A prolonged sense of attentiveness

By Dave Henning / February 7, 2023

“We were made to contemplate.  But here’s the thing: Contemplation is not truly possible without a prolonged sense of attentiveness.  Our pace must slow down. . . .  In addition,  contemplative prayer is not just about our pace but rather about space — in particular, our inner space.”- Rich Villodas

As Rich Villodas moves on in Chapter 4 of Good and Beautiful and Kind, he describes when our built up defenses come down.  Our defenses come down as we open up our inner space to God’s grace and love.  Furthermore, as we give ourselves to contemplative prayer, we position ourselves to gradually make whole our interior fractures.

Next, Pastor Villodas presents three biblical concepts that inform contemplative prayer.

Biblical Idea #1: God is closer to us than we are to ourselves.  The words Paul offered in Acts 17:26-28, Rich believes, serve as the biblical starting point for contemplative prayer.  Because God is not far from any of us.  And in God we live, move, and have our being.

Finally, contemplative prayer begins here because this step recognizes that our prayer don’t bring us closer to God.  Instead, such prayer positions us to grow in awareness of God’s nearness.

Biblical Idea #2: Christ’s work on the cross opens the door to accessing the presence of God.  Theology professor John Coe offers a biblical breakdown of contemplative prayer. In his book Embracing Contemplation.  Coe writes:

“Christian contemplation or contemplative prayer is grounded in an orthodox view of original sin requiring the work of Christ in the new covenant to reconcile humanity to God.  Apart form this, the human spirit cannot experience the Spirit of God (Eph. 2:5).”

Biblical Idea #3: We are invited to dwell with and in God.  God’s presence available to us in Christ presents a clear invitation.  That God calls us to find our home in Him.  Therefore, in contemplative prayer our aim is not to do something for God.  Or even gain anything from Him.  Rather, our aim is simply to be with God.

Today’s question: What most helps you develop and sustain a prolonged sense of attentiveness?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A cosmic vending machine?”

About the author

Dave Henning

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