Today we continue our series called, From Screens to Stillness. In it, we will look at the challenges we face today that keep us from silence and contemplative prayer, we will explore the gift of technology in our spiritual lives, and also ways for us to embrace stillness and silence in this age of screens. Last week, we took a look at the challenge of screens in our life. This week, let’s look at the practices of contemplative prayer that I feel help us today.
I was at a Catholic conference recently where a speaker was talking about the value of contemplative practices. Drawing on his experience as a counselor, he was offering us ways to be still and be silent. There was one thing missing from his talk. The silence and stillness of contemplative prayer has one distinguishing characteristic from other meditation practices such as the mindfulness we read about in business literature or counseling literature.
Contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition is about being still and silent with someone – God. We do not enter silence, stillness and solitude alone. We go to be with someone. When we pause and enter our inner chapels, we are going to spend time with someone who created us, who loves us, who calls us into relationship, who offers us infinite mercy, who we belong to, who companions us in our suffering, and who sends us forth to use our gifts.
Contemplative prayer is prayer that pauses us to be still and silent and with God. It reminds me of the beautiful Psalm 46:11 “Be still and know that I am God.” There are a multitude of contemplative prayer tools that helps us be still and be with God.
The gift of contemplative prayer is a way for us to live in the world with screens. Screens are not going anywhere anytime soon. They sometimes become like “idols” or “gods’ for us. Just like St. Ignatius speaks of in the First Principle and Foundation, we must learn how to hold this gift in balance and allow it to help us deepen our relationship with God. So how do we do that?
First, we need to set up a practice of daily contemplative prayer. Anyone who has heard me speak knows that I herald the practice of daily intentional prayer. It starts with three main things:
- A daily time of prayer
- A set place for prayer
- Making your place of prayer a sacred space
Each of us can find a daily time to pause and be with God. The routine of it being in the same place each day helps our bodies and minds know it is time to turn off, to disengage from the pace of “screens” and to slow mind and body down. The simple reminders in your place of prayer that remind you what you are there to do is how we can turn a normal place into a sacred space. This includes simple items that make you excited to get to the prayer place and time. Perhaps a picture of loved ones, a cross, your bible, a special image of faith.
Once the foundational pieces are in place, its time to move to discerning our prayer method, the way we will be with God. There are a multitude of prayer practices that help us embrace the gift of silence and being with God. Here are a few examples:
- The Examen – a prayerful review of your day with God
- Imaginative Prayer or Ignatian contemplation – placing yourself within the scripture scene
- Rosary – the repetitive praying of the Hail Mary’s in silence and allowing yourself moments to pause between decades
- Adoration – going to a chapel and embracing the gift of silence and being phsycially present with God in the body of Christ
There are many more!
What I have learned through the years of praying as our world and pace has gotten busier is that contemplative prayer helps me combat the busyness. It allows my body, my spirit, and my mind to realign. I have come to discover the promises of God through contemplative prayer. The silence is anything but deafening. It is a silence that holds the promise of relationship, of unconditional love, of mercy, and of companionship. It is silence with God.
Contemplative prayer helps me check my attachment to screens in my life. It invites me to pay attention to the times I am letting what’s on my phone rule the moment of my life instead of the people or the work in front of me. The time with God guides my actions, my words and my day.
St. Claire of Assisi is known to have said, “What we contemplate, we become.” What is it we want to become? My guess is most of us don’t want to continue to become the overly attached to our phones, distracted and tired humans. We want to feel alive, loved, energetic, and connected in a meaningful way.
I invite you this week, to put down your screens, to pause in contemplative prayer to simply be with God. For when we contemplate God and the promises of God, we bring what we contemplate out in the world around us.
- Download Creating a Prayer Practice to guide you in intentionally setting aside quiet time with God.
- Read more about the Examen in my blog series on this flexible prayer tool.
- Let me guide you in using the prayer tool of Imaginative Prayer/Ignatian Contemplation through audio reflections.
- Register for my new online retreat that brings the preached retreat experience to your email with content sent weekly for you to work through individually, on your own schedule, giving you resources to help you find stillness and build a prayer practice, “Overwhelmed No More: 6 Ways to Discover and Live God’s Vision for Your Life”.
Inviting you Deeper as We Walk with Christ:
- I’ll be in sunny Scottsdale, AZ February 8-10 with St. Patrick Catholic Church’s Home Field Advantage Adult Faith Formation Conference, a day of reflection, and an evening of reflection with the St. Patrick’s community.
- RECongress in Los Angeles!! February 21-23, 2020. I am thrilled to be part of the presentation, Start with Jesus, in the Arena and the workshop, The Gift of the Inner Chapel.
- Calling all my Southern Louisiana ladies! March 10, 2020: Women of the Well Lenten Evening of Reflection “Clearing the Path: Simplifying the Road to Christ”
- Sign up for my Prayer Team and pledge to pray for the weekly prayer requests posted on my Facebook & Instagram, and for the attendees of upcoming events. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.