Staying Quietly In God's Presence

José Matthews

        Fundamentally, meditation prayer is an interior act of developing and maintaining a deep communion and attachment to God in solitude. It is a merging with the inner power of God's spirit within. Divinity is there for us to activate; it is the gracious gift of God. It is freely given to those who are willing and ready to receive it. As scripture says, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God." In our time spirituality is slipping into a trap of words. The mind is separated from the meaning of the words. The images, feelings and sounds produced in our consciousness often close the opening of our heart to God. Often the surrounding noise, images and outside influences preoccupy us and we fail to grow in our devotion. The prayer of solitude is a different path to God where the voices and images produced within us remain still or are absent. The following are the steps followed in this method. 

Step 1   Quieting The Mind And Body 

          Check the mind and body for its state. The mind may be distracted in many ways as it is pulled either in the past direction or in the future direction. There can be many things that the mind is working upon -- inputs from the family, workplace, economic matters, social matters and anything and everything. This is not conducive to this deeper form of prayer. Distractions themselves can be prayer when we surrender our preoccupations and offer our helplessness to God. Our merciful God accepts such prayer. 

          To move into deeper prayer, we need to overcome the intruding thoughts and surging emotions. It is a difficult task. 

          First of all take the position of an observer, the one who observes and finds out the moving thoughts and emotions. This is a detached manner of quieting the mind. In the attached manner, see the origins of thought, their nature, and irrelevance. If they are too important don't attempt to pray just now. Be honest with ourselves. 

Step 2   Observing Them .... Let Them Be

          The mind can be in a state of connected and disconnected thoughts punctuated by attention and it will be spreading in all directions akin to an interrupted ignited lamp. It will be a futile attempt if we try to continue to control or subjugate all the thoughts. Allow some freedom in the expression of thoughts. One important point to keep in mind is that all thoughts have an origin. It may be our intentions, plans, desires. Wishes unfulfilled can be a strong causative factor. 

          When we come to know the source of thoughts, it is a great help to manage them. Here again don't try to fight with the thoughts. Do not evaluate the quality of thoughts as to its usefulness, or uselessness. The consciousness of thoughts' arousal and distribution will serve the purpose of attaining the equilibrium of mind. When thoughts have been veered around and brought under observation and when you have gained a comfortable level of control, we can continue with our prayer.

Step 3   Arousing Interior Devotion 

          Recitation of a hymn meant to arouse interior devotion. Here is one such example. Slowly and thoughtfully recite the hymn:

J-e-s-u-s ... o-u-r ... L-o-r-d,    w-e ... p-r-a-i-s-e ... y-o-u .... 
    J-e-s-u-s ... o-u-r ... L-o-r-d,    w-e ... w-o-r-s-h-i-p  ... y-o-u ... 
J-e-s-u-s ... o-u-r ... L-o-r-d,    b-l-e-s-s ... u-s. 
          An alternate way to dispose oneself to experience the presence of our Lord is this. Some people find it helpful to imagine, in some way, a gospel scene such as that of Jesus talking with you on the boat or on the shore of Galilee. In this way they make it more personal and more closely related to their life.

Step 4  Allowing The Experience Of God To Deepen

          This is the level of the experience of God in depth. This is a transforming state. Expose yourself to God. There is nothing to hide from God. This is deeper form of prayer by which you completely give to God. You are in complete agreement with God. You do not think of anything else other than God. Be in the presence of God. Feel the deep relaxation and peace that is flowing from the Spirit of God. 

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