As you might suspect, Contemplative Prayer offers forms of prayer that are quiet, thoughtful, and meditative. These are descriptors of what part of the prayer looks like to an observer. Yet, the various forms of Contemplative Prayer handed down to us originally from the desert Mothers and Fathers are anything but dull. Contemplative Prayer exists to place us into an intensely personal, open-hearted space with the Creator of the Universe. If that is not scary-exciting, I don't know what is. The second part of Contemplative Praying is to live life with the expansive Spirit of God as your companion. Contemplative Prayer touches you from the inside out. You become more Christ-like, Christ in you (some call it union with God). A beautiful place to live in and out of.
What are some different kinds of Contemplative Prayer? Click HERE.
"My life is listening. His is speaking. My salvation is to hear and respond. For this my life must be silent. Hence, my silence is my salvation."
Fr. Thomas Merton
Contemplative Prayers are simple, but that does not make them easy to do. Too many believers today equate busy-ness with church things as an accomplishment (or worse, godliness), but busy often means activity, not real connection or community. Finding real depth and deep sharing for any relationship takes time and intention - precisely what prayerful contemplation teaches us.
It is one thing to say 'God loves us,' but to have true love in a one to one closeness is something we can embody - with the Christ, the Spirit of Wholeness, and the Creator of all that lives and moves and has infinite being: this is Abundant Life.
IF… you are ready to move your relationship with God from transactional to transformational, consider taking up one or more Contemplative Prayer practices. If you also want to learn your personal patterns of action and avoidance, consider looking into the Enneagram and its spiritual dimensions. This will allow you to flourish in body, mind, and soul. My dream for the world is for it to become a place of wholeness where Flourishing Souls abound everywhere.
"There is something about solitude and silence, something that makes them both desirable and awe-ful. I fear the silence. I fear that God won't speak. I fear what I may hear, or that I may not hear."
Forms of Contemplative Prayer
Because Contemplative Prayer has both quiet and active dimensions, the sampling of prayers listed below include both quiet and active forms.
Sometimes called Divine Reading or Lectio Divina (sometimes pronounced Lex-ee-oh Da-veen-ah). This is not Bible Study; it is Scripture listening. This is reading the Scriptures to listen for insights or a word from God. It is reading a passage openly, meditatively. In fact, it is rereading a passage over and over to hear and listen to it (called meditatio). It is praying the words (oratio), and allowing the message within it seep into the soul (contemplation).
Follow the Apostle Paul's words to 'pray without ceasing' the ancient church has developed the prayer of the 'sinner in the temple' praying, "Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner." Anyone who becomes accustomed to this Prayer will experience great comfort as well as the need to say it continuously. He will become accustomed to it to such a degree that he will not be able to do without it and eventually the Prayer will flow in him." – Tony Jones, The Sacred Way
A prayer to quiet the mind and release distractions to open one's heart to the heart of God and just be present in that space: loved and accepted. Two twenty minutes Centering Prayer sits a day is recommended.
“Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer — verbal, mental or affective prayer — into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.” - www.centeringprayer.com
The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God's presence and discern God's direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God's hand at work in our whole experience. Click here to learn more.
"Spiritual direction is the contemplative practice of helping another person or group to awaken to the mystery called God in all of life, and to respond to that discovery in a growing relationship of freedom and commitment." - James Keegan
Fixed hours of prayer every day has been a part of the Christian tradition from the very beginning. Certain traditions offer differing numbers of daily prayer and what is to be prayed. Often, the Daily Office prayers can be chanted to add beauty and dimension to experiencing the scripture and prayers offered. Phyllis Tickle has authored books for each season with pointing for chanting called The Divine Hours.
"A labyrinth is technically just a pattern on the ground for walking, and has a circuitous route to a center. Unlike a maze, there are no wrong turns; the path in is the same as the path out. There are no tricks to it. Labyrinths date back as far as 2500 B.C." – Tony Jones, The Sacred Path.
It is a prayer path with benefits too numerous to elaborate here. It is an experience with God.
Crossing oneself, raising hands in prayer, kneeling, praying with beads, and more recently praying while drawing (Praying in Color), walking, or using the bodily movement in conscious prayers, are all physical ways to pray. Artwork and music as a form of prayer. Using kinesthetics as we pray is recognition that human beings are a unified in the image of God. We do not have a body, mind, and soul – we are a body, mind, and soul inextricably united. Like God, three parts that make one whole unity.
There are more prayer practices to explore, including Stations of the Cross, Fasting, Sabbath, Pilgrimage, Service, etc. Many of these practices listed above can be found in The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life. Tony Jones, Zondervon: Grand Rapids, 2005.