The Contemplative Life
In reading about the life of St. Francis of Assisi, I was "taken" by the description of his inner as well as his outer life. Let me share some of this with you:
“Francis moved through life in contemplation. For him contemplation was not a withdrawal from the world but an entry point to the presence of God in life. It lead him to a deeply intentional life…pursuing a life of surrender. Although he sought out places of solitude to pray, his life remained one of active service, and stands as a reminder that the life of contemplation does not fall solely into the arms of one who tends to be introverted. His definition of contemplation is rooted in a deep seated desire for the Holy Spirit and love for God. Out of that he moved
with a spirit that was awake, attentive and free in deep dialogue with the Spirit of God within himself. Not only that, he was awake to others, all living things and all human experience. Some say that to contemplate is to look deeply. He looked
(and lived) so deeply that he saw nothing but God before all else. This was a life he led at all moments. “If in prayer we aim more to listen to God than to talk to God, then we are blessed by the voice of the one who loves us infinitely and unconditionally”. The result of this man’s life was a heart that was passionately in love with His Lord Jesus.
Brother Lawrence writes in his book, "The Practice of the Presence of God” that he “sought to remain in the presence of God at all times." He said, “I keep myself by
simple attention and a general fond regard to God…in a habitual silent and secret
conversation of the soul with God. The soul which enjoys God in this manner desires nothing except God. I desire only Him and to be wholly devoted to Him".
Frank Laubach shares his contemplative experience as an act of will. He writes, “I compel my mind to open straight out toward God. I wait and listen with determined sensitiveness. I fix my attention there and sometimes it requires a long time early in the morning to attain that mental state. It also requires determination to keep it there. Why do I harp on this inner experience? Because I feel convinced that for me and for you who read there lies ahead undiscovered continents of spiritual living compared with which we are infants in arms. It is here that lies the hidden manna, waiting to be discovered".
Jean-Nicholas Grou’s description of the contamplative is a “soul so closely united to God that it has no need of outward acts to remain attentive to the inward prayer.
And, finally, Jeanne Guyon refers to contemplative prayer as a “deep, inward relationship to Jesus Christ, a turning and yielding of your heart to the Lord in all things. It is the expression of love within your heart for Him.
The Lord naturally draws you more and more toward Himself. Not only are you
becoming closer to Him but you are becoming like Him. The more you
turn toward Him the more He purifies you. The refining is taking place and the
gold is being produced”.
“He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." (I Cor. 6:17) This is “communion come to maturity” in union. Union develops more and more deeply when one’s will is brought into a growing conformity with the Divine will. Death to self, life in Him…the culmination happens when one is wholly in love with Him.
May He bring us more and more into His life of “I in you, you in Me...vital union"
With you in this pursuit,
Listening Prayer Ministries