Rev. Dr. Ted Goshorn peers intently and Dr. Brian Russell as he begins his session on the spiritual practice of centering prayer.

On Saturday, March 4th the Glennville Methodist Church hosted Dr. Brian Russell and Rev. Dr. Ted Goshorn for a Deeper in Prayer Conference. Methodist church members and pastors from over South Georgia gathered for this one day conference.

The conference focused on contemplative prayer and spiritual rhythms. 

Brian and Ted are known speakers in their fields. Brian Russell is biblical studies professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. Ted Goshorn is the Sr. Pastor at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church. The presenters provided many different ways for us to engage in prayer. There were workshops in the morning and the afternoon with a catered lunch in between. We started and ended the day with worship by the talented Mary Anne Cabbage. 

Highlights from the conference included practicing centering prayer multiple times, a Q & A time with the speakers, and a short hymn sing after the lunch break.

Here is a personal reflection from Glennville Methodist Church member Mary Catherine Banks that was featured in the church newsletter.

What an opportunity to learn a way to form a good habit that could change a life! Even though the word “habit” usually has a negative connotation, we were told about a positive one in which to enter into the presence of God through Centering Prayer every day. This new term means “setting aside a chosen period of time each day of total silence for a routine of going to God in prayer”. We were encouraged to intentionally and faithfully make this a real habit of the same time span each day in meditation and surrender to Him. By choosing a “prayer word” such as “Jesus”, we can say it to remind us to return to God when our random thoughts inevitably come into our minds to interfere with our focus on Him! 

The purpose of this centered prayer is for us to become an instrument of love in our noisy world by letting go of what disrupts us from His spirit. We are meant to love God and ourselves so that love and forgiveness of others overflows. This paraphrased quote meant a lot to me. “Daily life is like a glass of stirred up muddy water! But when we sit in silence with God, that troubled mixture becomes settled and clear. We can then see to go about our day in the spirit of love”.

Mary Catherine Banks

From the feedback received, this conference seemed to add deep spiritual value to those who attended.

As a pastor, I am professionally trained to study the bible, understand theology (some), preach, and offer pastoral care. However, there is one area where most pastors… maybe even most Jesus-followers are under trained in. This area is in trying to figure out what God is doing in our own life.

The other day I was listening to a podcast where my mentor, Brian Russell, was interviewing another pastor/author, Marc Alan Schelske. Marc was talking about his own spiritual formation and struggles as a pastor.

Marc also shared a tool he uses to help him process what God is doing in his life. He gave three questions he asked that are inspired by an ancient church father, St. Ignatius.

I found them so helpful I tweeted, blogged about, and made it the cover of the church newsletter. Marc offered the practice of time daily journaling through these questions.

#1 What happened in my life yesterday?

#2 Why did I respond or choose the way that I did?

#3 Who is God inviting me to be?

These questions have added value to my processing time with the Lord. 

What practices do you find helpful in addition to your prayer and scripture reading?