Engage with God
It’s a noisy world.
To live and love well in this world, we have to know how to engage it—yet also know when to pull back from it.
This short book by Ed Cyzewski shares ten practices that we can all use to disentangle from the world and actively engage with God.
While the title implies it’s for The Contemplative Writer (and it is), it’s not only for writers and not only for contemplatives. It contains practical suggestions that anyone can use to varying degrees as they pay closer attention to God through prayer and/or writing.
“It’s my conviction that prayer and writing both come from a similar practice: attentiveness.”
None of the practices are difficult and none have to be done perfectly. They’re actually less about what we do and more about what we allow God to do.
“Let’s keep two things in focus: Contemplative prayer is about ‘resting in God,’ recognizing that such rest is a ‘gift from a loving God.’ Striving to make this happen won’t help you. Bearing guilt or shame about prayer won’t help either. We are receiving a gift of rest from a loving God that will, over time, transform us.”
Here’s a brief look at three of the ten practices (download the book for free to read them all, if you subscribe to Ed’s weekly newsletter).
Chapter 1: Listening
We often mistakenly believe that prayer is only us talking and God listening. But Ed makes this point early on: “If I have made one mistake in prayer, it’s believing that 100% of prayer relies on me: what I say, what I believe, and what I do.” When we simply show up to sit quietly with God—and listen—we are in prayer.
“What I am learning in small ways each and every day is that prayer primarily relies on God. My main role in prayer is to get myself out of the way. True, there are times when I should speak: making petitions, sharing praise, and thanksgiving. But even so, these words are best offered after a time of waiting on the Lord and hearing from him.”
Chapter 4: Centering
I so want the practice of contemplative prayer to work for me. But I have to be reminded over and over again that centering is not about working or efficiency or getting it “right”; it’s about submitting and welcoming and receiving. It’s about relationship. As Ed says, it’s about turning toward God rather than thinking about God.
“Most importantly, this is not about results. This is about turning to God and being present. The act of doing contemplative prayer is enough. There are no measurable results or levels we can reach in contemplation.”
Chapter 5: Examen
The Examen is an ancient devotional practice that invites guided reflection on the good and bad parts of your day. “Like everything else in this book, don’t give up on the Examen if you struggle to work through it at first.” (How did he know? I started a year ago, then stopped.)
There’s even a free app for it: the Examine app for iPhone.
It only requires a few minutes a day, so perhaps I’ll begin this practice again, not to try harder, but to be more aware.
“I rarely see good things in my life unless I intentionally reflect on the events of each day. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to many of us, and yet it is the way that we are told to approach God, offering thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 42:4, Psalm 100:4).”
Seven More Practices
The other seven practices included in The Contemplative Writer are:
- Free Writes
I’ve been reading Ed’s books for a few years now, and each one brings something I need and can use. And so it with this newest book as well.
“God always plays the long game with us, looking at a much bigger picture of our progress. If you can determine to turn away from your work, entertainment, worries, fears, responsibilities, and pleasures for only a brief time, then you have made an important step.”
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You can download the ebook for free with newsletter registration or buy it as an ebook for $.99 on Amazon.
Do you have a favorite spiritual practice? Please share in the comments.
- Books I Recommend – April 2016
- On the blog – April 2016