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Twenty-five years ago, my congregation began offering contemplative prayer events, sometimes in a class setting on Sunday mornings and sometimes at quiet day retreats on Saturdays. I went along to try out silent prayer with others. I learned how to do centering prayer and the prayer of examen, as well as lectio divina . I took to contemplative prayer like a duck to water.
I realize others don’t always have the same experience that I did, but for me, contemplative prayer was like coming home. In the midst of the verbally oriented faith that I experienced at church and in smaller gatherings, contemplative prayer gave a sense of God as big and wild and wonderful—the mystery beyond our comprehension, and yet also our refuge and fortress, a source of peace, comfort and security.
Sense - Peace - Life - Years - Husband
I needed that sense of peace. My life in those years was tumultuous and stressful. My husband was deeply unhappy at his work. Our kids had entered adolescence, and we were baffled and frustrated by their increasingly challenging behavior. I had finished a seminary degree and was a candidate for ordination as a Presbyterian minister, but I had no idea when or if I would ever be ordained, or even if I really wanted to be.
I felt called to congregational ministry, but I was doing some part-time writing and editing for the Presbytery and Synod, and writing was becoming an increasingly significant part of my life. I was worried about my future. Would it include church ministry or writing? How would I decide?
Prayer - Relief - Turmoil - Glimpse - Peace
I came to contemplative prayer and found relief from the turmoil and a glimpse of “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). I enjoyed the sense of personal peace that came from contemplative prayer for several years before I had a major aha moment....
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