Got a best friend? Maybe it’s your spouse, or a colleague or another entrepreneur? Chances are, if you do, you’ve contemplated things with them.
What is contemplative prayer?
“Contemplative prayer is in my opinion nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” –Teresa of Avila
This means there may be very little spoken during times of contemplation, which is true when it comes to prayer. It is the prayer of a true child of God. It is a gift and grace.
Contemplative prayer can’t be forced or completely achieved on our own terms. It has to be provided to us from God. We accept it best when we are humble.
It is communion with God, and it may start from meditation or even from vocal prayer. It’s almost like being taken to a different place. It is part of what gives us the spark to keep up the habit of praying.
What to contemplate?
That’s an easy one. God. Simple as that. This contemplation is a union with God in a deep sense of communion. John of the Cross calls it “silent love.” Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, suggests that it helps us learn the “interior knowledge” of God, to help us love him and follow him more.
Teresa of Avila says it is like “a magnificent castle inside our own souls, at the center of which the Beloved himself dwells. The extraordinary thing about this castle where God lives is that it is inside of us. The journey to union with the Beloved is a journey home to the center of ourselves. The human soul is so glorious that God himself chooses it as his dwelling place.” –Interior Castle
This type of prayer can have a profound effect on our lives, because there is no way we could think of ourselves when we are so deeply involved with God. We would be exclusively concerned with finding ways to please him and showing him how much we love him.
If we want our intellects to move toward their rightful ends: truth, and our wills to move toward their rightful ends: good, then prayer is the best practice to accomplish it. And the highest form of prayer is contemplation.
Our goal should be to become contemplatives in the middle of the world.
To pray always, to maintain a presence with God and a prayerful attitude. We need to contemplate God’s will for us as often as possible. In terms of setting aside regular times for 1-on-1 contemplation, this should be a part of our daily routine in conjunction with our meditation, which we learned about last week.
Our goal should be to experience some sense of contemplation when meditating, and this should almost always be done alone. The exception would be preached meditations that are offered at certain times and are part of a good silent retreat. We can use the “preacher’s words” as we do the words on a page and listen as God speaks to us through what is being said.
While it’s not realistic to expect that we will always fall into this contemplative state, we need to be open to it and ready for it when it does come. We need to be ready to listen to what God is communicating with us.
Challenge #16: If you followed last week’s challenge, then you should have meditated every day this past week. If so, I want you to try contemplative prayer at least once this week. Let yourself be so consumed with God that you can’t think of anyone or anything else.
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas. For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available as an e-book now, or pre-order the paperback!