Meditation and contemplative prayer are not something we generally associate with prayer. Instead, we associate prayer with talking to God and waiting on His answer. Thanksgiving, blessing, praise, asking, seeking, and supplication are the most common ways we pray.
So, what is contemplative prayer? As the name implies, it is prayer where we contemplate. Meditation is one way we can perform contemplative prayer. But do we mean by to contemplate?
The Oxford dictionary defines contemplate as thinking about, looking at thoughtfully for a long time, or meditating. Some common synonyms are study, consider, and weigh.
Meditation is defined as ‘to think deeply,’ to consider in silence for a lengthy period of time.
These definitions are basic, but the general idea consists of long periods spent thinking deeply, considering and looking at or studying the Word of God, or in intimate communion with the Godhead. The Godhead is the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Yes, they are people, and the most essential part of the Christian life is fellowship and Communion with each member daily. But, there are times when we need to shut everything down, television, cellphone, social media, and even family, to ‘contemplate’ on the Word and with the Lord. There are many benefits to doing so, but I will discuss five.
Draw Near To God
One of the benefits of Contemplative prayer is it allows us to draw near to God in a profoundly intimate way. Through contemplative prayer, we quiet our minds and open our hearts to the presence of God. As we journey inward through contemplative prayer, we are blessed with the opportunity to experience the divine love of God more fully. In this way, contemplation allows us to deepen our relationship with God and enjoy a more intimate connection with the Divine.
Our Spirit man is hungry for fellowship. As humans, we need other people around us to do life together. Likewise, we need a relationship with God that can come from deep, intimate fellowship. By studying and meditating on the Word and asking questions about particular passages, we begin to open our hearts for a deeper walk.
Contemplative prayer has been practiced by many as far back as the Old Testament days. For example, the Psalmist wrote a lot about meditating on the word. In fact, Psalm 119 is written entirely about the word and the benefits of meditating on it.
In his Pamplett ‘Practicing His Presence’, brother Lawrence discusses how a life of meditation and contemplation brings in more of the presence of God. Finally, the monastic movement gained momentum through the centuries because of the desire for many to live in solitude and quiet prayer to draw closer to God. However, we need to learn this practice in a hurried and on-the-go world.
Allows Us To Break Away From Daily Life
We live in a world that constantly demands our time and attention. It seems harder and harder for many to find time to read the Bible, let alone pray and just sit before the Lord. When we carve out time for contemplative prayer, we allow ourselves to break away from the daily routine of life and get in touch with God.
In the silence and solitude of contemplative prayer, we can clear the junk out of our lives and focus on what matters. This can be a difficult task amid a busy life, but it is worth taking a few moments to connect with God and recharge our batteries. If you haven’t tried contemplative prayer before, I encourage you to give it a shot. You might just find that it’s precisely what you need to get back on track.
Besides, Jesus is waiting for you. He wants to know about your problems, issues, likes, and dislikes. Jesus wants to hear how your day went. He also wants you to hear what he thinks about you. So breaking away to enter contemplative prayer should be a regular part of our day.
Increases Our Ability To Hear God’s Voice
Contemplative prayer is a powerful tool to help us hear God’s voice. In the silence of contemplative prayer, we can quiet our minds and open our hearts to God’s presence. Then, as we still our minds and bodies, we become more attuned to the Holy Spirit, and we can begin to hear God’s voice speaking to us.
This doesn’t mean that God will start speaking to us audibly, but rather that we will become more aware of His leading and guidance in our lives. Contemplative prayer can help us connect more deeply with God and hear His voice more clearly.
In the busyness of our lives, it can be easy to forget God is always with us and available to us. But, when we take the time to pray contemplatively, we are reminded that He is always here for us. Contemplative prayer increases our ability to hear God’s voice because it allows us to focus on Him and tune out all the other noise in our lives. It’s a chance to truly connect with God and listen for His guidance.
Developing A Lifestyle Of Listening
Another benefit of contemplative prayer is it helps develop a lifestyle of listening to God and His voice and less time talking. It can be difficult to find silence and stillness in a fast-paced world where we are constantly bombarded with noise and distractions. But in contemplative prayer, we quiet our minds and hearts before God, creating space for Him to speak.
As we learn to listen for His voice in the silence, we begin to integrate contemplative practices into our everyday lives. We become more aware of His presence amid our daily activities, and we learn to slow down and pay attention to His promptings throughout the day. As a result, we develop a deeper relationship with God and a greater understanding of His will for our lives.
Listening helps us hear the Holy Spirit telling us when we are grieving Him or getting out of alignment. By listening in the middle of the daily chaos, we can avoid the traps of the enemy, and we can always walk in a manner fitting to the Kingdom of God. We are more prone to obey the words of Jesus than to let our flesh dictate the terms of a given situation.
Thus, a listening lifestyle does not mean we are always silent, but our heart is postured and ready to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling us at any given moment.
We Behold His Glory and Are Transformed
The fifth benefit of contemplative prayer is that we behold the glory of God and are transformed. In contemplative prayer, the more time we spend in meditation and His presence, the more of His glory we behold. The more of His glory we behold, the more we are gradually transformed into His likeness.
The Bible says that “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Contemplative prayer is one way that we can behold the glory of God and be transformed by it. It is the vehicle whereby we can unveil our faces before Him.
As we fix our eyes on Him, He changes us from the inside out. We become more like Him in character and conduct until we ultimately reflect His image perfectly. Therefore, contemplative prayer is a powerful means of sanctification, transforming us into the people God intends us to be.
It’s A Process
A life of contemplation and meditation on the Word and God is a process. It is a journey that is filled with joy and transformation. However, we should not take it lightly. I believe it is a discipline that every believer should practice at some level regularly.
Don’t quit your job and join a monastery or move to the woods to seek more solitude. Begin where you are and make changes and adjustments as God speaks to you. Don’t let anything, a relationship, TV show, or a job prevent you from practicing this as part of your walk. Enjoy a life of Contemplative Prayer.
Let me caution you that I am speaking of meditation on God’s Word and with Jesus, the Father, and Holy Spirit. Yoga, transcendental meditation, Zen Buddhism, the Quran, Pearl of Great Price, or Book of Mormon are not part of the life of contemplation a Christian should be involved in. Using crystals, smoking pot, or any drug, including alcohol, is not part of the contemplative lifestyle. Jesus loves you and wants to connect with you and not a you that has been influenced by some other form of meditation or prayer.
These other methods and practices open up occultic and eastern religious practices and many dangerous doors. Therefore, stick to the plan that Jesus gave us. Be Blessed.