"Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us." (St. Teresa of Jesus, The Book of Her Life, 8, 5 in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K.Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976), I, 67.)
The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. (Catechism 2710)
-Choose a time and duration that you can be faithful to every day. (15 minutes – a holy hour)
5 P’s of Prayer
Prepare: Know ahead of time what you are going to pray with. Look at it early in the morning, meditate upon it throughout the day.
Place: Find a place that is good for prayer. A place of silence where you will not be disturbed. Make a place significant for praying – i.e. candle, crucifix, bible.
Posture: We are human beings and we pray with our bodies. Find a posture that you can be relaxed and comfortable so your body is not a distraction during prayer.
Presence: Take a moment before prayer to realize that you are in the Presence of God. Invite the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and teach you how to pray.
Passage: Go to the Word, Icon, or nature. Become familiar with it and rest with
whatever word, image, phrase, sense God speaks to you. Be still.
"We must remember God more often than we draw breath."1 But we cannot pray "at all times" if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it. These are the special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration.
The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer..
The Lord leads all persons by paths and in ways pleasing to him, and each believer responds according to his heart's resolve and the personal expressions of his prayer. However, Christian Tradition has retained three major expressions of prayer: vocal, meditative, and contemplative.
The Church invites the faithful to regular prayer: daily prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Eucharist , the feasts of the liturgical year.
The Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer. They have in common the recollection of the heart.
Vocal prayer, founded on the union of body and soul in human nature, associates the body with the interior prayer of the heart, following Christ's example of praying to his Father and teaching the Our Father to his disciples.
Meditation is a prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. Its goal is to make our own in faith the subject considered, by confronting it with the reality of our own life.
Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery.
Prayer is always a gift. We cannot make it happen, rather God initiates and inivtes us into it. We can, however do certain things that will help us to receive the Holy Spirit. The practice of lectio divina engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him. (Contemplative Prayer). Lectio Divina can be a way to enter into Contempatio.
· Read the passage slowly several times
· Slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into us
· Read the passage again
· Think about how you apply to your own life.
· Picture the scene or images. Uses your sense to imagine you are there in the scene. Watch, listen, speak if you are inclined, smell, touch, taste, feel.
· Let Jesus speak to you and reflect on the scripture passage
· “Lord, what are you saying to me in this passage today?”
· Read the scripture a third time
· Let your heart speak to God
· Trust God enough to become emotionally involved/spontaneous prayer
· Ask God for the grace that you are desiring.
(the above three are all really preparation and should lead us into Contemplative Prayer)
· Read the scripture a final time
· Repeat slowly whatever word or phrase you feel the Lord speaking to you.
· Rest with the word or phrase and let it sink in to your heart. Let Jesus’ heart speak to your heart and your heart to Jesus’.
· Contemplative prayer is silence, the "symbol of the world to come" or "silent love." Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through his Spirit "that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith" and we may be "grounded in love.” Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me": this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self.