Welcome to the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Phase 2: My Relationship with God

Observing your own practices and hopes in relation to God

Of all the elements of a Rule of Life, those dealing with our relationship with God are the most important. God is the source and the center of our lives as people of faith. During this phase, we will be exploring ways in which we can develop and grow our relationship with God in prayer. Prayer is our lifeblood. It is what binds us to God and God to us. Jesus came to offer us abundant life, and through his teaching and example, he has shown us that prayer is a wonderful way to come home to God and to receive that life which is his promise to each one of us.

A reading from The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist on ‘Prayer and Life’: Reflect on how this reading might inform your own life of prayer.

God the Holy Spirit longs to inspire in us prayer that includes and embraces the whole of our life. It is a great privilege to be called to the religious life, which offers us every opportunity and encouragement to welcome the Spirit’s transforming grace so that prayer may enter more and more into all that we are and all that we do.

Resisting the tendency to restrict prayer to set times, we are to aim at Eucharistic living that is responsive at all times and in all places to the divine presence. We should seek the gifts which help us to pray without ceasing. The Spirit offers us the gift of attentiveness by which we discern signs of God’s presence and action in creation, in other people and in the fabric of ordinary existence. We are called to spiritual freedom by which we surrender fretfulness and anxiety in order to be available to God in the present moment. There is the gift of spontaneity, which gives rise to frequent brief prayers throughout the day in which we look to Christ and express our faith, hope and love. There is the gift of prompt repentance, which encourages us to turn to God and ask for forgiveness the instant we become aware of a fall. Through these and other like gifts, prayer comes to permeate our life and transfigure our mundane routines.

The life of prayer calls for the courage to bring into our communion with Christ the fullness of our humanity and the concrete realities of our daily existence, which he redeemed by his incarnation. We are called to offer all our work to God and ask for the graces we need to do it in Christ’s name. In our prayer we are to test whether God is confirming our intentions and desires or not. We are able to pray about one another, our relationships and common endeavors. We are to bring him our sufferings and poverty, our passion and sexuality, our fears and resistances, our desires and our dreams, our losses and grief. We must spread before him our cares about the world and its peoples, our friends and families, our enemies and those from whom we are estranged. Our successes and failures, our gifts and shortcomings, are equally the stuff of our prayer. We are to offer the night to God as well as the day, our unconscious selves as well as our conscious minds, acknowledging the secret and unceasing workings of the Spirit in the depths of our hearts.

This deep intention at the heart of our life to find God in all things means learning to trust that divine companionship continues undiminished even when we feel only boredom and frustration. We can learn to stay still in our experience of numbness and resistance, and trust that Christ is just as truly alive in our hearts in these times as in those in which we enjoy the sense of his presence.

Exercise: My Garden Plot

Spend time now reflecting on your relationship with God. Download and use the exercise to map out how your garden is currently growing. Consider too, how you would like it to grow. Respond to the questions in each section with drawings and creative expressions. Start with the soil, move on to the plants, and end with the sky. Have fun, get out your art supplies, and let your creative spirit come alive!

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9 Comments

  1. Sue on March 21, 2017 at 15:55

    Nature absolutely makes me aware of Gods love- I love watching the sea in different weather, bushland and tall trees, tiny surprising wild flowers, kangaroo families along my walk,birds in the trees, and my affectionate dog.
    I don’t at all feel connected to God on a daily basis,but that really isn’t surprising- I’m like a teenager who only contacts their parent when they want something! I don’t have a habit of regular connection – I never learnt to do this and those close to me are not religious or spiritual so it feels odd.I do know that when I ask, I feel guided.
    I am so enjoying this series, it is helping me.
    I’m going to try regular prayer , even if it does feel odd!

  2. William H Thornton on February 20, 2016 at 16:56

    Very interesting program. The analogy of gardening works very well for me, I love landscaping. One additional thought. I’ve had to do some “pruning” in my life, things that were not good for me or others in my life. Pruning takes away the things that make me feel bad or do things incorrectly.

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  7. mimi on February 16, 2016 at 09:53

    I am paying attention to a seed that is growing in new ways within, God is using a study of reconciliation to find places in my life to grow relationships, understandings, and new language of love.

  8. […] Phase 2: My Relationship with God Wookbook Exercise: My Garden Plot […]

  9. […] Phase 2: My Relationship with God Wookbook Exercise: My Garden Plot […]

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