Prayer and a Contemplative Attitude
In today’s reading Luke provides us with the core of Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Jesus teaches the prayer we call the Our Father to his disciples. He then shares a parable on the persistent neighbor as way of understanding the need to be persistent in our prayer. And finally Jesus gives us the assurance that God hears our prayers. The Psalm Response for today reminds us of this. “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.”
Prayer is necessary for anyone who desires a relationship with God. Prayer is the way we communicate with God. More specifically, prayer is the lifting up of our minds, hearts and spirit to God. It is important to note that prayer is a two-way communication. We have to take time to be quiet and listen for what God may be asking of us. We talk to God and God listens. God talks to us and we should listen.
In the hymn “In the Quiet” Liam Lawton (you can listen by clicking the image above) tells us to be still within our lives, but what he is really saying is that we need a contemplative attitude in our daily lives. This is what Jesus does as he goes off to a “certain place” by himself to be in the quiet with God.
As you know, I am an Ursuline Sister. The Mission of the Ursuline Sisters is to transform society through contemplation, justice and compassion. It would be impossible for us to transform society or to have compassion, or practice justice without contemplation being the foundation of all we do.
For any of that to happen we need quiet time. Quiet time provides the opportunity to consciously be in God’s presence, to be able to go into the core of our being and just be with God. This is essential to having a contemplative attitude.
The founder of the Ursuline Sisters, Angela Merici, states in her Rule written way back in 1535, that, “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” It takes a certain kind of attitude to place one’s self in God’s presence, and to pray by just being present to God, and allowing whatever happens to happen. There is no agenda when one comes to contemplative prayer and when one develops a contemplative attitude
The regular practice of contemplative prayer, of emptying the mind of distractions, gradually helps us to develop a contemplative attitude. When we have a contemplative attitude, we have an openness toward all of life, a sense of wonder, a capacity to experience life as gift or as mystery. By this, I mean that we have the ability to allow God to affect our interior reactions to our everyday experiences. This has nothing to do with any one method of prayer. It simply has to do with our attitude or ability to listen, to be open. We allow God’s word or presence to penetrate and to affect our hidden or interior self. In other words, God’s mystery is allowed to touch our own mystery.
Contemplation is a gift and it is there for the asking, provided we’re open to it. But learning how to be open to a contemplative stance usually takes desire, a willingness and openness on our part.
How does prayer, especially quiet prayer, help you to deal with the situations of your life?
How do you communicate with God? Are you willing to be quiet and present to God?