Week 3: Letting Go
In Befriending Silence, Carl McColman explores three kinds of monastic prayer that can help us today. In previous posts, we looked at the gifts of lectio divina and the Divine Office. We now turn our attention to contemplative (silent) prayer.
Contemplative prayer gives us much-needed peace and inner rest. When we pray in silence before God, McColman says, “The Holy Spirit invites us to gently set aside our attachments to our interior drama so that we might rest in God’s unchanging stability.”
Since it is mostly without words or particular agendas, contemplative prayer offers an additional benefit that can also be a challenge: letting go of our all-pervasive need for control.
Contemplation challenges us not only as individuals but as a society because ours is a society that rewards assertive, take-charge, type A behavior, and we want to do spirituality in the same way.
Think of it this way: every conversation requires both speaking and listening, otherwise it is one-sided. The Divine Office and other verbal prayers invite us to speak to God, while contemplation gives us the space to listen.
Contemplative prayer fosters an inner spirit of acceptance and receptivity. It reminds us that we are not in the driver’s seat when it comes to prayer (or indeed any aspect of spiritual living). When we pray in silence, we actually embody humility in our prayer. We make ourselves available to God but without presuming to tell God what we want to have happen or what we think should happen. Rather, we shut up and let God take the lead.