Definition: (Miriam-Webster Dictionary)
- To view or consider with continued attention, meditate on
- To view as contingent or probable or as an end or intention
- To weigh in the mind
- To think about, reflect on
- To think or consider especially quietly, soberly and deeply
- A definite focussing of one’s thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply
What is Contemplative Prayer?
During contemplative Prayer we focus our full attention on the presence of God, on the will of God and on the Love of God. We come before God and see Jesus with the eyes of our heart, as we adore and worship god in quiet silent prayer. When we practice contemplative prayer we stay quiet before the Lord and wait longingly for God.
The goal of Contemplative Prayer: To enter into the very Presence of God so that we live out of our Spirit and not in our flesh. It is a gift from the Lord of pure grace. As we contemplate we experience God and He prays in our spirit.
We enter into His Presence by faith
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Heb 11:6 (NIV)
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb 4:9-16 (NIV)
How can we be sure that we are hearing from the Holy Spirit?
When we invite the Holy Spirit to come by faith ….He comes!
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13 (NIV)
The Inward Journey
Contemplative prayer is often referred to as an Inward Journey. We are currently experiencing a desire to look back at the writings of the spiritual saints, the mystics. People like Mme Jeanne Guyon, Brother Lawrence, Francois Fenelon, St Theresa of Avila, St John of the Cross. These are writings that aim to transform our whole personality. They seek to touch, the heart, address the will, and mould the mind. They call for radical character formation. They instil holy habits. Their writings have stood the test of time. We need to “soak” ourselves in these devotional classics.
Biblical Characters who “soaked” in the Presence of God.
Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)
Mary with the costly perfume
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:1-9 (NIV)
Esther coming before the King
When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem. Esth 2:8-9
Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. Esth 2:12 (NIV)
What happens as we “soak” in the Presence of our King?
As we soak in the presence of our king we begin to pick up His fragrance, His Perfume. We can enter into His presence to behold him and worship him.
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. I Jn 3:18-20 (NIV)
One of the greatest Christian books of all time Experiencing the Depth of Jesus Christ was written by Mme Jeanne Guyon. Here are the two precepts that she stated as her purpose in writing the book.
Precept 1: the Father loves us so much, he holds his arms of love out to us…he wants us to run to him, just like little children. He invites us to come. If you are thirsty, come to the living waters (John 7:37)…do not waste your time digging wells that have no water in them. (Jeremiah 2:13). He is good and he desires to reveal himself to us. He who spared no his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not, with Him, also freely give us all things. (Rom 8:32)
Precept 2: Prayer is the key. The only way that we can be perfect is to walk in His presence. The only way to live in His presence, in uninterrupted fellowship is by means of prayer. There is a prayer that leads you into the presence of God and keeps you there at all times. A prayer that you can experience under any conditions, any place and any time. A prayer that does not come from your mind, or your understanding, or your thoughts. It is a prayer that begins in your heart. This kind of prayer bypasses the mind, because our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. Thinking does not interrupt prayer that comes out of the heart.
By this Prayer of Simplicity, this experiencing Christ, you may live by God himself with less difficulty and with less interruption than simply breathing!!!!