Dear Friends,

You are receiving this email because you have made a commitment to spend fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, in solitude and silence, so as to draw near to God. A special thank you to Rev. Steffi Miller who is helping write these reflections!

We want to hear how this is going for you! Please respond to this email and tell us what you are learning, what God is saying, and how this commitment is going.

Also, who else do you know who might want to make this commitment? Forward this email to them. They can receive these emails by registering here.

We are praying with and for all of you!

Blessings as you spend time in solitude, study and prayer,
Cindy and Chuck

P.S. Have you picked up your Drawing Near Resource Guide and Prayer Journal? They are available for pickup in front of the church offices. These weekly emails will soon start referring to prayers and practices that are in the resource guide.
Drawing Near
General Instructions:

  1. Be patient and give yourself grace. This is new for many of us! 
  2. Decide which days and what time you will enter into solitude and silence. Consider putting these times on your calendar, and, if needed, share this commitment with those you are living with so that they can support you.
  3. Find a quiet place, free from distraction, where you can be comfortable.
  4. Consider lighting a candle so as to claim the space as “holy ground.”
  5. Begin each time by letting your spirit and mind settle, and asking God to guide your time with him.
  6. Consider keeping a journal so as to record how God is leading you.
Scripture for This Week:

See below.

* If one passage resonates with you, consider dwelling in that verse or verses for more than a day, and perhaps the whole week.
Reflection for This Week:

Each day, reflect on one or more of the following, and consider writing your thoughts down in a journal: (A suggestion is to CONCLUDE EACH REFLECTION by “singing” the DOXOLOGY! “LORD, we give you great THANKS for all these “saints” who take time to reflect on you and your word this week.  Bless them in the name of Jesus!”)
The scripture for the sermon this week is about Jeremiah’s letter to those living in exile in Babylon and God’s plan after 70 years for the people’s “welfare, a future with hope.” Think of a time/situation, when you have waited a long time for a positive outcome to a problem. Were you able to claim God’s love and promise to you for your “welfare, a future with hope?” Why or why not? Who are you concerned about that seems to have a future without hope? Try to write out a prayer with your thoughts and feelings about this passage and your experiences with God when you were in despair as well as about your concern for those who feel hopeless.
The psalmist exhorts us to look to the Lord our God for mercy when people who scorn us have seemingly easier lives. Are there times in your life when you felt scorn or contempt from others; when others seemed proud of who they are in ways that demeaned you? Are there times when you have felt pride or even contempt towards those who have more difficult lives? Again, consider those who are struggling without hope as you reflect on “Perseverance in Prayer” by John Calvin on page 33 of the Resources for Prayer and Solitude booklet. Write your reflections in your prayer journal. 
As you read Psalm 90, pause every couple of verses and let the verses speak to you before moving to the next verses. (See the italicized guidelines for “praying a psalm” that are given on page 6 in the Resources booklet.) Do you notice God drawing near to you as you read/pray this psalm, pausing along the way? Write down any reflections that come to you in this reading.
These verses refer to the “day of the Lord” and tells us to “keep awake and be sober” and to put on the “breastplate of faith and love” and the helmet of “the hope of salvation.” What do you think it means to put on these pieces of armor? How do they help protect us in troubled times? How does the call to encourage each other and build up each other relate to the rest of the passage? What are things that you can do in response to this admonition? Are there any daily practices that would help you in that journey? Writing down our commitments or telling our commitments to a friend can help us be faithful to and sustain us in those commitments.
In the parable of the talents, how do you feel about the master’s response to the servant who was given one talent and buried it? What are your talents? How are you using them? How could you use them in bringing hope to those in troubled times? Try using your hands in praying the “Daily Prayer” on page 41 of the Resources booklet, keeping in mind the gifts and talents God has given you.