Daily Devotions
 
Daily Devotion
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Daily Devotion

Years ago, my spiritual director gave me an article called “Stewing, Reflecting, Praying.” I had been lamenting not being able to focus during my prayer, spending the time grumbling or reminiscing about the day gone by and being distracted by what I should have said or what my next tasks were. Sound familiar? I thought I must just be Bad At Prayer. This article changed my life and I’m absolutely not exaggerating here.

The author compares contemplative prayer to the story of the Road to Emmaus. You remember: Jesus had been crucified and two of his disciples were walking to Emmaus and met a stranger (spoilers: Jesus) who asked them why they were sad. Jesus already knew why they were sad—it had all happened to him, for goodness sake—but asked them anyway. The author compares this to our need to stew about our day to God: God already knows how our day went, how cruel someone was to us, how cruel we were to someone else, what we hope for, what we’ve forgotten. God already knows and God asks us to share it anyway. Think about when your toddler tells you haltingly about their day at preschool—maybe you can guess what they did or the end of their story about playground drama, yet you want to hear them tell it. The time we spend in prayer grumbling or dwelling happily in different moments of the day is called stewing and it’s fine. Stew all you want, get it out of your system. 

Then—that’s right, we don’t just get to stew, there’s a next step—then we are invited to reflect. Jesus asked the disciples what they thought of all that had passed. What do you think about your day? Where was God nudging or encouraging you, what did you learn, when were you surprised, when were you empathetic to yourself or someone else? Put simply, how do you interpret your day?

And then—oh, friends, this is the “then” most of us never make it to—then we pray. For this author, this is the moment when the disciples had invited Jesus to eat dinner with them in Emmaus and at that dinner, he explained all of their recent history to them, all of their pain and sorrow, everything that had happened to him and why, and he revealed himself to them as Jesus the Christ. And they were amazed to be in his presence. After we’ve stewed about our day, after we’ve reflected on what it might all mean, we turn to Jesus and sit and listen. As Mother Theresa once said when asked what she did in her prayer time, “I listen,” and when asked what God did while she was listening, “He listens, too.” Prayer in this model is listening. It is a kind of expectant emptiness.

I wonder if you could try this a few times this week. Allow yourself enough time to really stew it all out, to reflect unflinchingly, and to listen expectantly.

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1 comments on article "Daily Devotion"

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Joyce Rudowski

This was a wonderful reminder of the walk we must take from dilemma to resolution. I'm too likely to stew for longer than necessary. This is helpful nudge to the next step.

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