Wednesday, October 21, 2009

From the Sisters of St. Benedict - Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative prayer is the normal development of the grace of baptism and the regular practice of reading Scripture. We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. Contemplative prayer is the opening of mind and heart — our whole being — to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. We open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing — closer than consciousness itself. Contemplative prayer is a process of interior purification leading, if we consent, to divine union.

Marked by silence, this kind of prayer invites one to deeper reflection on the presence and action of God within one's life, and to rest in that presence. Lectio Divina is a particularly Benedictine form of prayer involving reflection on Scripture; Centering Prayer draws on the repetition of a sacred word to bring one to a silent state of being with God. Many of the Sisters of St. Benedict practice both of these forms of contemplative prayer.

Practical Suggestions for Praying

  • Set aside 15-60 minutes each day for prayer time.
  • Commit to praying at the same time each day for a week. (This will help you set a prayer-filled rhythm in you life.)
  • After a week, make any necessary changes to your schedule and then stay to the schedule for a month.

Creating your Sacred Space

  • The space provides a prayerful atmosphere in which you can pray undisturbed.
  • Choose a comfortable seat that will help you remain alert and focused.
  • Choose spiritual tools for your space — the Bible or other sacred reading, images of God, candles, plants, water fountains, quiet music.
  • Create a space free of distractions.

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