If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast.

-George Herbert

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Contemplative Prayer

One of the risks of intimacy with God is the confrontation with our own moral and ontological frailty; the poverty and helplessness of the fallen self. Acceptance of that confrontation yields a gradual awakening to the truth that this "self" which struggles to generate moral energy in order to be good, to improve and hopefully merit approbation, is precisely the self which must die so it may become a new creation in Christ.

Contemplative Prayer, insofar as it is a sustained act of self-emptying, self-abandonment and surrender to the Presence of God, is a consent to this death. It is a participation by pure faith in the death and resurrection already accomplished for us by Jesus, and an appropriation of the fruit of the same, namely abundance of life. We can do nothing but die into Christ; but in that death, Christ does everything for us.

Does this sound complex? In truth, contemplative prayer is so simple and easy that the very attempt to explain it gives rise to the fallacy that some technique is involved which must be learned, practiced and perfected. Not so.

Do you remember when, at the Last Supper, St. John rested his head against Jesus' breast? That is all we are doing in this prayer. Sit down quietly. Recollect that the very font and perfection of Love and Beauty is with you; the One Whose love for you is absolutely inextinguishable and eternal. Then simply rest, as it were, against His breast. Goodbye fear, anxiety and self-reliance. What does it matter now if you are "good" or "bad", if you are praying well or poorly? Jesus is doing everything for you.


  1. I just posted a very "profound" comment about the different(often inadequate) ways I pray, then I lost it when I tried to post...

    Will go and contemplate that...

  2. I like Anne Lamott's assertion that she really only has two prayers: "help!" and "thank you!". I can identify with that quite easily.

  3. I try a lot of active praying, prayer walks, lists and recently making prayer doodles. I want to try more of the sitting in silence and trying to actually LISTEN sort of prayer though. We did this in a church activity once. You could opt to visit prayer stations, light candles etc, or you could just meditate in silence and hear God. I did the silence thing for the whole service (and being silent for more than one minute is not usually me...) - I felt wonderful for days. Don't know why I don't do it more.