Personal growth, faith, prayer, contemplation, love, oneness,

Contemplation

 

Introduction 
Contemplation is the practice of spending time alone with God, in stillness and silence. The aim is to become more deeply aware of our essential oneness with him. The contemplative process works by helping us to know ourselves more deeply, so we can be completely open and honest with God. Without such openness, there can be neither intimacy, nor unity. 

Information
Throughout our lives we experience a stream of information from our bodies and minds. This flow includes sensations, thoughts, emotions, memories, fantasies, temptations, visions, dreams and nightmares. In the quietness of contemplation, these conscious and unconscious manifestations of the inner self continue to emerge.

Treasures
However, although these impressions may distract us, they should never be seen as intrusions into our silence. Rather, they are the raw materials through which we learn about ourselves. Only through becoming aware of these “treasures hidden in darkness” (reference below), can we know ourselves more fully, and thus be able to share ourselves more completely with God. 

A sequence of steps 
During contemplation, many of the issues emerging from our information flow will require only brief attention, whilst others may prove more challenging. It can therefore be helpful to practice using a sequence of steps for handling them.

Step 1
The most basic task during contemplation is to become aware of our sensations, thoughts and feelings as they rise into consciousness. These experiences will repeatedly distract us from a steady focus on God. However each time we realise our minds have wandered, we briefly acknowledge this before him, let the matter go, then return to the silence.

Step 2 
When we find we are unable to let an issue go, it helps to discuss it straightforwardly with God. This process generally enables us to decide on the best course of action to take. It is good to jot this decision down, so we don’t worry about forgetting it. Using this process usually makes it easier to set the issue aside until we are ready to act, later on.

Step 3
Sometimes, though, we will still be unable to let a matter go. This indicates the need to embrace and accept the unresolved concern just as it is, whilst continuing to sit with it, in silence.

Honesty 
By using these three approaches appropriately and regularly during contemplation, we gradually come face to face with many hidden (often unpalatable), truths about ourselves. This enables us to share ourselves more honestly and fully with God. Of course, God already knows everything about us, but because he delights in our freedom, he waits patiently for us to draw nearer to him. 

Oneness
However, God’s love for us is so great that he doesn’t always wait for us to complete the journey at our own pace. Instead, he runs to meet us, taking us in his arms and kissing us, as we unite in our essential oneness. After enjoying this closeness for a while, we return, a little more enlightened, to our daily lives.

Conclusion
During contemplation we use our awareness of the information emerging from our conscious and unconscious minds to share our deepest selves with God. This learning and sharing process continues until the very end of our lives. Then, still, silent and alone, we seek him for the final time, in the darkness of death. And this time, when he welcomes us, there is no need to go back, for we will remain wholly one with him, absorbed into his light, fire, peace, truth and love for all eternity.

 

References

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35; NIV).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV). 

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

I will give you treasures hidden in darkness (Isaiah 45:3; NLT).

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

The Lord must wait for you to come to him (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:20; NIV).

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

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Contemplation

Father, 
When I come to you in silence 
My body can’t be left outside the door;
So I share my pain and sickness with you,
Then I find they trouble me no more. 

Father,
When I search for you in stillness  
Endless thoughts and fantasies hold sway;
So I share my vague distractions with you, 
Then I find they slowly drift away.

Father, 
When I seek you out in private 
Painful feelings can’t be pushed aside; 
So I share my rage and sorrow with you,
Then I find they quietly subside. 

Father,
When I wait for you in darkness 
Terror sometimes shakes me to the core; 
But I share my fear and anguish with you,
Then I let them go, Lord, and adore. 

 

References

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV). 

When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private (Matthew 6:6; NLT).

Wait for the Lord (Psalm 37:34; NIV).

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35; NIV).

We adore you as the one who is over all things (1 Chronicles 29:11; NLT).

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Close your eyes

 

Close your eyes
In contemplation –

Let God’s light
Flow into you.

Then relax
In contemplation –

Let God’s peace
Flow into you.

Wait for God
In contemplation –

Let his fire
Flow into you.

Merge with God
In contemplation –

Let his love
Flow into you.

 

References 

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7; NIV).

God is light (1 John 1:5; NIV). 

The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT).

God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; NIV).

God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).

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Contemplation

 

The stillness we avoid
Is full of movement.

The darkness we eschew 
Is full of light.

The silence we evade
Is full of music.

The solitude we shun
Is full of you.

 

References 

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7; NIV).

The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness (Psalm 18:28; NLT).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16; NIV).

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it (Genesis 28:16; NIV).

He has known your walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord your God has been with you (Deuteronomy 2:7; HNV).

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Dusty books

 

Lord,
You’re not found 
In dusty books,   
But in the world around us.

Lord,
You’re not found 
In ritual,  
But in silent contemplation.

Lord,
You’re not found 
In required beliefs,
But in everyone you mould.

Lord, 
You’re not found 
In church or shrine,
But in every living soul.

 

References

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known (Psalm 19:1-2; NLT).

The people of Israel love their rituals of sacrifice, but to me their sacrifices are all meaningless (Hosea 8:13; NLT).

When you pray, don’t babble on and on (Matthew 6:7; NLT). 

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7; NIV).

You are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT). 

There is […] one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT).

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Love and consolation

Lord,

May I still 
My busy mind,

Creating time and space
For contemplation.

Then I will hear 
Your quiet voice,

Expressing all your love 
And consolation.

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References

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

After the fire there was the sound of  gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12; NLT).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

I will turn their mourning into joy, give them consolation, and bring happiness out of grief (Jeremiah 31:1; CSB).

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Enlightenment and wisdom

Enlightenment and wisdom  
Grow in stages –

Through shafts of insight
And of inspiration; 

During prayers of thanks, joy,
Or devotion;

Of deep distress;
Or silent contemplation.

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The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness (Psalm 18:28; NKJV).

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts (Psalm 90:12; CSB).

The inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding (Job 32:8; WEB). 

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT).

In my distress I cried out to the Lord (Psalm 18:6; NLT).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NIV).

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