Contemplative prayer isn’t an experience reserved for the “spiritually elite” or a few well-known masters. In fact, some of the best contemplative writers are still largely unknown, and contemplative prayer has been practiced for centuries by Christians who remain completely unknown.
Carl McColman offers a list with three mystics that everyone interested in contemplative prayer will want to know about. Here is a little sample of the larger post:
[Walter] Hilton was born probably in the 1340s and died in 1396; little is known about his life, although it is likely he studied law at Cambridge before becoming an Augustinian priest. His writings, mostly in Middle English, were popular during his lifetime and the following century. Hilton reveals a keen understanding of the psychology of contemplative life, and (like The Cloud) reveals considerable talent as a spiritual directer in his work.
The Scale of Perfection concerns the ongoing process of inner transfiguration that marks perseverance in contemplation. Hilton follows the longstanding mystical tradition that understands the human soul as created in the image and likeness of God, and the contemplative life consisting of a gradual reformation of the soul, to restore the image that has been defaced by sin.
John Ruusbroec was a prolific writer, usually composing his works in Flemish rather than Latin, in order to reach a wider audience. Today his best known work is The Spiritual Espousals, a luminous meditation on how Christ, the Bridegroom, unites human nature with his own, in a sacred marriage officiated by the Holy Spirit.