Notice as you breathe in and as you breathe out
Begin today’s prayer by taking a few moments to move more deeply into quiet by focussing on your own breathing. It’s important that you don’t try and change its rhythm or depth. All you have to do is notice it. Notice as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Be aware of the air being drawn in to your lungs; and then aware, too, of it being returned to the atmosphere as you breathe out. Simply and calmly, pay attention now to your next half-dozen breaths.
Let your attention stay with the Spirit at the heart of yourself
- This time, as you breathe in, let your attention follow your breath into your chest. In Hebrew, the words for “breath” and “spirit”, as in the Holy Spirit, are the same. So imagine breathing in God’s breath, God’s Spirit, and letting the centre of yourself become flooded with the Spirit’s warmth and light.
- Now let your breathing continue, quietly in the background, but let your attention stay with the Spirit at the heart of yourself, just resting there in that place of quiet stillness.
- And in that place of quiet stillness, pay attention to the word of God as it comes to you now in this passage from the Book of Ruth.
Ruth 2: 8 - 13
Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped, and follow behind them. I have ordered the young men not to bother you. If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.’ Then she fell prostrate, with her face to the ground, and said to him, ‘Why have I found favour in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?’ But Boaz answered her, ‘All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!’ Then she said, ‘May I continue to find favour in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I am not one of your servants.’
Recall an occasion when you have been on the receiving end of some unexpected kindness
- According to the list of the ancestors of Jesus that Matthew offers at the beginning of his gospel, Boaz and Ruth are the great-grandparents of King David. Ruth is only the second woman that Matthew mentions here. It’s all the more surprising, then, that she is a foreigner, not one of the Chosen People at all. She comes originally from Moab, a country on the far side of the Dead Sea from Israel. Are you aware in yourself, or among people you know, of any suspicion towards, or distrust of, foreigners? Does that give you a sense of how Ruth might have been regarded by the Jews she was living among?
- As we join this story, Ruth is a poor widow, caring for her elderly mother-in-law. She is trying to earn a living by gathering grain in the fields of Boaz, a rich nobleman in Jewish society. At first she doesn’t realise that she has caught his eye, and that he has asked his men to protect her. Can you recall an occasion when you have been on the receiving end of some unexpected kindness? Can that experience help you to get a clearer sense of what Ruth is feeling in this passage?
Talking to the Lord
Where are you most aware of God working through the everyday events of your life
- Boaz has heard how Ruth left her own country, and how after she was widowed she cared for her mother-in-law Naomi. He prays that God will reward and protect her. At the same time he offers her his own support and, eventually, his love. Their child, Obed, will be the next step on the line leading to Christ. God is shown to be working through the everyday kindness and mutual attraction of these two people to fulfil his plans. Where are you most aware of God working through the everyday events and relationships of your own life?
- As you finish this time of prayer, speak to God for a moment or two about some of the unexpected people who have helped you to come closer to God in your own life. Maybe you could be on the lookout this week for God working through the least likely people around you.