In the quiet, still silence, I await my God.

 

There seems to be some misgivings about the idea of “contemplative prayer” (also referred to as Christian Meditation) and in some of the descriptions I've read, I would agree that it can seem iffy.

Contemplation, or sometimes known as Lectio Divina, is in its most basic form, the idea and practice of waiting on the Lord. Often in silence or while you ponder on scripture or when you seek an answer or just to rest in his presence and have your strength renewed.

Advertisement

There are some people who think that this means “emptying your mind” and doing something akin to occultism, and opening yourself up to demons and deception. While I'm sure some websites or institutions may teach this, I would say that is not the true essence of this ancient practice.

Lectio Divina
Read; meditate; pray; contemplate

I would never defend, nor advocate, any practice of emptying your mind, as this would be contrary to Scripture. What the bible repeatedly states is that we should be filling our minds with the things of God and scripture; focussing purely on God!

 

So let's take a look at the three basic tenets of this type of praying: silence, waiting, and meditating.

Advertisement

 

Silence

Being silent before the Lord is not an unbiblical position. Nor is finding some quiet alone time with yourself and God. In fact, this is what Jesus instructed (and did: Luke 5:16)!

 

Matthew 6:6
But whenever 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.

Psalms 62:1

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.

Psalms 62:5
For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.

Isaiah 41:1
Listen to me in silence, O coastlands;
let the peoples renew their strength;
let them approach, then let them speak;
let us together draw near for judgment.

Advertisement

 

Let us not forget that the voice of God is not necessarily loud and dramatic, but a small, still voice. How can we hear if we are not still ourselves?

1 Kings 19:12
After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.

Psalms 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God!

Advertisement

 

Waiting on the Lord

Time and time again, the scriptures encourage and implore us to wait patiently on the Lord. Even God himself is patient with us (2 Peter 3:9), so why should we not be for him? It is a fruit of the Spirit, after all (Gal 5:22-24).

 

Psalms 40:1
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.

Isaiah 40:31
...but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…

Lamentations 3:25-27
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for one to bear
the yoke in youth

 

Waiting on God should be our desire!

Isaiah 26:8
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and your renown
are the soul’s desire.

 

Isaiah even states that God works for those who wait for him!

Isaiah 64:4
From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.

Advertisement

 

Sometimes all we can do is come before the Lord in patience with our prayers, even when we have no words, trusting in the Spirit to intercede for us.

Romans 8:25-27
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

 

Advertisement

Our fast-paced, instant, “want it now” society has all but lost the art of sitting quietly and having patience. Even more so in prayer. We seem to think that God moves as fast as we expect or think, but it isn't so. God has always moved at his own pace, in his own time.

We just need to learn to wait. Like Habakkuk, we must wait in a determined manner when seeking God. Why ask of God, and then walk away and forget about it? We should stayed focused lest we doubt or get distracted by the busyness of life around us.

Habakkuk 2:1
mI will stand at my watchpost,
and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
and what he will answer concerning my complaint.

Mark 11:24
So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

James 1:6-8
But ask in faith, never doubting ... for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

 

In all of this, we draw nearer to the Lord. And in doing so, he draws closer to us!

James 4:8
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Advertisement

 

Meditate

Some people don't like the word “meditate” as it conjures up strange Eastern practices with monks sitting cross-legged saying “ommm..” repeatedly.

 

But that's only one type, and is so far removed from Christian meditation it shouldn't even be compared.

Advertisement

 

Scriptures often speak of meditation, but not in the “emptying” sense, but rather, meditating on the Lord and his Word. The Psalmist says this often, and usually says only good and delight/joy will come of it.

Psalms 1:2
...but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.

 

Advertisement

Not only meditating on God's Law and commands, but also just about him.

Psalms 63:6
...I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night

Psalms 145:5
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

 

Advertisement

Also in times of distress and need, meditating on God, waiting on his Spirit of comfort for answers and/or peace.

Psalms 77:3
I think of God, and I moan;
I meditate, and my spirit faints.

Psalms 77:6
I commune with my heart in the night;
I meditate and search my spirit [for answers]

 

Advertisement

Meditating on the things God has done in your life is also something we can do, or even just thinking about his great deeds which are recorded in the bible.

Psalms 77:12
I will meditate on all your work,and muse on your mighty deeds.

Psalms 143:5
I remember the days of old,
I think about all your deeds,
I meditate on the works of your hands.

 

Advertisement

Not only that, we can and should meditate on God's commands so that we may better understand them, and also commit them to memory in order to better live by his ways.

Psalms 119:15-16
I will meditate on your precepts,
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

Psalms 119:27
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.

 

All of this is prayer!

Advertisement

In everything here, it is nothing but prayer to God. Prayer in its many forms for its many reasons.

 

To wait. To seek. To draw closer. To understand. To praise.

 

Advertisement

This is how we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17) and can discover the "depths of God" (1 Cor 2:10) by His Spirit.

 

This is how we discern and gain wisdom by the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), how we receive God's perfect peace and stop worrying and learn to trust HIM.

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 6:18
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

 

Think about these things!

 

A final thought to end on, as this verse sums everything up nicely, and is the basic essence of a lifestyle of contemplative prayer: 

Philippians 4:8
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

Just something to meditate on.

Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates
Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 325 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Spiritual Disciplines of the Early Church: Ancient Practices for the 21st Century

| 17th June 2019 | Early Church

I was asked not so long ago what kinds of things Christians did in the Early Church (first to fourth century) as a form of spiritual discipline, on a personal level as well as a corporate one. Though the concept of an individual “personal spiritual life” would have been quite foreign to first century believers as faith and Church was very much a corporate venture that had personal implications, rather than the other way around as it can often appear to be thought of today. Much of what made Christianity structured, disciplined and set apart from society, has largely been lost in practice, or forgotten and relegated to the annals of history by many practicing Christians today. With that said, let’s take a look at what the most common practices were of the ancient Church.   Reading/Memorising Scripture Memorising Scripture – specifically the Psalms and Gospels Singing/praying the Psalms as worship to God Both of these principles are based on Psalm 1:1–3 and Colossians 3:16. “Every Psalm brings peace, soothes the internal conflicts, calms the rough waves of evil thoughts, dissolves anger, corrects and moderates profligacy.” Commentary on Psalm 1, Basil the Great (4th century)   Prayer and Fasting Another common practice that was expected of believers was regular fasting, since Jesus had said “when you fast”, not “if”. Typically, fasting was done every week on Wednesday and Friday, based on Matthew 6:16–18, and also to honour the days of the Passion and crucifixion in later tradition. “But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; … but fast on the fourth day (Wednesday) and the Preparation (Friday). … [But pray] as the Lord commanded in His Gospel (the Lord’s Prayer) … Thrice in the day thus pray.” Didache (c. 50 – 70) Alongside fasting, praying the Lord’s Prayer three times a day (morning, noon, evening) was a common discipline. From around the third century, liturgy and prayers in a church service would start to face East as that was seen where God’s glory arose, and in baptism ritual turning East was a sign of turning away from the devil towards Christ (Jews similarly prayed facing Jerusalem). This is also why many old church buildings are cross-shaped and have the alter end pointing Eastward. For it is required that you pray toward the east, as knowing that which is written: ‘Give ye glory to God, who rideth upon the heaven of heavens toward the east’ (Ps 67.34 LXX [Ps. 68:33 – 34]). Didascalia, Ch. XII (c.250) The various spiritual benefits to fasting are marked throughout the Church Fathers' works on the subject, but I find this quote from Augustine sums it up succinctly: “Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself.” Augustine; Sermon, On Prayer and Fasting, LXXII (c. 393–430) Fasting was also not just total denial of food all day, but often only until sundown (or evening meal), and would comprise of bread and water with some oils to dip the bread in. Some may be more like a vegetarian diet, but with no oil, fish or alcohol either. Meal times should be replaced with prayer, and in all times during the fast (as well as generally also), to bear in mind the true fast that is pleasing to the Lord as seen in Isaiah 58:6–9. “Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to release the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Isn’t it to distribute your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you not hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isaiah 58:6 – 7 (WEB)   Signing the Cross Another ancient custom is making the sign of the cross over yours...

Creedal Christians: The Nicene Creed

| 02nd June 2019 | Early Church

The Nicene Creed — what is it and why is it called that? This creed gets its name from a time and place: the first ecumenical Church council held at Nicaea, which is now known as İznik in northwestern Turkey, in 325 AD. Now that may raise another question for you: what is an ecumenical council? Well, to explain more about the Nicene Creed, we are going to have to take a look at The First Council of Nicaea in order to better understand why this creed was written. First things first though; an “ecumenical council” is ideally a Church-wide meeting where all the Bishops from all across the Church come together to hold a very large and very important meeting to discuss topics and issues affecting the whole Body of Believers, with the results intended to be binding on all believers. Most often, these Councils were called to combat heresy and false teachers who had come about and gained enough popularity that it warranted an official response, with the creeds being the result after proper orthodoxy had been ratified. Seeking unity, the Council was convened by Constantine I in response to the Arian controversy which had gripped the Greek-speaking East. The teaching of Arius of Alexandria were considered heretical by most bishops of the time, fearing that it would cost people their salvation. 1800 bishops were invited by Constantine (that was every bishop across the Roman Empire), but only around 250-320 turned up from across the Empire, except Britain, according to the various surviving documents from different attendees. This Council was an extremely historic event as nothing quite like it had happened before since the Council of Jerusalem around 50 AD (Acts 15), which convened in a similar manner to counter controversial and false teaching which was upsetting the Church Body. As with that Council, the Nicene Council and its outcome was intended for the whole of the Church global. What actually happened at Nicaea I won’t go into too much detail about everything the Council discussed, but other than condemning and exiling Arius for his false teaching that the Son of God was a created being (or “creature”) out of nothing like the rest of creation, the council aimed to settle on a uniform date for celebrating Easter as the East followed Jewish customs of Passover for the date, and the West followed another custom. Other than that, the other decrees (“canons”) declared were to do with how bishops should be consecrated, how bishops and priests should stay within their parishes and some rules on lending money with interest. There were 20 short canons/rulings in all which you can read here, if you’re interested to see exactly what went on. For another viewpoint of what occurred during the Council, Eusebius of Cæsarea (who you may know as the author of Ecclesiastical History) was in attendance and wrote a letter covering the events to send back to his Diocese explaining the formation of the creed and why and how they came up with it. You can read his letter here, or you can also read the letter of Athanasius who was also present at the council as a secretary to the Bishop of Alexandria, here. It’s also often said that Nicholas of Myra (also known as Saint Nicholas – yes, that St. Nick) attended and actually slapped Arius across the face(!), but that is most likely an exaggeration at best, or an urban legend. If you do read the canons of the council and the letters of Eusebius and Athansius, you’ll see that the Nicene Council had some specific goals to achieve and that their main objective was that of the divine nature of Christ and how to deal with the teaching of Arius. What they didn’t do, as some pervasive myths claim, was to “decide what went in the Bible”, “create Catholicism”, “change the Sabbath to Sunday”, or “invent the deity of Christ”! The internet allows for a lot of nonsense to get spread, especially when much of the disinformation was proliferated by a Hollywood film and orig...

Fasting: A spiritual and physical discipline

| 27th May 2019 | Fasting

The topic of fasting often comes up in online discussion groups that I'm a part of, more often in Protestant circles where the practice is more often sidelined in low churches. So let's take a look at the practice of fasting from a practical and historical view, as it seems to be a spiritual discipline which has been pushed aside in many churches today, with prayer, worship and bible reading taking more precedence in a Christian's life instead (not that those are bad things to do!). Why fast? There are many reasons to fast, and recent studies have shown a lot of health benefits that can be derived from fasting. But on the spiritual side of life, there are also many benefits, one of the main ones being self-control. Fasting is participation in the Gospel. It is the ‘death’ of the flesh through denial, so that we can enjoy the resurrection of Christ in the spirit (Rom 8:13, Col 3:5). It’s pure discipline and obedience (Jesus did say when not if – Matthew 6:16-18; Mark 2:20). It’s putting to death the body – killing the flesh in order to live by the Spirit. (Gal 5:17) It’s training you in self-control, discipline and willpower; growing and nurturing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8). For healing and deliverance of others (Mark 9:29; Matthew 17:21). To prepare to hear from God via visions and revelation (Acts 10:30). For preparation for Church leadership (Acts 13:2-3; Acts 14:23) To not be ruled by your desires and cravings – impulse control (1 Corinthians 7:5). To focus on God and not ourselves, in prayer and worship (Luke 2:36-38). To be in control of your body and to make your desires subject to you, not vice versa (1 Corinthians 7:5). For self-denial to overcome temptations and learn discipline (1 Peter 5:8). For repentance. For prayers for your enemies/persecutors and forgiveness.(For a more in-depth examination of early Christian thought on fasting and the reasons for doing so, see here: Fasting through patristic era.) Some Fasting Guidelines If you want to fast in the same way as the Early Church and keep with historical Christianity, fast every day until sunset (or 3pm) during your fasting period. Historically also, the Church has always had a weekly partial fast on Wednesdays and Fridays alongside other times (such as Lent). Generally, you can drink what you like (except soup, as it’s still a food), though there are different types of fasts the Church has kept throughout the year (the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches still do this) which have different restrictions, like no alcohol and oils etc., but plenty of water is ideal in any case. The first five days or so will be the hardest if you observe the strict fast for a longer period of time. Persevere past this as it does get easier! I've always been told to drink a large glass of milk if you experience headaches, I'm not sure why this helps but it does seem to! It’s not a sin to tell people you are fasting! The warnings of Jesus in Matt 6:16 about not looking dismal and sad, is like the warnings against public prayer – it’s all down to motivation. If you do it for the praise of others, or to look “super spiritual” then you have gained an earthly reward and lost a heavenly one. If people notice and ask, tell them. It may be an opportunity to witness about your faith, as it’s fairly unusual for people to hear of these days; just don’t go around advertising it or boasting, that’s all! Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 6:16-18 – go about your days as normal! As with the historical tradition: don’t fast on Sundays – this is because it is a day of celebration in remembrance of the resurrection; a “mini-feast day” as it’s known! Also, this is why and how during Lent the forty days “fits” from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday, by not counting the Sundays of Lent, otherwise it would be 46 days. Types of Fasts There’s a whole variety of diff...

40 Days with the Fathers: Companion Texts OUT NOW!

| 08th May 2019 | Early Church

40 Days with the Fathers: Companion Texts is now available to buy as Paperback or Kindle! I am happy to say that the new book is now available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon! Other eBook formats will be available soon as it rolls out. This book is the companion to my other book (40 Days with the Fathers: A Daily Reading Plan), and includes twenty-three Early Church texts in full—including all additional footnotes from the original editors and translators so that you can get as close as possible to reading these ancient texts without needing to know ancient Greek or Latin. It's structured in such a way to read a chapter a day over a 40 day period which will help digest these long texts, and also serve as an easy introduction to what is often the more scholarly/academic side of things. Order your copy today to get the Paperback at the special low price of £19.99 (RRP: £21.99)! In the UK? Go to Amazon.co.uk In America or worldwide? Go to Amazon.com Thank you for your interest and support of my work! Luke J. Wilson...