Contemplation: The transformative power of contemplative prayer
Pausing to be in the presence of God is needed relief in the midst of our busy lives, but often, a sense of guilt can creep in.
In a world that is obsessed with striving, succeeding and busyness, stopping to meditate on God can quickly fall off our priority list.
Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can: Your soul is crying out for a deeper encounter with Christ and, if your faith is to thrive for years to come, if it is to survive the coming seasons of darkness and pain, if you are to continue engaging with him when words no longer have meaning, if you are to become the loving person he wants you to be and to see the world the way he sees it, you must make space in your busy life for regular meditation, contemplation and communion with God.
As Pete shares, we are created in the image of a God who – when we spend time in His presence – shows us the beauty and significance of who we are created to be. Contemplative prayer then, reminds us not just who we are, but who we are created to be.
My prayer life can easily become quite self-absorbed: a one-man echo-chamber of egotistical pleas. But when I pray contemplatively I have to ‘show up, shut up, and look up’. It’s far less selfish. And then, at other times, my prayers can become a bit utilitarian – a sequence of dry and dutiful intercessions on behalf of other people and places. When this happens, it is the contemplative impulse that draws me back to the place of grace and surrender, in which I simply ‘waste time’ with God, enjoying and returning to his love unconditionally.
It’s from this place of seeing God and experiencing his loving presence, we are better able to live out His character in our daily lives:
Contemplation changes us and it also therefore changes the way we see the world. Mother Teresa put it like this in her Novel Lecture: ‘ We may be doing social work in the eyes of the people, but we are really contemplatives in the heart of this world. We are touching the body of Christ twenty-four hours. We have twenty-four hours in this presence.
Lord, thank you for the privilege of stepping into your presence. Help us to meditate and seek your face and encounter the fullness of your love, today.