A prayer exercise that helped me hear God this morning.

I want to recommend to you an exercise I took up this morning -- rewriting a Psalm in my own words. I had been feeling like I was a little hard of hearing in my relationship with God, but this exercise opened up my ears. I was surprised at the ways God spoke to me.

Here's the really brief backstory. Recently I felt I needed to do something concentrated in my devotional life, so I picked up a book written by my friend and former spiritual director, Larry Warner. Larry is an expert in traditional Christian spirituality, especially that of Saint Ignatius. I opened the book and dove in.

Warner has all sorts of exercises to do along the way, but none has been more powerful than this morning's. I was to rewrite Psalm 136, replacing the first line from each verse with an event in my own life experience. Here's a sample of what Psalm 136 looks like:
Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully.
     His faithful love endures forever.  
Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters.
     His faithful love endures forever. (vv. 6-7)
Here's what I wrote:
I give thanks to him who so skillfully made the mountains of Colorado.
     His faithful love endures forever. 
I give thanks to him who carved out of rock and soil the bed of Italian Creek.
     His faithful love endures forever.
Why write about the mountains of Colorado and Italian Creek? I grew up in Colorado, we used to go camping at Italian Creek, an isolated valley through which a long string of beaver ponds were strung like pearls. Some of my favorite memories are from this spot. I didn't expect it to come up when I rewrote the Psalm, but there it was, so I went with it. How sweet to thank God for that special place!

In other sections of the Psalm, I thought and wrote about how God had protected and delivered me from the enemy of my soul. In another section, I touched on my rich family heritage.

In short, I was surprised at what I found myself writing about. And that was where the exercise really proved valuable. Those little surprises opened my ears to some things God wanted to say to me this morning.

I recommend both Larry's book and the exercise of rewriting Psalm 136. Try it and tell someone what happened!

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