“…when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6 The Common English Bible).
I am reading through Thomas Keating’s book Open Mind, Open Heart on the subject of Centering Prayer. The book is assigned reading for my Formation. On page 19, Keating wrote, “Prayer in secret seems to be Jesus’ term for what later became known in Christian tradition as contemplation. These are obviously three movements into deeper degrees of silence. The third movement takes place when our awareness joins the hidden God in the secrecy where God actually dwells and is waiting for us.”
We tend to think about us waiting for God, but, do we take time to ponder the thought that God waits ever so patiently for us?
In The Rule of St. Benedict, he wrote, “,,,,the Lord waits for us daily, to translate into action, as we should, his holy teaching” (RB 1980: Prologue vs. 35, p.18). The purpose of closing the door and spending time in silent prayer and contemplation is to allow God to move our hearts. The Prophet Ezekiel wrote, ” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one” (Ezekiel 36:26 The Common English Bible). Physically closing the door of our personal prayer space already begins the process of shutting out the world, and going deeper into our interior selves. Thomas Keating recommends that we can silence other interior noise by detaching our minds from all the thoughts that are there, and simply letting them be absorbed by the presence of God. To have a deeper consciousness of God, we need to leave the world behind for a little while to see things from God’s point of view.
When we look at ourselves from God’s point of view in contemplative prayer, and hopefully for the rest of our day; we will be orientated away from judging others or focusing on things that are passing away. Instead, “our hearts” will “overflow with the inexpressible delight of love” (RB 1980: Prologue vs.19, p.19) so that we may “prefer Christ above all else” (RB 1980: Chapter 72, p.95).
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB