10: Prayer as Relationship, Pt. 2

Leon Berkowitz, Cup #7, 1975

“Come,” says my heart,
“seek the face of God.”
Your face, O Lord, do I seek.
– Psalm 27:8

In this session we move deeper into awareness of the unfolding relationship that is initiated in contemplative prayer. What follows are various expressions of this unfolding relationship for pondering.  After reading each one, pause a moment and listen for what word, idea, feeling, insight or image comes to you. Jot it down.  Remain in silence for a few moments.  Then continue with the next selection.


“We are built for contemplation … Communion with God in the silence of the heart is a God-given capacity, like the rhododendron’s capacity to flower, the fledglings’ for flight, and the child’s for self-forgetful abandon and joy.”

– Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land

– pause and reflect –

“The classical meaning of contemplation, which I believe comes out of Matthew 6:6, and which Jesus calls ‘prayer in secret,’ is about a deepening relationship that involves the intention to converse with God, or to open and consent to the presence of God. To converse with God presupposes a willingness to listen to God. Listening is an act of silence. You cannot hear what somebody else is saying if you are talking all the time. Prayer as relationship emerges as the essence of prayer, which can then be expressed in many different ways. …

“Little by little we enter into prayer without any other intention except to consent. Consent becomes surrender. And surrender becomes total receptivity as this process evolves. And total receptivity is effortless.”

– Thomas Keating, from Session 10 video, “Centering Prayer,” Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ 

 – pause and reflect –

 “You bring all of yourself to the contemplative path, including your actions, your efforts, and your dedication, yet action that becomes too effortful interferes with your receptivity to God … Contemplation is effortless in the same way that the falling of snow is effortless … In receptive effortlessness, there is nowhere to go, nothing to deepen, not even any need to be gentle. The depth of contemplation is just being, effortlessly, in God.”

– David Frenette, The Path of Centering Prayer

– pause and reflect –

The Gift

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful.
That the gift has been given.

– Mary Oliver, Felicity

To Practice
  • View the video excerpt “Centering Prayer” from Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ.  This excerpt is about nine minutes in length.
  • After reflecting upon these passages, what is meaningful for you at this time? What did you note or jot down about contemplative prayer or your spiritual journey?


“Centering Prayer,” excerpted from Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ, 9 mins.
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Audio for this Narrative

"The Method of Centering Prayer, Guideline #3: Handling Thoughts" from "The Spiritual Journey Prologue," 14 mins.
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