What Do You Think About Contemplative Prayer?
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
Is there such a thing as contemplative prayer or Christian meditation in the Reformed and Puritan tradition?
It's amazing how frequently the prayers from the little book The Valley of Vision show up in our worship services.
The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers, and I would put them in that category. That is, they are thoughtful, reflective, and meditative. They're even written in a certain kind of cadence, if you've ever noticed, which is probably very intentional, so that they might be used in corporate settings. But they came out of a deep heart of communion with God.
So my answer is that meditation is a biblical reality. "Meditate on the law of the Lord day and night" (Psalm 1). Contemplation, I think, is just another way of talking about spiritually seeing the beauty of Christ in and through the word of God.
In 2 Corinthians 4 you have, "The god of this age has blinded the eyes of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Well, what's that? That's not with these physical eyes. That's with the eyes referred to in Ephesians 1:17-18 where Paul says, "May the eyes of your heart be enlightened to know what is your calling."
So there is a spiritual seeing, or what we would call contemplation. This is where, when you read your Bible, you pause and you see in and through the words to the reality with your heart, and you apprehend spiritual reality. And this gives rise to a kind of praying that is spiritual and authentic and personal and warm and strong.
So my answer is way "Yes" to the Reformed Puritan tradition of contemplative prayer, as I've just defined it, and of meditation.
I'm very ticked at seminary classes that think you have to mainly go to the mystical Catholic tradition in order to find this kind of depth and this kind of personal connection with the living God that is both rational and supra-rational and very mystical in its communion.
You don't have to embrace bad theology, namely Roman Catholic historic bad theology, in order to find amazing representatives of those who've known God at this level, contemplated God spiritually in the heart at this level, and have given rise to that kind of contemplation in wonderful praying.