As newborn babies, long for the spiritual milk, the real stuff, not watered down.
1 Peter 2:2
Stilling: Being present to God
You may want to light a candle, or say a short prayer as you intentionally place yourself in the presence of the Holy One.
Find a comfortable position and be still for a couple of minutes. Concentrate on your breathing – slowly, in and out. Relax your muscles. Don’t worry about any thoughts that come into your head; acknowledge them, then come back to your stilling exercise.
Say the following prayer as you commit to being in God’s presence:
You sustain me and feed me;
Like a shepherd you guide me;
You lead me to an oasis of green,
To lie down by restful waters.
Dwell in me that I may dwell in you.
From Jim Cotter, Psalms for a pilgrim people, Psalm 23
Disciplines of Grace
In Chapter 11 of Growing up to be a child, I suggest some rhythms and practices that I have found helpful in seeking to follow Jesus. I explore these in relation to four basic requirements of a newborn baby: cleansing; feeding; resting; and dressing.
coming to God, acknowledging our brokenness, contamination, sin, and suffering – the pain we have caused and the hurts we have received from others; asking the Holy One to take all of that and to let us feel once again clean, whole and healthy.
engaging with God’s word – both written and created; through practices of reading, study and meditation.
being with our loving God, resting in God’s presence, taking time to be still; learning to appreciate the beauty around us, to allow our creativity to express itself.
preparing ourselves for living life in all its fullness.
I make these suggestions with some hesitation, knowing that I am far from perfect in any of these disciplines; but also recognising that becoming a child in the way Jesus intended is not something we can achieve through our own effort:
Becoming a child is a gift from God; it stems from God’s grace. The challenge for us is not to strive to obey all the rules, practice all the right disciplines, and so somehow convince God that we are really like children. Rather it is to respond to God’s invitation and accept God’s grace. In particular, it is to recognise that God loves us unconditionally, just as a father loves his child, and even more so.
Growing up to be a child, p149-150
Prayer: Encountering God
As you near the end of these contemplative companions, I would encourage you to look back on previous exercises. Choose a meditation exercise from one of the other chapters that you found helpful and return to it now, spending time again waiting on the Holy One and encountering God’s grace in your life: through scripture; through creation, music, art, the media; through silence; through the prayer of examen.
Perhaps there are prayer practices you have discovered which you can build into a regular rhythm of life.
Click here to see a full list of the chapters and meditation exercises
As a response to God, and in anticipation of going forward with God, use this ‘dressing’ exercise from Growing up to be a child. It is based on Paul’s description of the armour of God in Ephesians 6: 10-17
As you read through the passage, imagine yourself putting on this armour, praying through each element as you put it on:
Put on the belt of truth around your waist.
Ask God to make you truthful in all your thoughts, words, and deeds. Confess any lies, half-truths, or hypocrisy in your life. Commit to striving for truth in all you do.
Put on a breastplate of righteousness.
Ask that your heart will be solely devoted to seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness. Ask God to help you live in right relationship with him and with other people – in purity of thought, word, and deed. Reflect on Paul’s exhortation: ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.’
Put on the shoes of the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Commit yourself to spreading Jesus’s good news of peace. Ask God to give you courage to live and speak for him. Ask him to lead you to places, people, and situations where you can bring the blessings of God’s kingdom.
Take up the shield of faith.
Recognise your vulnerability and ask for God’s protection in all you come across. Ask him to help you trust him. If you are feeling particularly vulnerable or under attack, think of God’s promises that may help you to counter these attacks.
Put on the helmet of salvation.
Thank God for his salvation, through which you have been set free to be the person God created you to be. Ask God to protect your mind from all unwanted thoughts and any sense of unworthiness, anxiety, or hopelessness.
Take up the sword of the spirit.
Reflect on anything you have read from God’s Word recently. Ask God to help you remember his Word and use it in the situations you might face today. Ask him to give you words to say to others that will bring comfort, healing , hope, and peace.
Closing: Going on in God’s presence
Finish your time by saying the Lord’s Prayer.
 Philippians 4:8.