Forums Spiritual Theology 2.1: Contemplative Prayer

  • 2.1: Contemplative Prayer

     Anonymous updated 1 year ago 15 Members · 50 Posts
  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 3, 2020 at 7:35 am

    For your own spiritual growth and maturity, what might an engagement with contemplative spirituality and prayer mean for you? How might it challenge you? Reflect personally on your own experiences or curiosity about it.

    Due: Initial posts due by 10/7, responses to at least two peers by 10/9

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 5, 2020 at 6:21 pm

    Out of all of the spiritual disciplines, I have to admit that I struggle the most with prayer; especially contemplative prayer. The combination of my background in both Catholic and Evangelical spirituality along with having been raised by an emotionally abusive mother and then married to an emotionally abusive woman has led me to a place where it becomes difficult to silence the self-imposed criticism in times of stillness. For much of my life, it played out well — after all, idle hands and all that. As a Japanese-American, the idea of working hard to avoid failure also translates into those inner voices, because being still meant not doing the work that is always there, waiting to be done.

    How does one find stillness and space from those voices? That’s the challenge that is in front of me at this point.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 6, 2020 at 10:07 am

      Ellie, I appreciate your vulnerability. I’m so sorry. Your abuse is important to consider when considering contemplative prayer. I’d probably name what you’re describing as trauma, and I’m more cautious and more vigilant inviting folks who’ve experienced trauma into extended silence because of how loud those voices can be. It doesn’t surprise me to hear of your experience. And while I think contemplation (like other meditative practices) can help us move from anxiety to peace/healing, I’d probably encourage you to find other practices until you can process this with a good trauma informed spiritual director or spiritually-oriented therapist. Sometimes it takes listening to and working with those inner voices first. All that said, though, I am so grateful you offered such an honest response here. -Chuck

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 6, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      I totally identify with what you’re saying here. I have lots of inner voices that tell me I’m not good enough. I learned as a child that I had to be “good” and “nice” in order to be loved, and that’s something that’s really hard to shake. Moments of silence can be difficult, since there’s nothing going on to drown out those negative inner voices. I find it much easier to pray through music and songs, which do a better job of distracting me from negative inner voices. I do believe that there is something to be learned from silence though, and I would like to be better at it – I think for me it will just take a lot more practice.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 8, 2020 at 5:23 pm

      Ellie, thank you so much for sharing your perspective here. I’ve just gotten started on regular contemplative practices myself and have found something like the Jesus prayer or centering prayer or anything with a phrase/word I can focus on aligning my breathing with has been a helpful starting point to quieting unruly thoughts. I wonder if starting there before moving to a place of being completely still/silent would be helpful for you as well?

      In any case, blessings and grace to you on this courageous journey!

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 8, 2020 at 7:56 pm

        Ellie. I appreciate what you share so much. I do something similar to Amanda and recently the Jesus Prayer has been my “go-to”.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 9, 2020 at 8:05 am

      So I did an interview on an enneagram podcast once, and I talked about the anxiety/shame spiral (there are so many things to get done! I fear failure!) I sometimes get in (I’m an enneagram 3), and the “mantra” I repeat to myself it “God is good. God is powerful. God loves me”. All 3 of those things have to be true, because if God is good and loves me but is not powerful, than the things I worry about won’t be accomplished. if God loves me and is powerful but not good, then I worry about the quality/quantity of God’s plans for me. If God is powerful and good but does not love me, then I receive displeasure and judgement. I will repeat those three things over and over until my spirit can quiet, and then I can be still. I hope this can help!

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 11, 2020 at 4:57 pm

        I really appreciate you sharing this personal mantra, SueAnn: “God is good. God is powerful. God loves me.” That feels very grounding and helpful. One of my struggles with intentional, silent prayer is that I want to “do” something (which, it sounds like, you also experience). This sounds like a helpful way to re-orient my attention and combat that urge. Thank you!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 9, 2020 at 8:43 pm

      Ellie, I can relate to at least some of your experience. I too, having grown up in an evangelical context, find this practice VERY challenging. I also find the idea of reciting wrote prayers to be a new concept. As I’m moving through this lesson, I’m realizing that I have missed out on such a rich prayer tradition. I’m also realizing how much I need to practice this tradition right now. There is so much chaos going on around all of us. It feels so appropriate to incorporate this new mode of prayer in this season of life.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 5, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Pentecostal and charismatic spaces, so I was taught forms of contemplative prayer since childhood. It’s the form of prayer I’m most comfortable with and feel most connected to God through. I found many parallels between my experience and Barbara Holmes’ descriptions of contemplative practices in the black church. In the churches I grew up in, there was emphasis on being still before God, hosting God’s shekinah presence, and the engaging in communal mystic experiences. These days, I’m curious about how to make sense of contemplative experiences, both of others’ and my own. As Holmes says, the “contemplative moment is a spiritual event that kisses the cognitive but will not be enslaved to its rigidities” (3). This makes contemplative moments so difficult to talk about, and to parse out where the voice of God ends and our own interpretations of the experience begin. I have seen people interpret mystic experiences in a way that defends abuse, political persuasions, or questionable life decisions. I wonder if there is a way to develop a hermeneutic for “reading” contemplative experiences that still honors the mystic quality of the experience?

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 6, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      I have done a lot of reading about mystical experiences, which seems to be exactly the wrong way to actually connect to a mystical experience, ha ha. Coming out of a protestant evangelical tradition, we tend to keep spirituality in the head, maybe in the heart, but never in the body. To this day when it comes to religious ideas I’m most interested in the bible, learning more about its historical and cultural context. While I do think this is valuable knowledge, it can’t really replace the kind of spiritual knowledge that can be gained through contemplation and mystical experiences. While I’ve never experienced it myself, I’m very interested in religious experiences facilitated by ayahuasca or other traditional plant medicines. I’m hesitant to try it myself not just because of the stigma against mind-altering substances, but because my Western goal-oriented mind sees them as a kind of spiritual short cut that I’m all too eager to try in order to avoid the hard work of silent contemplation. Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble – you’ve given me a lot to think about! 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 6, 2020 at 8:22 pm

      Your experience is teaching me. I have those same questions on my mind about contemplative prayer, wondering where God’s voice ends and mine begins. And seeing it used it wrong ways gives me pause too. But I guess, like with any practice, it can be used for bad or good. But it makes me think more about everything as I engage with some of this stuff for the first time.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 7, 2020 at 3:04 pm

      I really appreciate your post. And I love the work of Barbara Holmes. I think you’re right about mystical experiences, though – they can be used by narcissistic leaders for abusive purposes as proof of their authority. Classically there was a means of testing these experiences but sometimes this hierarchical and patriarchal structure silenced women. I don’t know the answer but you raise a good question.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 9, 2020 at 8:47 pm

        Chuck, thank you for sharing this. I got deeply involved in charismatic and Pentecostal churches from around 16 years old until about 35. I experienced my fair share of spiritual abuse and narcissism from leadership. Because of this, I’ve found reconnecting with mysticism to be very difficult. So much of how I understand mystical experiences – well all of my understanding – comes from these same charismatic and Pentecostal churches. Exploring contemplative spirituality and mysticism in this space feels safe. I am open to learn and re-learn.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 8, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      Understanding where God’s voice ends and ours begins is something I really struggle with. I think it’s true on an individual level but also as you so aptly point out on a corporate/group level. I am skeptic by nature and sometimes find it very difficult to surrender to mystical experiences for fear that I or someone else might misinterpret them or worse, purposely use them for their own gain.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 9, 2020 at 8:50 pm

        Your words describe exactly where I am. I had such a bad experience in my previous charismatic/Pentecostal world, I now really struggle to know what is truly mystical and what I’m conjuring up. I am excited to explore these questions in this setting, though!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 9, 2020 at 8:20 am

      My father asked me once how I knew what the will of God was (a good question!), and I responded by saying that it was a combination of the Holy Spirit, scripture, and community. I think that the Holy Spirit is present in our context/community, we need the Spirit to interpret scripture, scripture to interpret the spirit, and then the community around is also engaging in all of those as well by our side. I think the issue of abuse is super important, and the way I’ve started to parse it out is through the community part of it because like you and others have said here, how do you know if its your voice or the Holy Spirit in your head? Jesus tells us that you tell a false prophet by their fruits, and in the places where these mystical experiences are brought forth with spiritual authority, we can judge its truthfulness or worthiness based on the effect it has, and to me in the last few years, I feel like I’ve seen a lot of very present and real trauma (in the body and Body) that points to the bad fruit? If the consequences of sin are death, the thief comes to lie, steal, and destroy–follow the trail of destruction left in its path? I know that when I received comforting words of the Holy Spirit convicting me, I was afraid that it was myself or the devil trying to lead me astray, and I prayed that God would strike down those thoughts in me if they were anything other than God. and then, unlooked for, God brought me reassurance in my community to show me that I was not crazy, and over a year wandering in the wilderness later, started to bear more fruits in my life and those around me. It isn’t a science, and it is messy and requires patience to let the wheat grow with the tares, but I do think that God gives us tools to help us discern and contextualize these experiences.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 9, 2020 at 12:07 pm

        Hi Sueann,

        I appreciate how you’ve engaged your community so much in your process of getting to know the voice of God. I think that’s so important. Something that might complicate the process of people judging good and bad “fruit” is the assumption that there is a consensus within your community on what is good and bad, or that we can always fully know.

        I’ve been thinking about the story of Paul a lot lately. His message that the Gentiles did not need to keep the Torah was distressing for many Jews, including the original disciples of Jesus. James and Peter––who knew Jesus when he was alive––preached the need to keep Torah. We know which message won out in history. However, if I was in the middle of that debate, I probably would have believed the apostles who preached the need to keep Torah. They had personal interaction with Jesus and the whole Hebrew Bible to back them up. Paul just claimed to have a mystic experience and pulled this new theology out of the air. Surely many of the apostles judged Paul’s ministry as bearing “bad fruit” as they assessed Paul’s preaching among their community.

        Anyways. I think God is good in meeting us even in the midst of all that we don’t know. Still, I want to approach even the idea of claiming to know the voice of God with humility, and to acknowledge that many mysteries will be worked out in the generations that will come after me.

        • Anonymous

          Deleted User
          October 13, 2020 at 6:20 pm

          I’ve thought about this scenario a lot as well Yising! As well as thinking about what it would have been like to be a disciple of Jesus and believe that this random carpenter from Nazareth was the Son of God — I feel like I probably would have taken the position of religious leaders in not believing him because that seems like the safer, “good” option. I love that you’ve called out humility here, even with the great criteria that SueAnn provided, in figuring out what God is saying and acknowledging that that might change from time to time. I’d have to think that Pete Enns would agree with you here!

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 6, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    I have trouble with silence. In my religious upbringing, both words and music were highly valued, and silence rarely played a part in our corporate worship. To this day when I try to pray in silence I have a lot of trouble with loud thoughts. The exception to this is when I can be in nature, truly away from other people and human sounds. In this setting, sometimes, I feel I am able to be in God’s presence in the silence. It reminds me of something Anne Frank wrote: “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.” <font face=”inherit”>Still, I struggle with how to take this silence back with me when I return to my noisy life. I am more attracted to what Carl McColman’s blog calls “meditative prayer,” which uses repetitive words. Especially when these are familiar words, like the Lord’s Prayer, I can get to a place where I feel a kind of </font>transcendence – I’m not saying the prayer so much as the prayer is saying me, if that makes any sense. So even though getting into these new practices can be frustrating, I do want to try and explore them more, since when I really do practice them – over and over, like practicing the piano – I do feel a unique connection to God.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 8, 2020 at 7:51 pm

      Jessica, I really identify with connecting to God in nature. I love to be outside and find I am more able to surrender to deep thought and prayer when I am out in God’s creation. I also love the feeling of standing near the rim of the Grand Canyon (I grew up in AZ) or near the ocean and the expanse that you see opening up before you. Those are the times I feel God’s presence most inately.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 9, 2020 at 12:34 am

      It’s funny that you mention your connection with nature. I find myself able to connect with God best when at the beach, listening to the crashing waves and feeling the cold water of the Pacific lapping at my feet. I find that I communicate best with God by allowing Him to guide my fingers as I play the piano.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 11, 2020 at 5:03 pm

      Thanks for the Anne Frank quote, Jessica. That longing for the outdoors is something I certainly have experienced more and more lately, during the need to shelter-in-place and amidst the wildfires here in CA. But I also agree that being outdoors “does” something to my prayer life, too—I feel “closer” to God in these spaces—walking beside the water, surrounded by looming Redwoods—than I do indoors. I wonder if adding some nature background noise to times of “silent” prayer could be helpful to help recreate this experience indoors. It’s something I’m going to try out, thanks to what you shared!

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 6, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    Contemplative prayer appeals to me for so many reasons yet I find it very difficult. I love the idea that “God is closer to you than you are to yourself” and the intimacy of the imagery of God holding us close, but I am in constant motion. Mindfulness and meditation are things I have always found helpful but I am a very active and busy person and it is difficult to relinquish to contemplative prayer even though it is exactly what I need to be doing. This is why I love the idea of it as a “practice” meaning there is no perfect way to do it. I’m excited to commit to it during this unit as I do want to spend more time in intentional prayer.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 6, 2020 at 8:19 pm

      I totally relate to being so busy. Also, thank you for reminding me of that quote. “God is closer to you than you are to yourself.”

      That is something I have to think about more for sure.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 7, 2020 at 5:52 am

      Thanks for the reminder again of Augustine’s “God is closer to you than you are to yourself.” It’s because of that that we don’t have to struggle so hard with this. It’s like God is whispering from within, drawing us more near even if we’re barely listening.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 8, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      I also love the idea of it being a “practice” and something that we can come back to and try again and again. It is so much easier to return when there is no “end goal” but rather the experience of doing contemplative prayer itself that is the main “reward”.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 6, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    I have never really engaged in contemplative prayer. In the past I have shied away from anything that would have sounded to me like, “eastern meditation,” and I was taught not to trust types of prayer that did not actively engage the mind, as that could open oneself up to demonic voices.

    Crazy, right? Though my understanding has drastically changed about the subject, I’ve still been hesitant to try it out. Most people I mention this to, have suggested that it is because I’m afraid of silence, or going deep. (They know me as a very upbeat and extroverted person.) But I do not think this is the case. I often pursue silence, and regularly take time to pay attention to what I’m feeling, what my mind is focused on and why, ect. I often find myself retreating to my thoughts as a way to relax, to calm down, and destress. So why have I avoided contemplative prayer? Because the idea of it feels more like stress than relaxation, which is the point of it. Being silent in my environment sounds nice. Trying to pursue silence in my mind sounds futile, or worse, detrimental.

    I’m learning that I might be wrong about that, however. So I am curious. I do want to learn how to listen to the voice of God. In the past I have felt burned because, in seeking the voice of God, I have not received it. But I have to understand that contemplative prayer is not a search for the miraculous, but more a seeking for discipline. It is about practicing a posture of listening, and that is a challenge that I need to face in my spiritual walk.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 7, 2020 at 5:54 am

      Eric, I love this. All it takes is a bit of curiosity. That’s what I love about the Newbigin Fellowship, in general…the invitation to deepening curiosity.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 8, 2020 at 7:14 pm

      Eric, I appreciate how you shared so vulnerably about feeling disappointed when you seek the voice of God and haven’t heard anything. I think what you said about contemplative prayer as a discipline to develop a posture of listening to God is such a great articulation of it. In my experience, contemplation forms my ability to hear the voice of God. Sometimes the practice of listening takes months, years, before whatever noise in my head that kept me from hearing what God had to say begins to fade away, and I can finally receive the voice of God. Praying that you would experience God speaking to you in a way that fills exactly what you need right now.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 10, 2020 at 12:09 am

      Eric – you are not alone in that line of thinking. Deep breathing and “centering oneself” was often seen as connected to Yoga and Eastern mysticism in more conservative circles, and so they were constantly pushed aside.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 7, 2020 at 11:58 am

    I began practicing Centering Prayer about 3 years ago and was eager to see where it would take me. I’m an active person with a lot of energy, but I’ve also learned over the years that this activity was part of the coping mechanism for avoiding the pain and discomfort of my past. (Unfortunately my energy and ability to get things done is precisely what my church communities most highly prized, which gave me no incentive to slow down or ask the deeper questions about my restless need to fill the quiet spaces of my life!)

    It wasn’t until I attended the Living School with Richard Rohr––and when a daily practice of meditation was set as a core requirement of our work––that I began giving myself permission to fall into the silence. Nothing was expected of me. My restless spirit had nowhere to go. And there in the quiet, the tears flowed, followed by the sure sense of God’s presence abiding within. This opened up a season with a therapist and spiritual director, lots of unloading, and the long road to healing and integration.

    A short while after graduating I went on a 5-day Insight Meditation retreat at a Buddhist retreat center and discovered there were other gifts waiting for me in the silence too: ease and friendliness towards myself! These two practices of Centering Prayer and Insight Meditation (along with a necessary daily dose of Loving Kindness) have been at the root of so much healing and transformation––and have proven true what we were taught in the Living School: that an entirely different operating system is necessary to truly grow up and show up for ourselves and the challenges being faced by the world.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 7, 2020 at 2:59 pm

      Mary, what a gift to do the living school! I was first introduced to Rohr in the late 90’s and it radically re-shaped my spirituality and practices. The combination of therapy and contemplative practices is powerful!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 8, 2020 at 7:07 pm

      What a beautiful story! I love how God met you in the quiet, when there was nothing for you to do but to be still before God’s presence.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 7, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Contemplative Prayer is a relatively new concept to me. In the short time I have been able to implement this practice, I have seen a great impact to my thoughtfulness and mood. I have a tendency to always be on the go, and tend to lose myself in thinking about what is next, rather than being in the moment or even reflecting on the past. Forcing myself to slow down and connect with myself and with God has helped keep me consistent. The previous pattern of reading, worshipping, and praying for a short time, then as weeks and months went on, my faith and practice would slip to the realm of non-existence. The challenge for me is continuing to be consistent and eliminate these swings of highs and lows.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 8, 2020 at 6:53 am

      I’m with you, Brandon. I’ve struggled with consistency, but I’m so much more centered when I practice regularly.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 7, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    When I first became a Christian, I had a very robust practice of spiritual disciplines, daily Bible reading, prayer, and journaling every morning and night. I am thankful for my commitment to the disciplines at that young age because I think it formed a comfort with the Bible and intimate prayer life early on, but I think that my commitment was founded in a rigidity of obedience and pride, a sense of duty that we discussed with Brueggemann.

    When I went to college, I became a part of a different community, a reformed, PCA spiritual community, and it was there that my pastor challenged us to move away from legalism and to rest in the work of Christ, and to see those “spiritual disciplines” instead as a means of grace, and I stopped living in the habitual daily practice, because I no longer felt shame for not doing my daily quiet time. I also think that at that time, I learned to integrate meditation on scripture and prayer into my daily life, “walking and praying”, I would call it. I think that I have had a robust spiritual life interwoven with contemplation and intimacy with the works of the Holy Spirit.

    I think that I am hesitant to engage in anything that resembles my legalistic posture or regularity from my young age anymore, because I am afraid that I will fall into a pattern of shame when I forget or do not do my “daily practice”. I feel very at ease in my relationship with God and that I am able to rely upon and turn to God in all aspects of my life, it is often the only way for me to deal with the onslaught of pain, trauma, distress, and conflict that I have to face both in my life and those of the people I love around me. I am open to trying new methods of spirituality and prayer, but I also am comfortable in the environment that I’ve cultivated over the years of my life, though I do wonder sometimes, if I am too comfortable! Then I remember and see the fruit of my spiritual life, that earthly things offer me little to no comfort, and that my primary source of comfort continues to be God, and I trust that God is at work.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 8, 2020 at 6:56 am

      SueAnn, this makes a lot of sense. I think the difference with contemplative prayer is that it’s not you climbing the ladder, it’s God drawing you inward. That’s why Augustine says, “God is more near to me than I to myself.” St Teresa of Avila says that it’s not about effort but it IS about awareness…and contemplative prayer is like daily awareness rather than daily sleepwalking. God is already there…God is just saying…awaken, look, listen…enjoy intimacy with me!

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 8, 2020 at 5:26 pm

        I love this reframe, Chuck! SueAnn, I also remember feeling a sense of shame for “missing” a day of Bible reading, and feeling like I was not close to God or engaged in my faith if I wasn’t consistently reading scripture or spending time in prayer when a mentor would ask me. I think the challenge for me now is to still choose prayer instead of another activity, and giving it value again in my life. I want that sense of closeness to God– not because of work I do or because I am “climbing a ladder” but because of the way I cultivate that awareness again through prayer.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 7, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    I have to say, listening to Chuck DeGroat talk about the history of contemplative prayer really challenged me. I grew up in an evangelical/charismatic context that was very much disconnected from the contemplative prayer tradition. In fact, I really knew very little about this tradition coming into this unit. That realization – that I knew so little about a mode of prayer that seems to have been dominant for a long period of early Christianity – reminded me of how much I have to learn! Growing up in the evangelical church, I was taught that reciting wrote prayers – to some degree even the Lord’s Prayer – was unspiritual. We were taught that prayer should be ad-libbed. I’m excited to now explore this beautiful, powerful tradition. Quieting my thoughts has always been challenging for me. Getting centered on a thought has always been challenging for me. I am excited to embrace this tradition. I know it’s going to take time for me to get into a rhythm, but I have already downloaded the BCP app and a daily office app. I’ve set reminders on my phone and look forward to practicing this type of prayer and meditation. My sense is that this practice will bring peace and centeredness to my life.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 8, 2020 at 6:57 am

      I love this Jeffrey…thanks for being open and curious!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 9, 2020 at 2:15 pm

      I want to echo your statement Jeffrey about growing up in a world where at best contemplative prayer was ignored and at worst considered a dangerous practice. I like your idea of using an app and reminders to hold accountability to forming this new practice.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 16, 2020 at 6:38 am

      I didn’t grow up in a charismatic/pentecostal space – but it’s so interesting to hear the connection for you between the two. I have always been skeptical, and a bit afraid of, pentecostal experiences, and as I think back to times when I’ve read Teresa of Avila, I think there was a part of me that felt afraid of what she was describing in the same way.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 8, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Although contemplative prayer seems to sit very naturally with my inclination toward quiet, reflective spaces, I still find it challenging to build up motivation and “gumption” to begin that time. I have found it particularly difficult in this season of my life to build a sustainable routine where contemplative prayer or spiritual activities plays a daily part. This being said, I think it could be drastically centering and grounding for me to begin a daily practice of contemplative prayer, and would challenge me to set aside all that is going on in my life, heart, and mind and simply be with God. I am curious how it might change me, particularly the ways it may impact how I show up at work or in my relationships.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 9, 2020 at 6:49 am

      Appreciate your curiosity, Corinne. Curiosity is the cardinal virtue of the great mystics!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 9, 2020 at 2:12 pm

      I like how you concluded this post by making the connection of how contemplative prayer might effect how you show up in other areas of life. I often put things into boxes, this is my faith life, this is my relational life, this is my work life – without thinking about how everything spills over to create who I am as a whole person.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 11, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    One aspects of Chuck’s reflection on the practice of Contemplative Prayer that resonated with me is that this is our way of experiencing the God who pursues us: the God we find at the end of our rope. While Contemplative Prayer is certainly intentional on our part, I heard an emphasis on God’s doing rather than on our own efforts. This invitation to focus on God’s efforts rather than my own is a timely challenge.

    I have a set schedule of morning reading and prayer, but even that is filled with my own activities, rather than silently, expectantly waiting on the One who seeks to meet with me / us. I struggle to name just why I hesitate to enter into time of intentional silence—I long for the “idea” of more slow, silent time—though I am sure I could point to cultural influences, to our hurried pace and abbreviated attention spans. So often I rush to fill otherwise silent time, be it running, driving, or even cooking. Intentionally adding a set time of silence to my morning prayer—starting, perhaps, with five minutes—will be a timely challenge, and a helpful opportunity for growth at this point in my spiritual journey. I am interested in what will rise to the surface from this time when I do.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 13, 2020 at 6:16 pm

      Excited to hear how this journey goes for you Ryan! I have really enjoyed starting and ending my prayer times with silence, simply resting with God. One temptation I’ve run into is wanting to come away with insights or new takeaways every morning instead of just abiding, which I think is a classic Western lens of wanting everything to be “productive” in order to have meaning. I like that you’ve called out that contemplative practices are an emphasis on God rather than on our own efforts — I think that helps!

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 14, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    Hi Chuck. Greetings.

    As I reflect on your question, ironically, contemplative spirituality reminds me of the prayer life that I experiences as a Muslim. I practices Islam for about a decade so the opportunity to return to a more regimented prayer life recalls my practice of Islam’s 5 daily prayers. Thus, practicing the Daily Office reminds me that the gifts of a daily call to prayer at regular intervals is available to us as Christians as well—which is refreshing and useful to me in this moment of national anxiety and uncertainty.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 16, 2020 at 6:32 am

    Contemplative prayer is a gift I found 10 years ago. It felt like the antidote to the formulas of spirituality I had been given. Over the last five years or so, I’ve settled in to a less reactionary embrace of stillness. In my sporadic practice, I have in no way “gotten better” at stilling my mind, but have found an access point to God. Often when I hear people say that, I assume that they have some kind of big “experience” with God in those times of prayer. I’m sure that’s sometimes the case but for me it’s less an “experience” and more a settled knowing. As I continue to learn about contemplative prayer, as well as other meditation practices, the challenge to me is to continue letting go of expectations around outcomes. I think deep down I still want the formulas.

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