Joanna Weaver published “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding God in the Busyness of Life” in 2000, which seems long ago. Yet, her quiet voice on the page is timeless … one of the most influential I’ve heard in my Christian mindfulness walk.
Jesus’ words to Martha are the words he wants to speak to your heart and mine: “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” That “one thing” is not found in doing more. It’s found in sitting by his feet.
Throughout the book, Joanna shows that Jesus wants us to choose the one thing: “a joyful life of intimacy with him that flows naturally into loving service.” For women who feel that they are not enough, it is a soothing balm.
On Goodreads, the book has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars with nearly 16,000 reviews. The copy of the book I have includes a study guide for individual or group use. To taste the tone of the book, here’s another gift: a version of Psalm 23 from Japan.
The Lord is my pace setter … I shall not rush.
He makes me stop for quiet intervals.
He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity.
He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his presence is here.
His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the Pace of the Lord and dwell in his house forever.
Additional resources for Christian mindfulness are listed here.
We use readings from these books as devotionals for our support groups, where we serve individuals diagnosed with severe mental illness and their families.
I also use the books as part of my daily prayer round in lectio divina. I read the passage, pause to ponder it, pray parts of it out loud and then meditate on it. I rotate using Jesus Calling, Dear Jesus, Jesus Always, Jesus Today and Jesus Lives. The Jesus Calling app is one of the most used items on my phone.
Sarah Young began to write her books of devotions based on her own daily quiet time, which includes journaling. The retired Presbyterian missionary has an extraordinary ability to help people connect to the Biblical truths in a warm and loving manner.
More than 30 million of her books have been sold. Although she is biblically conservative in her faith and reformed in her doctrine, I’ve never met a Christian … liberal or conservative … who objects to her work. It is so Bible-based as to be universal.
Please enjoy some time with the Lord under her guidance.
Other resources that are useful to me are located here.
Henri J.M. Nouwen responded with the manuscript for “Life of the Beloved.” Nouwen avoided spiritual “Christian-ese” and theology. He told his friend about how much God loved him and what knowledge of that love does to a person.
Nouwen’s friend still didn’t get it. At first, Nouwen thought he had failed. But the response among others who read the manuscript was overwhelming positive.
Considered one of the greatest spiritual writers of the 20th century, Nouwen was a Catholic religious who taught at Harvard, Yale and Notre Dame. He spent 10 years living and serving in a community of the developmentally disabled called L’Arche Daybreak in Toronto.
Just flipping through the book gives you gems of wisdom:
“The world is only evil when you are its slave.”
“The problem of modern living is that we are too busy to notice that we are being blessed.”
“The real question is not ‘What can we offer each other?’ but ‘What can we be for each other?’ “
“Life of the Beloved” is a masterwork, well worth your time.
I’m taking an excellent course on Dallas Willard‘s “Life Without Lack,” taught by his associate Jan Johnson. This week I am meditating on this prayer that Willard wrote. I wanted to share it and to encourage you to read the book.
Christian mindfulness is all about filling our lives and minds with Jesus. We do this through intentional practices and through continually returning our thoughts to Him. We seek to keep His face ever before us.
It’s not easy. It is 99% grace and 1% intention. God fills us with joy and peace as we open ourselves up to Him. As Ruth Haley Barton puts it, we go from “in the world for God” to “in God for the world.”
Lord, minister to me by your Spirit. Come into my heart and mind, and release me from all inward tension and anxiety.
Hold before my mind the truth that I have nothing to fear from Satan, for you have defeated him; all I must do is fill my life and my mind with you.
Remind me often, especially in the midst of difficulty, that you, who are in me, are greater than he who is in the world.
Help me to carry this truth with me as I contemplate the awesome reality of the spiritual battle taking place, a battle that, perhaps in our time, is moving perceptively closer to its climax.
Give me the vision of you who are: our Father who art in heaven, the Shepherd in whose presence there is no lack, so I may have the confidence and power to love and to live as Jesus lived.
In his name, Amen.
Dallas Willard, “Life Without Lack”
For more information on the “Life With Lack” course, click here. I am just a student, not affiliated with the course in any way. For more information on Ruth Haley Barton’s books and other resources, click here.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and world-renowned mindfulness teacher, has a strong, but streamlined, message. While this makes many of his books somewhat repetitive, “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life” is one of the best.
The book has 5 stars with 971 ratings on Amazon and 4.3 stars with 27,191 ratings on GoodReads. If you only read one book by Thich Nhat Hanh, this is it.
Thich Nhat Hanh divided this book into three sections:
Breathe! You Are Alive
Transformation and Healing
Peace Is Every Step
Packed with mindfulness exercises, the book contains several ideas that especially spoke to me. He writes about the Eucharist as a practice of awareness of the presence of Christ, which it truly is.
He calls often for us to look more deeply, especially at people who we find repulsive. We do not know what we could have become had we lived that other person’s life, Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us.
What we need to work on is transforming ourselves into a light. “When you have become fresh and pleasant, the other person will notice soon,” he writes.
“When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight. When you see in yourself the wish that the other person would stop suffering, that is the beginning of real love.”
Amen to that. For other reviews on Christian mindfulness resources, click here.
John Eldredge released “Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad” in February. Then the world went madder.
The only real advice that went out of date by March were the steps to unplug from technology overload. Toning it down is smart, but technology has proven its value during the pandemic.
Otherwise, Eldredge encourages:
Inserting multiple One-Minute (or longer) Pauses in our day.
Turning everyone and everything over to God through benevolent detachment.
Being kind to yourself.
Enjoying the beauty of nature often.
Eldredge is an outdoorsman who lived in Colorado with acreage, mountains and horses. His ways of seeking Christian mindfulness reflect that.
Overall, the book on Christian mindfulness practices is a gentle read. It has a 5-star review from nearly 300 people on Amazon and a 4.6-star review from 380 people on GoodReads. Eldredge also created an app, One Minute Pause, for the exercises in the book.
The book encouraged me to use benevolent detachment multiple times a day, particularly as a new opening to my nightly examen practice.
Live from Rest is a Bible-based Christian meditation app that’s free and easy to use.
You can create dozens of meditation sessions in a variety of categories: shorts, rest, gratitude, centering, family, mindfulness, 12 steps, freedom and songs. The app allows you to set the duration, the backing music or sounds, and the option to have focus bells.
Live from Rest has a choice of four voices to offer some of the meditations. Bible verses and themes are used in all the guided meditations. You can also use the app as a timer for silent meditation.
Hope Mindfulness and Prayer app presents mindfulness and meditation in Christian form. As the narrator describes it in the opening video, “Meditation is the ship, and Jesus is the captain.”
This app … use the whole name as other apps are also shortened to Hope … has a five-star rating with 105 reviews in the Apple app store. It’s an especially good app for beginners in Christian mindfulness. The graphics are well done, and it’s easy to navigate.
The 12-day guide called the Foundation for the practices is free. Getting the other meditations costs you a subscription, which is $10 a month or $70 a year.
If you pay that, you get access to hundreds of meditations in these categories:
Life (anxiety, stress, purpose, self-esteem, loneliness, disappointment)
Rest (sleep and relaxation)
Carpe Diem (energy, creativity, balance, productivity)
Hallow is a comprehensive app for contemplative prayer and Christian meditation. Listed as the No. 1 Catholic app, its rich resources provide good material for Christians of any denomination.
The app has close to 500 sessions. When you download it, you are asked to pick areas that you are interested in, such as daily Gospel, night prayer and meditation, or prayer lists, which are topics with multiple prayers and teachings.
The app also includes the Rosary, the examen, lector divine, spiritual journaling and chantings. Hallow allows us to build a community with friends and family. It also offers a habit tracker, journal and notifications.
The home page of the app includes a prayer plan filled with options based on your choices and a group of minute meditations.
Hallow has received a 4.9 rating from 8,700 users on Apple. It’s $8.99 a month or $60 a year with the first three months free (and the ability to cancel.)
The app provides “a place to develop the practice of pausing and releasing everyone and everything to God.” This is part of what Eldredge calls “benevolent detachment.”
Users take a pause for 1, 3, 5 or 10 minutes. As the app is set up, a user must do a specific number of the shorter pauses before moving up in time. It also provides a reminder function that can alert you of a time you set to take a pause.
During the pauses, Eldredge helps users with the prayer: “Jesus, I give everyone and everything to you.”
The app stems from Eldredge’s book, “Get Your Life Back: Everything Practices in a World Gone Mad,” which was just published in February. The practices include kindness, outdoor activities and reduction in use of technology, as well as the one-minute pause and benevolent detachment. The book is highly rated on Goodreads and Barnes & Noble.
Essays on benevolent detachment, union with God and healing the soul also are available on the app.
Eldredge created the app before the coronavirus pandemic. He has placed a message of encouragement about the quarantine on the app. It contains one of the wisest messages about the pandemic that I’ve heard: “The world is frankly no more uncertain than it ever was. And God remains absolutely as certain as He ever was.”