Window – Guildford Cathedral
It has been six long months since I began reading and following the book God Hunting by Jo Swinney. In that time I have tried new ideas, re-visited old ones and continued things I am already doing. I thought before I leave this book I would draw everything together to see what has stuck, what I might re-visit and my final thoughts on what I have learned or tried. I will deal with each chapter briefly in order of the book.
Prayer – I still use arrow prayers. They are a great way to connect with God quickly when on the go about a situation or a worry and about something that has happen. For example when I was in London a few weeks ago the paramedics were working on a gentleman lying on the pavement opposite. It was obvious that it was serious as they were trying to get his heart going again. I offered up a prayer for him. I will never know what happened but there appeared to be no person other than the paramedics with the man and he looked so alone.
My intercessory prayers need working on. I pray for family, friends and others I know who I feel need prayers but I often forgot the wider community and sometimes the wider world. The ‘offices’ of morning and evening prayer which I tried didn’t really work for me – I think it is the language but the regularity of it helped. However, I have since bought A Holy Island Prayer Book by Ray Simpson which contains prayers and readings for morning, midday and evening prayer for five weeks and I have been using this book for five weeks! I haven’t managed midday prayer more than twice but I have kept to the morning and evening prayer times and I feel more comfortable with this Celtic style and aim to continue.
Fasting – the only thing that remains from this is that I have one day a week when I don’t use my computer. though it’s not the same day every week as it depends what’s going on. Fasting is something I’d like to revisit again and perhaps read more about.
Bible – meditating daily isn’t going to happen right now! However, I have bought a book which uses The Message Bible version and uses the method of lectio divina for Bible study. I will use this from time to time and see how it goes. I think ‘now and again’ is more my style than trying to fit it into everyday which I know I will soon find a chore and lose interest. Studying the Bible in community isn’t happening and I still don’t know what to do about that but whatever I do it will be outside of my church. This is still a big issue and maybe I will talk about this again some time but right now there are a lot of thoughts spinning around inside my head which I need to try and sort out. The memorising Bible verses I enjoyed but I couldn’t seem to make them stick and eventually gave in. I might try to see if there is another way to learn them that would suit me better because I can see the benefit of doing it. Another one to return to at some time.
Worship – recently I attended a women’s conference at the Christian Resources Exhibition at Sandown Race Course. It has became an annual pilgrimage, the exhibition, and in this will be the third year I have attended one of their conferences. I tried to get some of the ladies from my group at church to come but no one was interested. A friend, not from my church, was unable to get a ticket as this year the conference was sold out, 300 women! So I went on my own. I had a lovely day and the speakers were really good and varied. The talks covered getting the most from our devotional, journalling, finding our personal style (clothes and make up) and living out our identity as a daughter of God. It ended with a choice of two brief workshops on either flower arranging or messy crafts but I opted out of these so I had time to visit the main exhibition stands. One of the speakers, Jennifer Rees Larcombe, I found so inspiring and it was as if her talk was just for me as she spoke about growing up so shy. I found her talk really moving and she is the most wonderful and funny speaker, very genuine. The worship (two brief times) was very different from what I am used to (my church is High Anglican). There was a screen with words and worship songs. People raised their arms. It felt very odd to me and out of my comfort zone but I had a go! I like worship songs and I would like to experience something different from time to time and this is another thing I struggle about with my church. It was good to experience something else but as an introvert it takes a bit of courage!
Solitude – I do intend to find times for quiet days and retreats as they are most helpful. I only plucked up courage a few years ago to go on a retreat and now love them. I hope to book a retreat for later in the year as I missed out on one last year.
Simplicity – this means a lot to me, how I live and what difference I can make. There were aspects that the chapter didn’t touch on like money – where we spend it and our giving. This is something on my mind right now. Time management is still something I’d love to pin down for some areas of my life and who knows maybe I will….one day!
All in all I found the book a great way to explore new ideas to connect with God and on the whole a lot of the exercises were worth considering but finding ways in which these could work for me is still an ongoing thing, though I feel I have have made a lot of progress. If I’d just read the book without doing the exercises as I went I don’t think I’d have got round to it. However, I may re-read the book again without having the thought that I have to do this again! I’ve seen where I am falling short and I have some resources to help me move on. Obviously this book will be different for each individual due to personality types and what you have been used to in your journey and worship style. It does us all good to try things because we can get very staid and think our way is better. We cannot dismiss what others find helpful in connecting to God just because it feels odd to us. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my journey through the book and it has encouraged you to try something yourself for the first time.