Openness to God

Study Notes

Beginning

Sit quietly as a group, come into God’s presence and offer yourselves to him.
Read 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 slowly and out aloud.
Let the words resonate and settle in your heart. Linger on a word or phase that catches your attention and lights up for you.
Read the passage slowly and out loud again.
Listen for where the word connects with your life right now. Use your imagination to see where these words take you.
Read the passage one more time.
Listen intently. Has God addressed you in this word and invited you to respond? Allow the scripture to lead you into a prayer response, either silently or out loud.
Sit quietly for a while, resting in God's presence, acceptance and love.

The disciplines of Contemplation, Rest and Self-Care

Read 2 Corinthians 4:18

  • What does it mean to you to ‘contemplate’?
  • How easy or difficult is it for you to slow down and make room for contemplation? Why do you think this is?
  • Have you ever experienced burn out? What did you do to recover? Has it changed the way you live?
  • When and where do you most deeply rest? Who helps you rest?
  • Do you ever spend time playing? What kinds of things do you like to do as play?

Read Psalm 139:13-18

  • God has ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ you. Is that an easy thing for you to accept, or difficult? Why is this?
  • What is the difference between self-care and self-centredness?
  • What are some ways in which you can practice self-care?
  • In what ways do you prevent yourself from receiving love from God and from others?
  • What benefit could you see for yourself if you were able to spend more time in contemplation, rest of self-care?

Putting it into practice

Select one of the following exercises to do with your group. You may also like to do one or two of these exercises individually during the week:

  • Contemplate Jesus. Close your eyes, become quiet and breath deeply. In your mind’s eye, intentionally place yourself in the presence of God. Imagine yourself with Jesus, perhaps sitting with him, perhaps walking in a garden with him. Imagine what it is like just to be with him. When your mind wanders, gently return it to Jesus. Contemplate what it is like to be in his presence. Tell Jesus how you are feeling. Sit quietly and listen. Is there anything Jesus is saying to you? After a suitable amount of time come together as a group and share your experiences, as you feel comfortable. (You certainly don’t have to share, as contemplation is between you and God, but it also can be encouraging for others in your group.)
     
  • Think about how much sleep you get most nights. Are you respecting your God-given need for rest and recreation? Ask God how long he wants you to sleep. Is it more or less than you are now? Work out a sleeping and waking plan for the following week and stick to it. Next week, share with the group what that was like for you.
     
  • Make a list of all the things you like about yourself. Thank God for all of these things and for making you you.
     
  • Is there an area of your life that needs more self-care? Your body? Your health? Your relationships? Decide what you could do about it this week. Share with the group as appropriate, perhaps asking a trusted friend to make you accountable.