I’ve done this on and off for 24 years. Lately it has become a deeper, richer practice, because now during my Bible reading, I hear/feel a particular verse that fits into a four beat cadence.
Defined, cadence is the measure or beat of a rhythmical flow. Meditation is to muse over, contemplate, muse, intend, purpose.
“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” (Ps. 119:97 [NIV])
“ But his delight is on the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Ps. 1:2 [NIV])
“May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.” (Ps. 104: 34 [NIV])
A few years ago I held a silent retreat at my ranch. We picked a spot outside and sat on mats. I had 3×5 cards with the cadence phrases on them. Participants choose one. I also provided prayer beads to help them focus. I’ve found I can go through one cycle using the beads in thirteen minutes. But it takes practice and intention. Some participants started over if they lost their place, but got there soon enough.
We have no cell service at the ranch, so it was a forced digital detox. We prayed and meditated for about one hour, which was the closing of the retreat. No one wanted to break the silence after such an intimate time with God, so we packed everything up, and they drove home.
Some of them later reported that when they got back to town, it was like sensory overload. They then said they desired to continue what they learned every day. Now mind you, my town only has five stop lights, and a traffic jam consists of four cars waiting for a light to change. But they had gotten so in tune with the cadence of God, it was other-worldly to go back to civilization and its distractions.
Being more mindful, I am now aware when my brain is veering off in a wonky direction, and I get back to balance with my cadence of prayer. I can do it any where and any time. While carrying water to the chickens, running errands, in line at the grocery store, and while watching television. Okay, the last one took more time to master. I had to have a habit of praying continually so that it became a loop running in the background of my mind.
It has also become a great way to memorize Scripture that I can pull up and pray as I need that specific verse. Here are a few of my favorites:
I’m safe and secure in the strength of my Lord.
Your will I seek, Your voice I hear
Fully rely on God
Ever present help in trouble
Let nothing come between and thee
Hopefully when you now read your Bible verses will jump out at you and you can make them your own.
Here are the instructions I passed out to the retreat participants.
- Relax and thank God for an opportunity to go deeper with Him.
- Use in and out breathes (2 in and 2 out with your phrase/verse) ex. Fully (in) rely (out) in (in) God (out); or I’m safe (in) and secure (out) in the strength (in) of my Lord (out)
- Holding your prayer beads in whichever hand is most comfortable, start at the biggest bead. Say out loud or in your mind the verse you’ve chosen, with your in and out breaths. Then move your fingers to the next bead and repeat until you come back to the big bead.
- If your mind wanders, don’t worry, relax and start over. You’ve got this!
In June 2019 Reader’s Digest I was reminded of the benefits of my praying this way. Fighting Trauma the Military Way by Michaela Haas, she states, “Practicing a rhythmic breathing exercise, participants inhale deeply and exhale fully in a slow cadence. Focusing on their breathing helps them unlock muscle tension. Harvard University neurobiologist Sara Lazar has has shown ‘meditation can literally change your brain.’ It can actually shrink the amygdala, the fear center in the brain.”
I know it calms me and gets me to focus on God, so I can then have a conversation with Him, face to face. Not just sniper shot prayers when I’m in a crisis. It helps me stay alert and clearheaded. (See 1 Thes. 5:8 [TPT]) It also makes my life a prayer. (See 1 Thes. 5:17 [TPT]) It keeps my mind from jumping to and fro and directs my attention to what really matter, my relationship with the Living God.
If you will meditate (to think about over and over) on God’s Word day and night…you will prosper and have good success. (See Josh. 1:8)
So join me in rhythmically meditation on the Word of God, with the heartbeat of our life blended with His, and reap the subsequent benefits.
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