Thursday, 14 March 2013

Contemplative Prayer

I am a great believer in the riches of the Christian Church when it comes to the different forms of prayer that are available to us. From silence to vocal prayer, contemplation to biblical meditation, keeping a spiritual journal to the Jesus Prayer there are so many tried and tested ways into prayer. Here part of a post from a Roman catholic website about contemplative prayer:

"Instead of motivational talks or even a wardrobe overhaul, contemplative prayer is the sure-fire cure to insecurity, says a Carmelite nun. “Young people today are very insecure. If you do silent prayer, you will become [secure] little by little… You find very deep peace,” Sr. Mary Niere, OCD said in a talk to Couples for Christ leaders last February 10.

She talked about her own personal experiences of struggles with anxiety and the need for appreciation, which surfaced even more after entering the Carmelite convent in Zamboanga City at 18. “I was bi-polar… I wanted to commit suicide, but I would go to contemplative prayer. That was the only thing that saved me,” Sr. Mary explained. The more insecure a person is, the more “God can fill [the person] up.”

The prevailing drug problem among young people is a testament to the mounting insecurities of an entire generation, Sr. Mary explained. “That is why they are taking drugs. When they go back to reality, they are lost,” she said. Far from being complicated, conjuring up images of levitating nuns and monks, Christian contemplation can be done by anyone. According to Sr. Mary, anyone with the time and the willingness to keep still can do contemplative prayer.

Here are some easy steps for beginners to contemplation outlined by Sr. Mary:

A person starts by sitting upright with the back straight.

With closed eyes, the person listens to sounds around them, without analyzing them.

They then focus of their breathing.

As they breathe in and out, they repeat the word “Jesus” in their mind.

When they notice being distracted by thoughts about work or what needs doing praying, just go back to the word “Jesus”.

A beginner can do this initially for 5 minutes everyday, then 10 minutes, 30 minutes and so on, after a certain regularity of the prayer time is established.

It is at this time of quiet prayer that God addresses and “processes” a person’s deep-seated issues that even they may not be aware of, Sr. Mary said.

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