After 42 and a half years learning every aspect of prayer, I’ve decided contemplative prayer is the key to opening up vast spiritual understanding, deepening my love for God, and prying open a door to mystery which builds love between lovers, the same way secrets do between those in whom we share them.
Unless we are willing to ponder God in the primary way he has revealed himself, his written Word, we may never discover what God intended for his children, a child-like enchantment with a bigger than life person we call Jesus Christ.
Think of it like this: My favorite grandfather moments come when I get on the floor, car or truck in hand, and play with my grandchild. The mistake I can make sometimes when playing with them is that I want to play on my terms, not theirs. It takes some creativity, a lot of patience and humility to sit with a child who wants to instruct you. “No PaPa, that isn’t the monster, this is” (showing me a miniature semi-truck.) “No, Papa, you can’t gobble up my guy, he’s unstoppable!” (said with wide eyes and lots of passion!)
To acquiesce to a child’s expectations requires a firm grip on our own identity, a proper perspective of what means most to the child, and a willingness to waste time in their presence. These are also true in our relationship with God. We do not lose our identity as we enter in, in fact we are enhanced and emboldened in the unique model number God has stamped on us. The perspective we have is that yes God’s spirit directs us into our prayer time, but He allows our time together to be led and offered by us. If we think otherwise, we can feel a little used, and end up losing stamina for prayer and contemplation. If we don’t think God is wildly foaming at the divine mouth over just being with us, period, then we have fallen into a performance mode.
Children love when adults stoop to play on their terms. It’s what God did through His Son, “though he existed as God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself.” By doing so, God has shown us he wants to play, or better put, to be with us as we pray. Those prayers will echo back into time and space, for if our prayers reach their mark, they will because the mark of God is upon them. In a nutshell, this is the goal of all prayer, and what contemplation will bring into our “play time” with God.
So, in order to grow stamina in contemplative prayer, can we believe God wants not only to spend time, but waste time with us? The world’s time sensitive nature has trained us to be efficient, not effervescent. Children have not learned constraints of time, they play, and play, lost in wonderland. What would happen to our prayer times if we adopted that same attitude? The agony of those six hours God spent on the beam reflects commitment, not wishy washy. From God’s perspective He’s already determined he will sit with us for as long as we want. When we become lost as a child in that play, caught up in its drama, we become emboldened a little, start to feel like our part means a great deal, and though we don’t boss God around, he smiles when by faith we ask Him for the impossible!
It’s what God wants in prayer, two hearts lost within one another, and building trust, building love upon trust, and fostering the ability to wait, or in a child’s world, the unconscious use of time that accomplishes nothing but presence.