The advantage of a familiar Bible verse is that we can repeat it easily, without much thought. The downside is that we can repeat it easily, without much thought! By using it as the nucleus of a prayer conversation piece we avoid mechanical repetition, and can enjoy fresh flavours from those well-used verses.
A prayer conversation piece is a habit that honours the Speaker by loving his voice and enjoying close-up conversation about what he says. It grows us in pray continually and shapes our living around the prayer intimacy core.
The Spirit and Word connect us to the Lord’s thoughts (about himself, us, others and issues), enlarging our picture of Glory (1Cor 2:10 -13). So, pray continually isn’t just about repeating the words, but enjoying the view his words open up to us. All of our living (every activity and circumstance) takes place against the truth landscape painted by his Word. As long as we don’t close our eyes to the scenery, we will always have conversation pieces to enjoy with the Lord.
A conversation piece can be triggered by a crisis, a Scripture reading, a spontaneous thought, or a deliberate plan. The nucleus will not be the crisis or need, but will be something relevant the Lord (the lead Speaker) has said or shown in his Word. We interact with him around that truth – listening, repeating, reflecting, enquiring, admiring, celebrating, lamenting or requesting. The beauty of the conversation piece is the way it grows our agreement with the Speaker, and deepens prayer intimacy.
It’s best to begin a prayer conversation piece during an ‘inner room’ time where it’s easier to focus, and then blend it into the day’s activities. We are imperfect pray-ers on a pray continually journey, so there will be an ebb and flow in the conversation. It might fade in the day’s hectic rush, but can be picked up regularly (increasingly), either audibly or silently.
Psalm 23 is one of those familiar passages. The Lord spotlights his Shepherd nature in our picture of his Glory. My recent conversation piece focused on the words in verse 1: I lack nothing. Perfect care! That truth became the nucleus of the conversation piece.
No earthly shepherd can give perfect care. Sometimes shepherds don’t have the needed resources, or face circumstances beyond their control (drought, disease, Job-like catastrophes). Sheep can lack. But with the Lord-Shepherd there is NEVER a need beyond his supply, and NEVER a circumstance beyond his control. It’s his glory to guarantee perfect care for his sheep.
For a few days, it was the theme of my conversation piece in the inner room, then blended into living. At times I asked for something or lamented that, occasionally, his care seemed late in arriving. But mostly it was admiration (wonder, celebration, thanks, praise) for his perfect care, and about my hunger to ‘feel’ the caring heart of the Shepherd more.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. That first line of the psalm became a refrain, easily repeated in the day’s activities (a ‘breath prayer’), but with a growing enjoyment and grasp of the truth it carries.
Your prayer conversation piece
You can use that same nucleus: The Shepherd’s perfect care. Or you can choose a different focus in the psalm. For instance, the Shepherd’s leading, his protection, or his goodness.
- In your inner room, read Psalm 23, reflect, and note what you sense the Speaker is drawing you to as a conversation piece. Tell him of your plan to enjoy the conversation with him.
- Ponder the truth focus, write some notes and create some triggers to sustain ongoing conversation, especially in the busiest rhythms of the day.
- Bring different types of prayer into your close-up conversation: admiration, desire/hunger, lament, enquiry, consecration, request…..
- Begin each day by offering yourself to the Lord for prayer intimacy. Share your desire with him to grow in pray continually
- Ask him, the lead Speaker to signal when it’s his time for a fresh conversation piece.
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