There’s something compelling about a beating heart. It reveals the truth.
My own heart betrayed me as a highschooler. I was trying to “play it cool” with a girl I liked. She snuggled up while we were watching a movie, and while I was calm on the outside, I couldn’t keep my heart from racing. I found out later that my pounding heart betrayed my cool exterior - truth revealed (thankfully, she thought it was adorable).
The heart reveals a lot more than the truth about our attractions. Doctors listen to your heart for clues about all kinds of health issues: stress, nutrition, exercise, drug use, diabetes, thyroid problems, and much more. The heart is a talker!
Praying the Lord’s Prayer everyday for the better part of my adult life (I estimate over 3,000 times) has attuned me to the heartbeat of this iconic prayer. It revealed truths I never expected to find and indelibly left its stamp on me. I can’t remember when I started (or why), but I will forever be grateful for the impact of this simple, profound prayer. My deep dive into the Lord’s Prayer may have started as a spin off of two other spiritual disciplines I practice.
The first, I call scripture immersion. Periodically, I take a New Testament letter (James is my favorite for this exercise) and read it 2-3 times a day for a week or two. This kind of repetition has the effect of a tea bag in a steaming mug of water. The lessons in the letter seep into my life in a way that is more profound than academic study. It’s relational. I feel an intimacy with the text: it’s structure, it’s flow, it’s subtleties. There’s also an intimacy with the author: how they communicate, what they value. It’s learning to listen to the heartbeat of a whole letter.
The other discipline is scripture meditation. I first explored this discipline with a familiar phrase from Psalm 46 - “be still and know that I am God.” My meditative process had me repeating the phrase thoughtfully, emphasizing a different word each time and considering how that emphasis informed the way I received the phrase.
Be still and know that I am God. Be: this is about my state of being, my identity, what is most important in this moment.
Be still and know that I am God. Still: let the distractions fade, stop moving long enough to really pay attention, stop trying to make things happen in my own power.
Be still and know that I am God. And: being still has its own calming value, but there’s more, be expectant for what comes next.
And so on...
Again, I listen to hear the heartbeat - but this time of a single verse or phrase.
Engaging with the scripture through intentional repetition led to a life changing experience with the Lord’s Prayer. After years of steeping in Jesus’ model prayer I’ve learned more than words to mimic. I’ve learned to hear the heartbeat of this prayer. I’ve learned to hear the heartbeat of its author. And I’ve learned to hear the heartbeat of its object.
In the posts that follow, I’ll take you phrase by phrase through this incredible prayer. I’ll share the truth revealed in its heartbeat. I hope you learn to hear it too.