I begin by spending a few moments trying to settle my mind. I am one of those people whose mind chases 10,000 thoughts and I have to purpose myself to be in the moment. It is so easy to find my mind wondering and wandering. Typically, I can calm my mind some before I begin this prayer, never perfectly, and sometimes not at all. On those days, quite frankly, I try to spend my time simply quieting my mind, which in and of itself is an important practice.
After I quiet my mind some, I begin to pray through a list of character qualities I want to develop in my life together with their opposites. As I am slowly inhaling, I will pray, for example, "make me more loving." As I exhale slowly, I will pray, "rid me of hate." I do that for each of the traits, or as many as the morning allows.
Here is my current master list.
- Try to do this everyday, even if it is just a part of it.
- Write down the list on a note card to reference as you are praying. The words will eventually begin to take root, but it takes some time and help.
- Visualization can help. As I am praying each of the words, I will sometimes picture a color I would associate with each word. For example, peace may be white; cruelty, black. It can also be beneficial to picture plucking fruit from a tree associated with each word.
- Listen. If you are praying slowly enough, you can listen for and begin to hear the Holy Spirit. As you pray, what is He telling you? Sometimes, a certain word will trigger me and I will sit and ponder it for a bit--sometimes with curiosity, sometimes with confession.
- Choose a word to bring with you for the day. If you are going to be interacting with difficult family, perhaps you meditate on patience.
- As you conclude, thank God that He promises to sanctify you by His grace and ask Him to carry these characteristics forward into your day.
Train yourself for righteousness.
Train yourself to watch for the Spirit's movement.
And above all, thank God for His continual grace toward you.
If you want a Google Docs printout to put in your Bible, you can follow this link.