In this, the second of three blogs on prayer, I want to briefly consider Meditation and Contemplation as an encounter with the Triune God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit. As I’ve said previously we are all engaged in seeking to find appropriate pathways in prayer to enrich our friendship with God. I am increasingly called to walk the way of a contemplative, a steep learning curve that challenges so much of my character and my learned behaviours from family, education, church and mission.

This second purpose, which I characterise as ‘encounter’, is unambiguously directed towards a personal encounter with the Divine. Whilst experiencing a strong encounter with God at my conversion aged 19, I very quickly fell in love with the work of God as an evangelist with Youth for Christ. I made the mistake of stopping my disciplined prayer life, convincing myself that the work of God was itself really prayer. Foolishness and pride combined to ensure that, whilst I gained profile and platform, I lost sight of the person and presence of my Saviour. The end result was six months off work with physical and emotional exhaustion.

This was followed by navigating the issue of childlessness, followed by my wife’s long struggle with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, a battle she ultimately lost after eighteen years of glorious struggle. In this ‘Valley of the shadow of death’ (Psalm 23:4) I either had to find my way into the very presence of God, or renounce my faith entirely. Slowly I discovered the path to God’s parlour, a well worn path whose paving stones had borne the footfall of many a saint of old. I was grateful to find myself walking in their shadow into the heart of God.

When we fail, for any reason however noble or just, to pause, or to, ‘Be still and know’ as the psalmist says (Psalm 46:10), we stop nourishing our spiritual nature within. It’s like refusing to eat food in order to save time, failing to acknowledge that physical strength will fail as a result. My path was marked with the recognition that I stood with the Publican with one simple prayer constantly upon my lips, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon me, a sinner’. From this place I knelt and gazed in the hope of catching sight of Jesus and of being enfolded within arms of eternal love.

Take time to ‘be Still & Know’. Without knowledge God remains merely an idea or an optimistic thought. Yet, God yearns to be known personally.embrace

 

* As a revelation to ourselves and to others

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