There is one “method” of contemplative prayer that I like very much.
To be strictly true, any method implies a discursive or measured use of our thoughts, our reason, and so on. So it’s better to say that it relates to meditation, not contemplation.
But as far as methods go, there’s one that throws itself straight at contemplation. I picked it up from Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who seems to have “invented” it. Brother Charles was a great reader of Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross. As much as he loved to meditate on the Gospels, he placed the right value on talking with Jesus, on contemplation, on love. He put that first. For Charles, all methods, all meditations, came second.
Blessed Charles’ method is like this.
- “Jesus, what do you want to say to me? … [listen] …”
- “This is what I want to say to you, Jesus: … [form thoughts] …”
- Gaze on the Beloved in silence.
So, you see, it is a “method”. But it’s really just a preparation to empty our heads – and get close enough to, and be open enough with, Jesus – to hold a contemplative gaze on him, to be with him, to enter into contemplative communion, to suffering things divine.
The best part is, it is brief. It requires little mental exertion. When we’re fatigued, it works just as well as when we’re of good body and mind. It can be practised on the street, on the bus, in the middle of a busy workload, in a short pause between tasks at work, at home, doing the dishes, during regular prayer – practically anywhere and practically any time. Why? Because, although it has a particular structure and thus relates in some way to meditation, its true heart and purpose is to thrown us back into contemplative silence.
I like this “method” very much.