Contemplative prayer: A silent Advent communion
By Yvette Walker
Recently I asked some friends to describe prayer. They talked about what the word meant to them (without saying it). All of them used the same word.
Prayer simply is a conversation with our Father. And it’s important to spend time with him because it enriches our personal relationship with him.
But many of us are worried about our ability … and podcasters, who are known for our conversation skills, this is for you, too. Many of us feel unworthy and don’t know what to say.
So, what do we do?
We go back to the basics and model Jesus, who often spent time alone in the presence of God.
One way to do this is to practice a form of prayer called contemplative or centering prayer. The two practices are different but share an important benefit: listening.
In many prayer forms, we acknowledge God, praise him for his gifts, then ask him for our needs. There is nothing wrong with that. But in these listening forms of prayer, we don’t do any of that.
We don’t ask for needs.
We don’t praise him.
We don’t talk at all, not even in our heads.
Instead, we sit, silently, and allow ourselves to come into his presence. We invite him to join us where we are and listen for his voice.
HOW TO DO IT
Rich Lewis, a teacher of Centering Prayer, has a simple method for this practice:
· Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
· Think of a short syllable word, for example, love Jesus, ocean, or a color. I choose Joy.
· In silence, say that word in your mind to begin your prayer and then let it go.
· Empty your mind of distraction and allow yourself to come in his presence.
· When you feel the world start to drift back in, say the word again and start all over.
This isn’t meditation, and you don’t recite your word over and over like a mantra. You’re just sitting with God.