This blog is dedicated to the practice of contemplative prayer. We usually think of prayer as being a practice which incorporates thoughts and feelings expressed in words. This is only one expression of prayer. In the many religious traditions of the planet there is an expression of prayer which unites them; it is the expression of silence. As one of my teachers expresses it, silence is God's primary language!
Why might this be so? Why might silence be God's primary language?
One reason perhaps is that God's spiritual expression cannot be contained in words. Perhaps words that express a thought or a feeling limit God's word to each of us. As the Taoist sage, Lao Tzu, expresses this thought: "The Tao that can be expressed in words is not the Eternal Tao." Another reason is that silence, deep interior silence, requires a commitment to depth, the depths of our own being, beyond our private thoughts and feelings. As the Psalmist expresses this thought: "The deep calls unto the deep."
Now, you might ask, why should I care about learning God's language?
One of the great secrets of Contemplative Prayer is that it is the most practical exercise that one can ever engage in. Out of the experience of Contemplative Prayer emerges a new quality of being, a new and more profound way of being in relation to everyone around us, a renewed vitality and zest for life. And, there is no cost! Except the time that it takes and your intention.
The rumor is that Contemplative Prayer takes lots of time. Not true. However, like any relationship, it does take some time. We encourage you to take time at least twice a day to make a divine appointment with God, to set aside some time to just "be" with God in silence. During that time we set our intention on being in the Presence of the Divine who indwells each of us. Simply put, Contemplative Prayer is learning how to just "be" in God's loving and intimate Presence. I have provided four guidelines that have been developed by Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk, for this practice below.
These guidelines will remain a permanent fixture of this blog. The interaction on this blog will assist those who are interested in a deeper quality of relationship with the Divine Presence that now indwells you! Thank you for your attention. I pray that you join me as we learn to set our intention upon God's Presence. Blessings upon you, fellow adventurer!
The Guidelines for Contemplative Prayer
- Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's Presence and Action within.
- Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's Presence and action within.
- When engaged with our thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
- At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.