10. Affirmation Prayer
Affirmation Prayer is a way of entering into silent meditation rather than a method or a technique of meditation. It takes the example of Our Lord at prayer drawn from the accounts in the Gospels, but especially as given in John Chapter 17. In verse 8 of this chapter Jesus says to his Father in prayer:
"For I gave them the words you gave me
In Affirmation Prayer we listen to these "words" and indeed to the One who "gave" them — for the Lord Jesus is himself the Word behind the words; to the Word within the words. The whole of Sacred Scripture, every portion of the Bible, deserves our attention for as we shall find Christ is still giving them to us.
Before going any further, let's focus on the significance of Affirmation Prayer. First the word "to affirm" means to strengthen, to endorse, to assert as true, to declare support for. It always expresses a relationship between the speaker and what is affirmed. Also, there is always an uninhibited confidence and positiveness in the act of affirming.
In Affirmation Prayer we humbly seek to affirm God, but in the process we ourselves are also affirmed. We proclaim with uninhibited confidence and joy our total belief in and love of God using his own inspired Scriptures. These provide us with unlimited expressions of faith, trust, dependence and love. As we offer these to God, we are strengthened, empowered, made firmer in our faith, and equipped to interface with an unbelieving world.
Affirmation Prayer is really another name for Communion of the Word, or as we might prefer, Communion in the Word. In this communion, we learn gradually how to receive what God in his infinite goodness is either already giving or desiring to give us: if only we could and would receive as a gift.
In Affirmation Prayer we demonstrate an intense desire to listen to Jesus Christ the Word of God and to become wholly united with him: to abide in him.
How To Prepare An Affirmation Prayer
In Affirmation prayer, we are listening to God's word and are affirming God as source of our life and being. We can therefore remember and recite any chosen word or verse in any form required. From our reading of the Bible we take various words , phrases, or verses which attract our particular interest.
e.g. The opening of Psalm 23 reads:
"The lord is my Shepherd." (Spoken in the 3rd person)
It could be presented as:
"You are my Shepherd" (Spoken in the 2nd person)
We may even feel confident to listen to the real intent of God's Holy Word by presenting this verse in the first person:
"I am your Shepherd"
And so the process applies to any Scriptures we are attracted to by the Holy Spirit. Remember no form is higher or more advanced than the others. There are times in our lives when each form has its place.
We need only one Affirmation as our anchor to lead us into silent communion with the Word. However many people like to have a small collection. We will offer a few should these be helpful — but we encourage you to form your own from your personal experience with Scripture. Let them affirm and strenghten your relationship with God.
These are direct from Scripture but can be re-expressed or personalised in the form which seems right for you. Remember, this is not tinkering with, or altering Scripture. Rather it is demonstrating to God that you love his Holy Word and have heard his message contained in it.
How To Engage Affirmation
It can be exhilarating to read about meditation prayer, especially when new ideas present themselves. But when it comes to actually doing it, we need some help. Affirmation prayer helps us move from active reflection to contemplative rest, where we are restored and renewed. Some call this moving from the mind "down" to the heart. When the time comes to respond to this invitation, this intimation, we recommend that you:
If distracted, exercise your right of choice, and return to your Affirmation without any fuss.
Try to remain open to the Eternal Word ever present for us.
We recommend you take your time to identify a prayer-word for your daily use. This is your treasured Word to remember through your time of silence and meditation. (As we described in our paper "Seven R's ")
It does not pay to change this every time you come across a new or wonderful phrase. By all means record the new-found word(s) for later use, but one should avoid flitting like a spiritual butterfly from one favourite thing to another.
In this way we will reserve our spiritual energy to be present to God, rather than to provide new delights to keep us interested.
May you be richly blessed as you seek to be nurtured by Christ the Living Word of God.
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