On Whether it Works

The final chapter in A Sunlit Absence is an amalgam of thoughts on whether or not contemplative prayer works: as the best choice for prayer, as something suitable for a variety of personalities and lifestyles, as an aid to forgiveness, etc.

I admit I was disappointed by this chapter; it seemed as if it would have been best folded into the rest of the book, piece by piece. And it ended abruptly with one of the potpourri of thoughts, disconnected from any general drawing back to the whole of the book.

There is a part of me that wants to do something other than end like this—with what feels like a review instead of an entering-in. And I am reminded of how important it is for writers to keep their promises to readers all the way through an endeavor, whether that endeavor is an article, a poem, or a whole book.

It is okay, of course, when we writers forget to keep our promises. But our readers may be prone to remember.


On a different note, I wonder if any of you have tried contemplative prayer or plan to try it? The rosary, by the way, can be considered a form of contemplative prayer due to its repetitive nature. So far, my girls and I have made rosaries, but I have yet to teach them how to pray with one. (Of course this will mean I'll need to learn it myself first! :)

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Blogger Maureen said...

I must admit I find somewhat mystifying this notion of whether contemplative prayer (or any other form of prayer) is supposed to work. To what end? Does it not have its own intrinsic value that need not be qualified by result? What makes us want a "best choice for prayer"? For me, prayer is a deeply personal means to feeling closer to what I already carry within, and in that respect is more than enough.

Blogger Megan Willome said...

I need contemplative prayer like I need tea. If I don't have it, then no spontaneous prayer comes.

Blogger Patricia said...

...seems I have rabbit trailed over here... and I'm glad I did.

My experience with it(and there are differing ways to define it)has been a very positive way for me to enhance my focus during worship and prayer ... not for the purpose of making it "work," but as a tool for clearing my mind, calming my heart and preparing myself to be in his presence and hear what he would say to me in prayer, worship or through his word. There are lots of different ways for contemplative prayer to take place.

Blogger diana said...

Pretty much agree with all who've commented before me. There are different ways to enter into a contemplative or semi-contemplative state. And I'm not particularly 'good' at any of them. But I do practice them, in my semi-regular and highly idiosyncratic way. The Jesus Prayer in times of stress, centering prayer for 20 minutes in my car at the beach, a half day retreat for centering prayer in community at a local Catholic retreat center, or just praying as I walk - by doing something much like Sarah Bessey's anonymous guest poster describes over at emerging mummy this week. Patterned after her 2 year old granddaughter's bedtime prayer of, "Jesus. Mommy. Daddy," she says the name of Jesus, followed by the name of all for whom she is praying. I've found this type of simple, almost visual prayer (very few words!) is really a good way to 'stay connected' as I walk laps around my driveway. It begins to feel almost chant-like. But I am far from an expert on any of these, nor deeply practiced. I still aspire to be...


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