The Active Prayer Practice

Q: The active prayer is my daily "go to" practice along with Centering Prayer. Can you please clarify the differences and similarities between receptive and active contemplative practices, and how they can complement each other? Can the active prayer actually become a receptive practice?

A:  Receptivity is like holding out an open hand, waiting patiently to receive what is desired.  There is no additional activity; the real activity is within our steady intentionality.  So a receptive prayer of intention could be expressed as “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.” The intention is one of resting in God.

The active part of receptivity is the hand in motion.  It is the inner gesture of keeping my intentions and awareness in the present moment, living from my center – my Source — as I go about the business of the day. This includes responding and participating as needed in the moment. 

The similarity between Centering Prayer and the active prayer is in celebrating one’s center — one’s Source.  And both of these practices are different ways to express the intention to consent to God’s presence and action. In Centering Prayer, you experience it in darkness and with the active prayer, you experience in the light.  So the essence of active prayer is already receptive and this receptivity grows over time, where you see and experience all things in the framework of the bigger picture.

“For, living close to You, we shall see Your Hand, Your Purpose, Your Will through all things.”
– Prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola

Blessings, Fr. Carl.