Being Vulnerable to God
by Brian C. Taylor
CONTEMPLATION IS, FOR MANY OF US, a word that conjures up impossibly holy prayer, the prayer of impossibly holy saints. This is not the case. Contemplation is simply being in the presence of God in silence and in peace. It has been said that, while meditating and praying is looking at God, contemplating is God looking at us.
This is where activity and passivity come together: we are actively watchful, expectant and open, yet not attempting to make anything happen. This is where we must be very vulnerable, trusting that God's will shall be done in us, and it shall be far greater than anything we could hope to accomplish by our prayerful efforts.
At this level, we move from our prayer intention into a sense of being still before God. Having thought, imagined, and prayed about a passage of Scripture, or a reading, we have allowed ourselves to be touched by the living Word. The effect of that touch is what we take into contemplation. If you have meditated and prayed about your desire for healing of spiritual paralysis, take that sense of desire for freedom into God's presence. If you have meditated and prayed about your need to see the miracle of life around you, take that sense of miraculous wonder and simply be with God.
Whatever it is, do not try to think about it anymore or come to conclusions about it or try to make anything happen. Remember, this is the point at which we give up our own control and allow God to work on us.
This is being vulnerable to God at the deepest level. It is not asking for anything in particular anymore, but rather opening ourselves as we are and laying that trustingly before our Lord. We do this knowing that whatever God does, whether or not anything happens, it is God's will. We will be transformed by God's grace according to God's will.
And so we sit in peace, not expecting anything, not seeking anything. We sit in peace, naked before God and bathed in divine love.
From A Place Apart: Monastic Prayer and Practice for Everyone by M. Basil Pennington (Image Books, a division of Doubleday & Company, Inc., New York, 1985), p. 136.