Everyone needs and inner room, a place where you are with God and God alone. There is really only one way and that is by way of the prayer of quiet. You might begin by learning about centering prayer as taught by Fr. Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault or David Frenette, or meditation as taught by James Findlay and others.
There are four stages of prayer:
First: We speak, God listens. Oratio.
This would encompass all forms of prayer in words whether read aloud or quietly, or called to mind and recited either internally or externally. May include prayers of petition, thanksgiving, praise, forgiveness, etc.
Second: God speaks, we listen
. This would encompass reading and reflecting upon God’s word whether it be written as in scripture or as it is found in nature. This may lead to what westerners refer to as meditation, (meditatio) but not necessarily. At its best, this prayer is a meditation on the Word God is speaking to me at this moment. It may be as simple as noticing a roadrunner scurry across the road and reflecting upon the message the creature is bringing to me. It typically refers to taking a short scriptural passage and ruminating upon it until it breaks open.
Third: No one speaks, both listen.
This is the beginning of the prayer that leads to the inner room. Centering prayer fits this description as the purpose of this prayer is to gently, ever so gently, let go, repeatedly if need be, of thoughts while resting in the space between the thoughts. This is a prayer of letting go of the reigns, so to speak. One is open, receptively waiting upon the presence and action of the Holy One, without expectation. Be stll and know that I am God. We are not listening for any particular messages, in fact, all thoughts and feelings are released the moment we become aware that we have been carried away by them. We are simply being present to one another.
Fourth: No one speaks, no one listens. Silence.
Also referred to in the West as contemplation or contemplatio. This prayer is typically understood in Catholic circles to be pure gift and it is gift but the gift becomes more readily available to the ones who have fostered the space in which the gift can be received. This is the prayer of the inner room. Although most of us throughout our lives have tasted fleeting moments of this prayer outside of the context of prayer as it is being described here, nonetheless, one needs to cultivate an attitude of receptivity in order to experience this stage of prayer to which each and every one of us is called. It is not reserved for a few lofty souls. Mystical experience may happen for a few but they are not necessary and typically prove to be a hindrance to contemplation because the recipient tends get caught up in them and struggles to let go of them.
To find your inner room, you must shut the door and wait quietly, patiently, receptively, without expectations upon God.
For you Holy One, my soul in stillness waits.
- A Quiet Way – Contemplative Primer #1 (brianloging.wordpress.com)
- Divine Reading: Hearing God’s “Still, Small Voice” (deepdraughts.wordpress.com)
- Rising Tide of Silence Debuted March 7 in Beverly Hills (ireport.cnn.com)
- Lectio Divina on God, Creation and the Sermon on the Mount (mrdaviddrew.wordpress.com)