In the every day of our lives there are endless opportunities to pack our minds and hearts with countless things to do, to look at, listen to, read about; numerous people to visit, email, talk to, and worry about. Even our prayer time can become crowded with a list of people to be remembered and situations to bring to God’s attention. Contemplative Prayer, in contrast, is being ‘unbusy’ with God, instead of being ‘busy’ with all these other things. It is a prayer of quiet. It is learning to relax into not having to do anything useful or productive when centred in the presence of God.
If the world around us is asserting that “if you are not making good use of your time, you are ‘useless’” then we need to remind ourselves that Jesus urges us to “come and spend some useless time with me.” With everything going on around us and within us, spending time just ‘being’ can be a real challenge – but it can also be something we deeply desire and long for.
James Finley writes: “The core of our being is drawn like a stone to the quiet depths of each moment where God waits for us with eternal longing”. How amazing that the God who is creator of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen - waits and longs for my unguarded and attentive presence! The first step in entering into contemplative “quiet” prayer, then, is to connect with your own deep desire and longing for God, and simply stay as wordlessly as you can with this longing.
If prayer is to nourish and sustain us, it cannot be another activity among many, filled with lists of items to be included. Rather, prayer has to be desired, longed for and then experienced with open hands and an open heart. It is both a gift, and a lifelong adventure, requiring quality time, humility, and perseverance – like any loving relationship.
We know that God’s nature is love. He does not love us any more when we do everything right and he does not love us any less when we do everything wrong. He just loves us; that’s who he is. Prayer is keeping company with the God who loves us.
Adapted from an article by Trevor Miller