Conversations 4.2: Contemplative Prayer
Volume 4:2 Fall 2006
The Fall 2006 edition of Conversations was on the topic of Contemplative Prayer. It was the first issue that I worked on as part of the editorial staff. I was young, freshly graduated from a masters in mental health counseling, and taking on a role with a spiritual formation journal that I had no qualifications for, except for willingness to learn and the need for a job. This was my first deep dive into the stream of contemplative practices of Christian spirituality. I remember thinking what a helpful resource this issue was for me at the time—giving me a dictionary for terms I was vaguely, or not at all familiar with. The table of contents was an introduction to writers I would spend the next eleven years working with, and learning from. And all these years later, I still find this issue an excellent primer on contemplative prayer for anyone, regardless of the stream you spend the most time swimming in (referencing Richard Foster’s notion of Streams of Living Water).
As James Finley says in his article on page 23, “Contemplative prayer is a way of opening ourselves to the intimate experience Jesus spoke of in proclaiming that the coming of the Kingdom has already occurred: the kingdom of God is within us.” The Kingdom has come, it is within us, and there is a divine invitation extended to us for our participation in it. This issue of Conversations describes one of the ways we can experience the Kingdom within us, so that we may know God’s love and bring that love to our neighbors.
In his introduction to the issue, Gary Moon says, “I don’t believe the transforming power of Christ is present with us now because he once said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but because the living Christ can love my neighbor through me by being in me. The difference here can be as vast as the chasm which separates reading a prayer about God from experiencing prayer with God.”
Joyce Peasgood and Michael Glerup share with us the voices of Julian of Norwich, Origen, John Cassian and other writers, and allow their words to travel the centuries and enter the conversation. We’ve included interviews from spiritual directors and teachers around the world, like David Benner in conversation with Thelma Nambu, so that we might have a glimpse of how they experience the Kingdom in their particular culture and stream.
We hope you will enjoy this issue on contemplative prayer. It offers a variety of voices describing this experiential way of prayer as deepening receptivity to and awareness of the mystery of being in Christ. Keep scrolling for the classroom portion, for a more in-depth take on the subject with reflection questions and exercises for you to engage the practice of contemplative prayer.
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