Spiritual Reflection: Inviting God into Our Moments
Christian nurses can go deeper with spiritual reflection through continuous prayer or contemplation (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Contemplation brings the quietness of the mind, the openness of the spirit, and the softness of the heart experienced during times in prayer. Contemplation moves prayer into the moments, the minutes, and the hours of our day.
Continuous prayer begins daily by making God a priority and placing ourselves in positions to learn (Luke 10:39, 41). This intentionality is experienced “in hearts entirely surrendered to the Lord Jesus, in hearts separating themselves from the world, and even from ordinary religious exercises, and giving themselves up in intense prayer to look to their Lord” (Murray, 1895, p. 22). Our prayer becomes a time to relinquish ourselves to God for his purpose (Matthew 6:10). This openness or reflection “can awaken in one's soul the capacity for deep concentration and insight” (Kumar, 2011, p. 141).
Quieting our minds can be challenging, both personally and professionally. Suggestions include taking time to listen, ponder, and reflect during daily devotional and prayer time. Instead of reading a chapter, spend several days on a single verse or short passage, marinating or musing on the content—gleaning the richness of the wisdom of God (Psalm 119:27, 97, 148). Meditate on phrases from a favorite liturgy, prayer, hymn, or reading. Kofoed (2011, Table 3) provides various “Biblical Themes for Reflection” that include God's power, Christ's ministry, God's blessings, and others, with accompanying Scripture. Imagine the outcome when we purposefully implement Scripture into our lives (John 14:1; James 1:22-25).
Also, take time to purposefully listen during times of prayer. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, ESV). A moment of silence opens our spirit to listen to the Holy Spirit's presence and guidance (John 14:26). Many of us are not naturally quiet and still, myself included. Thus, implementing times of silence and listening into daily prayers takes time, commitment, practice, and patience. “The simple act of coming before the Lord in prayer, in whatever way we are able at a particular time, is a spiritual activity worthy of His blessing” (O'Brien, 2003, p. 126).
Our communion with God, directed by the Holy Spirit, overflows into our nursing practice. Guided by God, our hands graciously extend, our hearts soften to empathize and listen, while our words soothe and guide. “Biblical reflective practices quiet the mind, while contemplation on God and his words, work, and world begin to transform the relationships we have with others and ourselves” (Kumar, 2011, p. 142). Neither the environment nor the people have changed; we have!
O'Brien reveals, “It is only in prayer, however, that I can become free enough to be used by God's purpose instead of my own, that I can become secure enough to accept personal emptiness, in order that I may be filled with His love” (2003, p. 25). The relinquishing, the silence, and the focus come from an intimate relationship with God, forged through times of prayer and devotion. Refocusing and regrouping throughout the day can reset our minds on the Holy Spirit's purpose, gleaned from our earlier prayer time (Philippians 4:8). “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, ESV).