Contemplative living is a gift of God through the merits of Christ, given in the Holy Spirit. A method of prayer must not be used as a technique but rather as a prayerful means to facilitate the opening of the soul's faculties to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is all a matter of grace.
The following are three methods:
THE JESUS PRAYER: The Gospel prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner," is repeated with your breath continually until the prayer is part of breathing and opens you to divine union. The first part of the prayer is pronounced while inhaling, the last part, "have mercy ... " while exhaling.
THE LECTIO DIVINA: This process of prayer is an ancient one.
- You begin by reading a passage from Sacred Scripture.
- Read the passage again. This time, you meditate on its meaning for your life.
- Read the passage again. Then, you allow the Spirit to pray within you as you express your deepest reactions: your outpourings of faith, hope and love; contrition, adoration etc.
- Finally, you allow yourself to enter into the rest of God, consenting to abide in God beyond thoughts and feelings. It is at this point you might use a method like centering prayer or simply remain silent trusting in the Holy Spirit to lead you beyond thoughts into union with God. At any point in the process, you may move into the silence as you are led.
- Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent in Christ to the Triune God's presence and action within you. Examples of sacred words are: Abba, Father, Jesus, Mary, Love, Yes, Shalom, and so on.
- Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Settle briefly, and then silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within.
- When you become aware of thoughts, sensations, feelings -- any perception whatsoever -- return gently to the sacred word.
- At the end of the 20 minute prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. Conclude the prayer with the recitation of the Our Father.