A Beginners Guide to Contemplative Prayer
As we begin maturing socially, intellectually and spiritually in our faith we begin to understand that our worth is not just about us personally or individually. In the church we have a whole community that helps us on this journey that inspires us, sustains us and guides us.
On a spiritual level we also learn how to worship and pray. In services and small groups we pray in community with liturgy and spoken prayers. For us personally we can pray silently; holding up to God our own silent intentions and concerns.
Another way of praying in silence without words is in contemplative prayer. In this way we learn to abandon all artifices of ourselves and seek to allow our 'humanity to become a way for the divine flow to enter the world.' Christians have always called this flow the 'Holy Spirit'. Jesus said the 'spirit moves where it will' and contemplative prayer is simply another way to open up to this powerful flow. As we abandon our words we trust the words of scripture that promises the 'Holy Spirit gives us words when we don't know how to pray'.
The teacher and writer, Richard Rohr often reminds us that all of creation is filled with the divine flow and our recognition of it can empower and enliven our lives. 'Life becomes a matter of showing us and saying yes to what is.'
Rohr further advises with this teaching:
Try to be in the moment in the 'now' not describing or judging which is the hardest place to be even knowing you're likely carrying the day's events, the memories, the hurts, and the day's disappointments.
But we can let these go right now if we choose, because we are going to move into a different way of knowing, one that the ordinary mind and with it ordinary cares simply isn't up for.
Don't be afraid of the silence.
Don't be afraid of what first feels like boredom or nothingness.
Don't be afraid of this silence, which is where God seems to be.
Don't be afraid of this loneliness and all that it might offer.
Out of this silence and this hopefully more spacious place, let this prayer resonate in you:
'Breath of the spirit' (Yahweh) or 'Maranatha' (Jesus).
About the author: Martha Newfield is a longtime member of the contemplative community at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Anderson Township, OH. For more information about the contemplative community at LCR click here.