Contemplative praying is God’s gift for deepening intimacy and exchanging love. Sometimes we may feel that we are not so much “spending time” in God’s presence, so much as we are “squandering time” doing absolutely nothing. When this happens we recall that Jesus waits to be invited and relishes unhurried moments with us, and we remember that God wants us to learn to “wait,” “listen,” and “be still.” We offer God the gift of our attentive presence, not demanding that He do something for us in return, but simply for the pleasure of His company. What on earth could be more enjoyable and fulfilling than that?
There are many practical ways we can practice opening to God’s love in contemplative prayer. Here are a few ways to allow God to speak into your spirit:
- Go out on your porch or deck on a summer’s night, and there, away from the demands of the day, let the canopy of a starry night remind you of God’s immensity and the immediacy of His surrounding presence.
- Look at Jesus as He appears in a gospel story, become absorbed with what He is like, the feelings He shows, and what He does.
- Take a few moments for quiet before starting your day. Place a symbol before you such as a lighted candle, a cross, or a Bible. Treat it as a reminder that you are no longer your own, but His beloved child, and be silent before Him.
- Take time to enjoy the beauty of a flower, allowing God to reveal Himself as its creator, and knowing He is pleased as you enjoy what He has made.
- Focus on Him by lifting His name: “Jesus;” praying a short prayer, “Holy Spirit, fill me;” or a scripture phrase, “Lord, You are my Shepherd,” as a way of carrying a consciousness of His presence with you all through the day.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 33, Contemplative Prayer by Reg Johnson).
Father, over and over again I am reminded to come into Your presence, and yet, I am still so absorbed in the busyness of serving You. Help me to allow my “doing” to flow from my intimacy with You, rather than from a driven sense of the need to accomplish. As I focus upon You, I know that You will show me how I should respond with my actions. I don’t understand why I have such a difficult time being silent before You, or simply reflecting on all that You are. Teach me, Lord, to keep company with You, so that my work for You will be a reflection of Your nature instead of my own.
Praise God as the one who holds out his arms to the world in welcoming love and invitation. Thank God for having intervened in your life to bring you to a growing knowledge of his love for you. Confess your sins of this past week, trusting in the power of Jesus’ blood to reconcile you with God. Commit yourself to becoming more aware of God’s outreaching love toward your neighbors and friends. Ask him to make you a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-21).
Pray for reconciliation among foreign missionaries and local ministries where leaders are at odds with each other. Ask God to unify them with a single-minded vision for his kingdom.
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend