Contemplative Prayer-On whose terms?

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.   

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Don Edwards says:

    Your message resonated with me. It also brought to mind a poem I wrote a few years ago which has a similar thought:
    Jesus is my Savior; I have no doubt of this
    He set me free from sin and death, I am forever His
    But as I try to live for him, by doing things I’m taught
    I don’t feel the peace and joy, it’s not quite what I thought
    Frustration with my actions, and shock at things I say
    Mix with the awful mind games that plague me every day
    It’s more like Hell than Heaven – is it that way with you?
    Where is the joy God promised? I don’t know what to do!
    Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, He cut through all this funk
    And showed me that these pains of mine, are just the devil’s junk
    That old snake had struck again, and I had looked away
    From Him who gives me all He has, even when I stray
    But I’m worn out from all this drama, sick of falling back
    What can I do to conquer this, how can I stay on track?
    So, desperately I stormed the Throne – at least that was my goal
    Shouting out my discontent, pouring out my soul
    To my surprise, God did not scold. Instead, he questioned me
    Just as a loving father does, and set me on His knee
    “I want”, He said, “to know from you, what is your heart’s desire?”
    “What will it take to give you peace, what is it you require?”
    ‘World peace’ did come to mind – the end of suffering
    But I could tell He knew the truth, that this was not the thing
    So, patiently He waited there, as though He had all day
    Knowing that eventually, I would have much to say
    God is so good, He knows just how, to get me to come clean
    He wouldn’t do another thing, until I spilled the beans
    “I want to know I matter, and my life has some purpose
    To know that I am not alone, and life is not a circus”
    Then, thinking more, I added this, “Mostly, I want love
    That really is the honest truth, mostly I want love” (continued on next page)
    Smiling now from ear to ear, God hugged me to chest
    And I won’t tell you too much more, but that time was the best

    I learned, again, that honesty – showing God your heart
    Is absolutely vital – where you should always start
    When you hold back, it’s like a lie, it shows your lack of faith
    And Satan gets a victory – don’t let Him have his way

    Listen close, and read God’s Word, talk to Him a lot
    Relationships are two-way things, otherwise they’re not
    He has a plan, uniquely yours, that is why you exist
    And when you trust, and share your heart, it’s better than you wished!

  2. kevinjyoung says:

    Don, thanks for sharing this. I can see the thread of association between the two. You have the heart of an artist! Thanks for taking the time to comment. Love you and Val!

  3. Mickey says:

    Kevin, thanks for the reminder, brother, to enjoy the presence of the Master and to get lost in my time with Him! Love the way you write!

  4. kevinjyoung says:

    Thanks, Mickey! Appreciate the shoutout. Trust you and Lisa are leaning in, fighting the good fight of faith. 🙂

  5. Gregg says:

    Hi Kevin. LOVE the picture of you as a Grandpa. What a beautiful reminder of what God has done and is doing for us and with us. Thank you!

    1. kevinjyoung says:

      Greg! So good to hear from you! Thank you!

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