Needing to practice some contemplation? Try one or more of the following exercises this week...and enjoy the solitude and silence of simply "being" with God.
Exercises in the Contemplative Tradition
- Pray for ten minutes each morning or evening.
- Pray without words (in silence) for five to ten minutes each day.
- Offer a short prayer throughout the day (for example, the hesychastic prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner” or the verse “Create in me a clean heart, O God and put a new and right spirit within me” [Ps. 51:10]).
- Read a section from a devotional book, such as a spiritual classic like St. Augustine’s Confessions, or it may be a devotional classic such as Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest. Devotional periodicals such as Guideposts or The Upper Room (or some other publication) may interest you. Discover God in the reading.
- Write out a prayer in your journal. You may wish to keep it private, or you may wish to share it. Write the letter as if it were addressed to God, telling Him your hopes and dreams, your worries, your needs.
- Learn to appreciate God through his creation. Take a walk in a park or simply sit and watch a sunset. Consider the majesty of the world, giving thanks and praise for all of God’s creation.
- Set aside fifteen minutes for a time of thanksgiving. Thank God for everything you can think of. Do not worry about intercession or confession; this is simply a time to give thanks.
- Practice the art of listening to God. Meditate on a verse of Scripture, being attentive to what God wants to tell you. Note the words in the verse. Does anything stand out? Turn the verse into a prayer. Ask God to teach you during this time of silence.
- Hold people and situations before God in prayer. Take ten minutes a day to bring your friends and loved ones before God. Do not worry about words; simply imagine Jesus standing beside them before the throne of grace. Let God minister to all of their cares and hurts.
- Try “flash prayers.” When you see someone—anyone—silently pray for that person. Riding on a bus, standing in a line, sitting in a room—wherever you are, inwardly ask God to give those around you joy, to touch their lives with his presence.
Smith, James Bryan. A Spiritual Formation Workbook: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth. A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1993. (pp. 87-88)