|Rev. Tom Ward, workshop leader|
“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”—Matthew 6:6
Prayer has been part of my life as long as I remember. Perhaps I should say that a certain type of prayer has been part of my life. During a Centering Prayer Workshop led by Rev. Tom Ward today, I was challenged to reflect on what and how I really pray. I think most of my prayers have been based on two words—“please” and “thank you.” I probably should refer to this as the “Barney the Purple Dinosaur” approach to prayer. Like most of us, I politely come to God with a request. If I perceive that there is a positive response to that request, I express appreciation. If things don’t work out the way that I prayed for them to, I assume that I did not ask the right way or that God was not particularly concerned about my request at that time. This is a pretty one-dimensional approach to a relationship that is meant to be much more.
Ward suggested another approach to prayer—a contemplative way. His definition of contemplation is “responding to God without words in adoration and praise with an attitude of doing less and less so that God can do more and more.” This basically means surrendering myself to God so that God can take the initiative in prayer.
Contemplative prayer takes seriously that God wants to give and will do so freely if we will open our hands and receive what God offers to us. Certainly the rewards that God provides are far richer and more appropriate than we can conceive for ourselves.
Although we practiced this method of prayer today, I can’t say that I understand it and I certainly am a long way from practicing it on a regular basis. I must admit however that it seems to make more sense than the “Barney” approach.