A Sensory Stroll

What if you are not the type that can sit still and pray? Are alternatives to silencing the heart and resting the mind available? Yes. One is to go for a sensory stroll. A stroll is a short leisurely, slow walk. Not natural for most Singaporeans. According to surveys, we are some of the fastest walkers among urbanites around the world. So this spiritual exercise takes some learning.

Learning to walk at a leisurely pace is challenging but we also want to add to that a heightening of our physical senses in the stroll. It can be done one by one awareness. For example, we could begin with a focus on what we see. As you stroll observe the buildings, people, park bench, trees, leaves, flowers, cars and pavements. Observe colours, textures, shapes and lines. Pause if anything catches your attention. Next, you concentrate on hearing: the hum of traffic, children playing, birds chirping, rustling of leaves, the MRT train rolling by, the footfall of others and yourself. Then, feel. The mild breeze, the hot humid steam, the mask against your face, perspiration on the forehead, the out-of-breath feeling. Be aware of smell too. Occasionally, you smell jasmine, or worse, traffic smog or delicious food, depending on where you take your stroll. Such a walk can be a relaxing exercise as your mind is temporarily focused on the sensory input, and not on your worries and other mental preoccupations. So this is a good spiritual exercise to ready the mind and heart and body for reflection, prayer and Bible reading.

With Singapore’s hot humid climate, the early morning or late evening seems to be the more suitable times for this exercise. Occasionally a hike in the forest, reservoir or parks can be a great extended leisurely walk with an added play and pray dimension.

Why not give this a try and let readers know what it was like? Put your experience in the comment box.

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Dealing With Inner Noise During Prayer

“It felt like monkeys jumping from branches to branches. More than one monkey.” The person was talking about the experience of preparing to pray and meditate. This is common and something we need to expect and learn to stay calm about, take action and carry on. 


Our mind is like a river carrying floating dry leaves across our mind in an endless stream. Many of these thoughts are insignificant and lightweight and could be ignored with a mere switch off in our soul. They merely come and disappear as quickly as the stream of water passing by. 

The difficulty is when these thoughts, ideas, problems, burdens, emotions, experiences swirl around. It could be your mind trying to solve a problem, flirting with a new idea, remembering something that needed to be done, someone to call, feeling a mood or dominant emotion that suddenly surfaces onto consciousness, or worries and concerns that weigh on you, or a difficult decision to make. They keep pestering. They refuse to leave. Like a float you push underwater, they pop up again and again. If we do not do something with them we might end up totally focused on these matters, feeling spent at the end of all the thinking, and feeling drawn away from God’s life-giving presence. 


There are two methods for handling this. One is to make a record of them in a journal, notebook or phone. Record them with the intention of getting back to them later after you have given yourself to meditation and prayer. Giving them a place of existence, a number in the queue, will placate them, or rather re-assure yourself that these matters will be taken up and will not be forgotten. It gives you peace of mind since they have been set apart safely to be looked at later. This is a prayer aid that will help you focus on meditation of God’s word and prayer first. When you later come back after prayer, to the list to discuss them with the Lord, you may find that the meditation you had was timely in giving you a timely word or godly perspective, and the prayer time had strengthened your faith to view the list differently.

A second way is to pray through and discuss with the Lord all the items you have recorded before going into your meditation of the word and prayer. This is particularly good when the first method was futile as you kept thinking about the problem or your swirling emotions and desire refused to be calmed. Let these problems, burdens, emotions and desires be the subject of your conversation and discussion with the Lord. As you talk to the Lord as a friend speaks to a friend, you will find that it is not mere monologue but an exchange is going on. Thoughts and inspiration and ideas and perspectives may dawn on you in prayer. New desires and self-control may overtake your anxious, angry and greedy soul. You may find that this alone had taken all the time you had allotted and there is no time for meditation on his word. It does not matter. You have prayed. You have had communion with the Lord.

I am sure there are other useful methods readers have tried. I am sure if you take some time to share what worked for you, it would be of help to other pray-ers too. The comment button is below the title of this blogpost.

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Holy Week: contemplative and charismatic

The theme of our Holy Week was The Gethsemane Journey. Can the Pentecostal and contemplative blend? Why not? Although  the practices of the Pentecostal and the contemplative seem to be incompatible opposites they actually enrich and deepen each other! I saw this in our experience of Holy Week 2017. I handed the planning to our young pastoral staff: Ethel, Tom and Sarah. I told them the parameters was that we share with the church different practices of prayer both contemplative and charismatic. This was what they came up with.

Monday: Lectio Divina

Tuesday: Praying the Psalms

Wednesday: Prophetic prayer

Thursday: Intercessory prayer

Each evening would begin with time for people to be still and wait on God in silence with background instrumentals played over the speakers. Then there would be brief explanations of the prayer practice we would be doing. Followed by an hour for people to actually enter into the practice of prayer. The last segment would be a partaking of Holy Communion.

The worship hall would be made conducive with dim lights, devotional  instrumental music (except of the last evening when we had a live band), and the hall would be cleared of the usual auditorium seating so people could sit anywhere on the floor or chairs along the edges.

Personally I enjoyed each and every evening of Holy Week. It was no chore. The Lord was present each night to impart different insights and experiences. The first night a Scripture portion lighted up and shifted my posture towards a ministry matter. The second night I felt I was crying out to the Lord on behalf of the sick. The third night, I composed and sent prophetic prayers and words to three friends. The last night, I had to facilitate the intercession evening. However I enjoyed the soaking session with the live worship band. Whether contemplative or charismatic practices are used the common element is the presence and power of God.

Some of the participants who attended the Holy Week wrote about their experiences in this article in our church website: Holy Week: The Gethsemane Journey.

The whole Lent and Holy Week can possibly be a seasonal “curriculum” for personal and church renewal. How does your church use this season for God’s glory? Share with the readers what your church has done.

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