Prayer Bead Devotion: Listening to the Voice Within Ourselves

A few weeks ago I wrote a devotion based on a quote I’d read in Ashley Judd’s recent memoir, All That Is Bitter & Sweet.  The quote was from page 77 where Ashley writes, “Thank God my faith teaches me that listening is the beginning of empathy and, when followed by action, is a powerful prayer.”  Given my recent emphasis on listening, I used the quote to write a devotion designed to help us slow down, stop talking, relax, and just listen to what our neighbor is saying.  I hoped that our listening would lead to empathy for our neighbor and a desire to act to love them and support them in whatever way God calls us to.  That would be our way of praying for them.

Since posting that devotion I’ve been thinking that Ashley’s quote has a great deal of meaning for ourselves as well.  As I wrote during our Lenten journey, though we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, we often struggle to do that given our own struggles with low self-esteem, self-loathing, etc.  It’s very hard to love others if we don’t even love ourselves.  And it occurred to me that maybe we need to learn some compassion – some empathy – for ourselves, which may come only from taking a deep breath and listening to that voice within us, the one we often try to drown out by keeping busy and focusing on others and staying so distracted by technology.   We are afraid of what we might hear.

I confess that certainly applies to me.  I can compete with the best of them when it comes to juggling multiple responsibilities and finding ways to distract myself.  For me, I think that’s a lot because there’s a lot of fear there.  As I’ve talked about before, I am a survivor of sexual assault and for most of my life I’ve lived from a place of fear.  It colors almost every aspect of my life.  But in the past six months I’ve prayed for the ability to relinquish that fear – once and for all – so that I can live fully from a place of peace – God’s peace.  And while that’s a process, I think one of the keys to learning to live in peace is being able to listen to the voice of God within me.  I think if I can do that then I can develop empathy for myself and act from that place of self-love.  I can only imagine how much more I will be able to love God and my neighbor by learning to love myself.  That is the best prayer I can think of for us as individuals.

And so I encourage you to use this devotion to listen to the voice of God within you.  Take time to get really still and quiet – away from any potential distractions – and practice being comfortable with yourself and God in the silence.  From that place I pray that you will listen to that still, small voice inside you – the one that reminds you of who God created you to be – and respond with love and grace.  It may take some time before you are really comfortable doing this, but if you can be brave and persistent and stick with it I believe strongly that you will experience God’s grace in ways you never expected.

Cross: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Invitatory Bead: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.”  (Psalm 139:23 NRSV)

1st Cruciform Bead: Lord, you loved me enough to create me in your image.  Help me to be still and listen to what you have to say to me; grant me the courage and grace to hear what you have to say, and to be reminded of who you created me to be.

1st set of Week Beads: use each bead to just listen to what you are feeling and thinking when all the noise is turned off, and to hear God speaking directly to you.

Note: if necessary, you may want to use all 4 sets of week beads to just listen.  Do this as often as necessary until you reach a point where it becomes easier to sit still and listen to God.  Once that happens, continue with the remainder of the devotion.

2nd Cruciform Bead: Lord, help me to love myself in the way that you love me, to forgive myself for _________, to accept myself as you have created me, to empathize with myself.

2nd set of Week Beads: use each bead to follow God’s lead in forgiving, accepting, and practicing empathy for yourself.

3rd Cruciform Bead: Lord, help me to practice acts of love and acceptance for myself in the following ways:

3rd set of Week Beads: use each bead to consider ways to honor and love yourself that glorify God.

4th Cruciform Bead: Lord, I pray for the following:

4th set of Week Beads: use each bead to lift up prayer concerns for yourself.

Invitatory Bead: recite the Lord’s Prayer

Cross: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

One Response to Prayer Bead Devotion: Listening to the Voice Within Ourselves

  1. Love it all. We have started making beads to sell to send hospital equipment/buy hospital equip. to Meru, Kenya – Ripples International. We will also be sending some prayer beads to our friends in Kenya!!! Our goal for 2012 is $10,000!!!