Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Breathing in and Breathing out

In the book Punk Monk Pete Greig writes a lovely chapter on The ancient art of breathing.

He says this: "Life begins by breathing in, but unless we breathe out, we die! The primary call, as we have seen, is to withdraw in prayer, but we are also commanded to go out from that place of intimacy in order to advance the kingdom of heaven"

How we liken our work out on the streets at night or in general is a rhythm of "breathing in and breathing out" we breathe in whilst in the prayer room and then breathe out on the streets. We spend an hour breathing in and then an hour walking the streets, we come back and spend another hour breathing and then go out for another hour on the street, this is the rhythm of our work here. We split our team in two, so that we have this constant rhythm happening, whilst half the team is out half the team is in!

Pete also says:

“we must not fail to inhale the breath of God (by which we were created and without which we die) through disciplined prayer and meditation upon Scripture. And having inhaled God’s breath, we may
breathe out His life in loving mission, acts of mercy, celebratory worship and generous hospitality.” 

“balance the inward breath of prayer with the outward breath of social engagement”

It can almost seem transactional, but I think it is a little more than that, a guy I know called Adrian Stark Ordish wrote this in his recent essay on prayer and mission:

"Of course, no metaphor will be entirely adequate. The tradition of apophatic, or negative, theology is a reminder that human language and concepts are prone to failure when confronted with the majesty and otherness of God. This must be considered when devising metaphors in the Christian life, or criticising them. It is best to focus on what is right about the metaphor, what can be learned from it, without forgetting that it must, of necessity, be wrong in many ways. As has been discussed, the breathing metaphor has positive, helpful features.

Another strategy to alleviate some of the problems of the inadequacies of all metaphors is to provide more than one, in the hope that they illuminate various facets of the truth. To this end, another metaphor for the connection between prayer and mission is the making of a magnetic compass. A compass can be made by taking a needle, stroking it repeatedly with a magnet, then floating it in water on a piece of cork. The needle will then point towards magnetic north. In this metaphor, the needle is a person. 

God is magnetic north (or possibly magnetism itself). The stroking of the needle with a magnet is the relationship of the person with God – prayer. The more the needle is stroked, the more it is aligned with the magnet. The more a person engages in prayer, the more aligned with God and His purposes they are. Once the needle is aligned, it will point north. Once the person is aligned they will point in God’s direction, become attuned to His will. 

This means they will come to share in His mission. Over time, the needle becomes demagnetised and ceases to point north. 

Similarly, the person who stops praying will lose their alignment with God and therefore eventually lose the missional attitude; the relationship of prayer must be continued."

I agree I think that what we do is so much more than a transitional approach, it is bout alignment, I believe that almost by default a praying person will become missional.

No comments: