In our last post, we saw that contemplative prayer incorporates meditation — on the Lord Himself, on His Word, and on the things He does. We discovered that meditation involves not only pondering these things, but also dialoguing with the Lord about any questions we have.
Another aspect of contemplative prayer is quieting our lips and minds so that God can speak to us. In Psalm 46:10, the Lord instructs us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We need to calm down in our thoughts, so that the Holy Spirit can speak to our spirit. He may do that through words or visions (pictures He impresses upon our spirit).
Because a few Christians have gotten off into doing unbiblical stuff, the part of contemplative prayer which involves being quiet before the Lord has caused fear, and therefore criticism, among some believers. This is really a case of “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
Eastern religious practices involve using breathing and relaxation techniques to bring the mind into emptiness or an altered state, so that one can receive “revelation.” That’s exactly what we don’t want to do. God did not create our minds to be left empty and open to whatever.
The only altered state of mind we should actively seek is mentioned in these two verses:
Romans 12:2 — “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Isaiah 26:3 — “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You: because he trusts in You.” (“Stayed on You” means to be focused, or fastened, on the Lord.)
We don’t need special relaxation exercises in order to become calm enough to hear God. Getting quiet before the Lord is a bit of a discipline, but only in the sense that if our minds are distracted or wandering, we keep “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Here are some biblical ways to quiet yourself so God can speak:
- Meditate on one of those three things we already mentioned — the Lord, His Word, or His mighty acts.
- Read a passage in the Bible. Then wait for Him to talk to you about it. This is God’s “breathing technique.” 2 Timothy 3:16 literally says, “All Scripture is God-breathed….” Let Him do the breathing, not you!
- Worship — actively. You can also play worship music in the background to help sense His presence with you, but keep it soft enough so that it won’t distract you.
- Invite Him to speak. “What’s on Your heart today, Lord?”
- Ask the Lord a question; give Him time to answer. “How do You see this?” “What do You want me to do?”
- Pray softly in tongues. Keep your spiritual ears tuned to hear Him while you pray.
When we quiet ourselves before the Lord, although we should want to hear Him speak, there will be times when He does not say or reveal anything. We can still enjoy just being with Him. His Presence is enough. Indeed, lovers often spend time together without needing to say anything. It is the same between us and the Lord. Our primary goal should not be to receive revelation from Him, but simply to be near Him.
Next time we will talk about journaling as a part of contemplative prayer.
The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam