Notes from the Pastor
This is adapted from “Common Prayer,” a daily prayer resource by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson, and Enuma Okoro…
Over and over again scripture invites us to abide in God. To rest in God. To dwell in God.
Contemplative prayer is not just about activity and speaking nut also about listening and resting in God. Many of us have grown up thinking of prayer as a checklist of requests to God, like giving a grocery list to someone headed to the store. Prayer is certainly about sharing our concerns and frustrations with God. Still, contemplative prayer goes deeper.
A primary purpose of prayer is to impress on us the personality and character of Christ. We want to become like Jesus, so the life we live in no longer ours but Christ living in us and through us.
Prayer is less about trying to get God to do something we want God to do and more about getting ourselves to do what God wants us to do and to become who God wants us to become. There are times when we speak, weep, groan, or shout at God. But there are also times when we simply sit in silence and are held by the one who calls us Beloved. We remember the character of God, the fruit of the Spirit, and the incarnation of Jesus as he reveals to us what God is like with flesh on. And we pray that God’s character will become our character. For many of us in the high-paced, cluttered world of materialism and noise, silence is a way we can free up space to listen to God.
In most of our lives, silence gets interrupted pretty quickly. Whether it’s a knock at the door, a ding from our phone, or thoughts in our own heads, something always breaks the silence we long for in contemplative prayer. It is tempting to give up – to say that silence is not possible in our context or “I’m not cut out for this.” But the wisdom of those who have gone before is helpful here. Teresa of Avila, who was distracted by her own thoughts in prayer, said she learned not to fight them but to let them come and go like waves in the sea, trusting that God was an anchor who could hold her through any storm.
Contemplation is about tending to the lines that anchor us in Christ. For Francis of Assisi, the San Damiano cross was one of those lines, serving as an icon to focus his prayer on Christ’s love. It was in hours of prayer before this cross that he heard Jesus say, “Rebuild my church, which is in ruins,” then he got up to start the most radical renewal movement in the Middle Ages. Service that builds up the Kingdom of God is rooted in prayer. If we want to join God in changing the world, the place to begin is on our knees before the cross.