I belong to a small 'Contemplation and Faith' group. We meet once a month for an hour, which includes 25 minutes of silent contemplative prayer. We do this in a church, sitting in a circle around a lighted candle, although we could meet anywhere.
Over the last few months we have have used a word or phrase from the Lord's Prayer to act as a focus. Nearly a year ago we began with 'Our Father' and at our next meeting we will have reached the doxology which Protestants usually add at the end of the Lord's Prayer:
"For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.In our monthly meetings, at the end of the silence we may share with each other something about the experience - or not - there is no compulsion. 25 minutes now seems rather a short time, but to go for longer could be daunting for new members. Once a month is not often, but part of our purpose is to encourage each other to engage in similar silent prayer when alone for a short time each day.
As you may realize if you have read my recent post 'Being Still' I value this form of prayer. It is trying to be still in God's presence, ready for whatever may happen during that time. It is something simple that does not require any complicated techniques. At the same time it can be challenging. It can be hard to sit still and do nothing when there are external pressures to get things done. It may feel as if nothing happens - but the point is to create the time and space free of other demands. It is waiting - being available without setting any agendas. Even if the time seems empty, or full of distractions, it is not time wasted. Sometimes there may be a deep sense of communion, of the presence of God.
The poet Anne Lewin expresses beautifully how I feel about this form of prayer. She uses the image of watching by a river, hoping to glimpse a kingfisher.
Prayer is like watching for the
Kingfisher. All you can do is
Be where he is likely to appear, and
Often, nothing much happens;
There is space, silence and
No visible sign, only the
Knowledge that he’s been there
And may come again.
Seeing or not seeing cease to matter,
You have been prepared.
But sometimes, when you’ve almost
Stopped expecting it, a flash of brightness
Image Credits: Sitting in silence, Flickr, CC License
Kingfisher: Wikimedia Commons