing down our breath so that we may then slow our mind and be more attentive and present for God. Take Twelve Today encourages you to rest in silence for 12 minutes. (Science suggests that 12 minutes is the minimum time one needs to rewire the brain for more love and compassion). Start and work your way up to 12, 20 or 30 minutes. If desired, increase your practice to two sessions per day.
The Breath Prayer
The breath prayer can be used to help you slow down your body and mind and prepare you to sit still in silence. It can be a prayer practice by itself or a practice used to calm the body and mind before practicing other prayer forms. It also can be used anytime during the day when you may be feeling stressed or anxious.
To Prepare: To become still, it is important to pay attention to our body language. We want to convey our openness through our body. Sitting with a straight back, feet on the floor and with the intention of being present for God, are helpful.
In this prayer practice you learn to control your breath by first counting your inhalations and then your exhalations. As you follow your breath in and out from your abdomen, you may wish to add the words from Psalm 62:5 “For God alone, my soul waits in silence”.
With each inhalation say: “for God alone,”
With each exhalation say: “my soul waits in silence”
Or you may shorten and say only “God” and “silence;” listen and be open to wherever God is leading you. Whenever you become distracted, begin counting your breaths or repeat the scripture.
Lectio Divina, which literally means “divine or sacred reading,” is an ancient practice of praying the Scriptures. During this prayer practice one listens to the text of the Bible with the “ear of the heart” as if one is in conversation with God, and God is suggesting the topic of discussion. You do not need biblical knowledge, only the intent to be silent and present for God. This is a wonderful way to fall in love with Scripture if you are not already!
There are four steps involved in the practice: Read, Reflect, Respond and Rest.
Centering Prayer is a receptive, deep method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplation, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
In this prayer practice, it is suggested that we sit for two, 20 minute periods a day in silence and focus on God. When we become distracted and/or start attaching to our thoughts, we repeat a “sacred word” to help us return our focus on God.
We believe this prayer practice is best learned in an existing “Centering Prayer” meeting group. Please see the website www.contemplativeoutreach.org for more information about how to learn Centering Prayer.
We suggest that if you don’t have two 20 minute opportunities, start with one. And if you only have 5 minutes to start, then take 5 and add as you are able. The most important thing is …..to begin!
In the prayer practice of guided imagery, we are invited to be present for God through the gift of our imagination. In this prayer practice, a Gospel story (usually one that includes Jesus) is first read aloud. The reader then invites the listener to move into the story while setting the scene using all of the senses. The listener may be asked questions such as the following: What is the weather? What is the landscape like? Who is there? How are they dressed? What do you see, smell, hear, feel? Using their inner eye, the listener paints a picture. It is a wonderful opportunity to be led by the Holy Spirit!
Toward the end of the guided meditation, the listener may have the opportunity to be alone with Jesus. There may be a question posed to Jesus and in the “resting” period of silence, the listener may wait for an answer.
This is a suggested practice for a group meditation or a retreat.
Body Prayer: Walking Meditation
A walking meditation is an excellent way to learn meditation for those who have a difficult time sitting still in silence. As we walk we are training our brain to focus on God.
You may choose to either walk outside in nature or indoors in a straight line back and forth. As you breathe deeply you may choose to focus on a particular psalm, repeat the Jesus prayer (this prayer practice is taught on our meditation CD), or concentrate on filling yourself with God’s warmth and light.
Chanting engages our whole body with vibration as we use our voice and fill our lungs praising God. Chanting can induce tranquility by easing the turmoil of thoughts and emotions and bring release for awhile from daily anxieties and pains. Most importantly chanting evokes a sense of God’s presence.
Since ancient times, sacred chants have been integral to Christian worship. The earliest Christians offered praise and adoration to God by chanting scriptural texts, especially the Psalms.
For further information on chanting you may wish to explore the practice of Taize. This is a chanting prayer practice that was started in Taize, France and has become very popular in the United States.
This is a specific meditation attributed to Father John Main. Fr. Main played a major role in the contemporary renewal of the contemplative tradition. His teaching of this ancient tradition of prayer is rooted in the Gospels and the early Christian monastic tradition of the Desert. In this practice, during your period of silence, you are invited to silently recite a single word- a prayer word or mantra. John Main recommends the ancient Christian prayer word “Maranatha” which means “Come, Lord.” For more information on Christian Meditation as taught by John Main, please visit the website www.wccm.org.
Take Twelve Today has produced a meditation CD which teaches and guides most of these prayer practices. Please visit our products page to either download or purchase our guided meditation CD or contact us to schedule a retreat for your church or organization.