3 Spiritual Practices for Paying Closer Attention to God

God-is-speaking

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.

The-Contemplative-Writer

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:

  • Silence
  • Guides
  • Free Writes
  • Imagination
  • Hours
  • Habits
  • Community

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.”

* * *

For more on contemplative practices, visit Ed’s new website, The Contemplative Writer. You’ll find prayer resources and blog posts and a sign-up for a weekly email.

You can download the ebook for free with newsletter registration or buy it as an ebook for $.99 on Amazon.

More here on spiritual disciplines

Do you have a favorite spiritual practice? Please share in the comments.

20 thoughts on “3 Spiritual Practices for Paying Closer Attention to God

  1. Kristi Woods

    Sounds like a thoughtful and helpful read, Lisa. I read your post recently – was either about books you’re reading or 10 you recommend, or something of the sort. This book was on the list. It caught my eye. It catches it once again with your review here. Thanks for sharing. #thoughtprovokingThursday
    Kristi Woods recently posted…When You Don’t Know What to Pray, Pray ThisMy Profile

  2. Jerralea

    Lisa, thank you so much for sharing this great resource. It definitely speaks to what my struggle is right now – Rest and finding time for Silence to hear from God.

    I’m going right away to sign up for Ed’s newsletter and download the book!
    Jerralea recently posted…eXistMy Profile

  3. David

    Exciting. I’ll sign up or the newsletter and download the app.

    I am starting to feel the benefit of a kind of daily devotion. I mean making sure I do something “scriptural” or “prayer-like” every day, preferably as early in the day as possible. It doesn’t matter what perhaps or for how long, as long as it hits a certain level of intensity. Everything feels new and difficult and serious. I’m not disgusted at myself but I do feel more entangled. In the same way all this feels like life, and “enjoyable” in the same way.

    Lambing season is over and now calves are starting to appear in the fields, staggering about uncertainly. So what happens to your old life? Was that just a waste?

    David
    David recently posted…Idea for dealing with temptationMy Profile

  4. Betsy de Cruz

    Wow, Lisa. Thanks so much for sharing Ed’s book and three of the spiritual practices. I think I’m going to get the download. (I have some Amazon money in giftcards. 🙂 )

    Interesting to think that these prayer practices are intertwined with writing.

  5. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! This looks like a dynamite book, I love combining the writing and contemplation. He’s right, I think we all get great inspiration from our quiet communion with God and his creation.
    I love the meme you have at the start of your post. I really do believe that myself. God is always speaking, it’s me that isn’t always listening!
    Blessings,
    Ceil
    Ceil recently posted…Sometimes, It Takes A Little MoreMy Profile

  6. Sue Donaldson

    i enjoyed your post – i’m a little too adhd to be a contemplative, but i enjoy my sitting and waiting and reading and, yes, talking w/ God each morning. and have begun (more anyway!) starting with thanksgiving.
    you might enjoyThe Seeking Heart by Fenelon. i blog his pithy statements often enough and I call him a 17th century Catholic blogger – very practical.
    thanks, lisa.

  7. Beverley

    I have just read a book by this author, but I didn’t get it! I thought it was unorganised and lacked follow through. I put it down to be a different way of looking at God than I do. Set prayers are few where I go to church, we are encouraged to pray from our hearts, so the Examen is something I find a little odd. But a good review.

  8. Betty Draper

    The older I get the more I am able to be silence. Maybe it’s because I have voiced all my opinions and maybe it’s because I have learned a thing or two in my loud and busy life. You always have interesting books to search out for ourselves. Thanks for the resources.
    Betty Draper recently posted…God Loves SeekersMy Profile

  9. Lux G.

    I honestly need to listed to God more.
    These are amazing and helpful tips. Not to mention enlightening.

    Happy Sunday, Lisa!

  10. Beth

    Love this, Lisa, and just subscribed to Ed’s list and can’t wait to read the book. I do several contemplative practices already but am excited to learn about more. Thanks for this resource and for you words that encourage us all to take our time with God to a new level, my friend!
    Beth recently posted…Giving Up on Your Marriage?My Profile

  11. ~ linda

    Such a blessing to have come by here, Lisa. These practices are really for us all, writers or not! I believe I could use this extra encouragement to create better habits into my spiritual quiet time. Thank you, thank you.
    May the rest of today be sweet with your family, and the week be a blessing to you and all you touch.

  12. Michele Morin

    I’ve been hearing about Ed Cyzewski lately, but hadn’t heard of this book — it goes along with a couple of books that I’ve read this year about spiritual disciplines and listening, cultivating a life of rest. This one seems to take all of that into consideration. Thanks for the heads up!
    Michele Morin recently posted…Borrowed Strength for MothersMy Profile

  13. Diana Rockwell

    I am your neighbor on let us walk worthy. I love the topic of prayer. It seems the more I read the more I want to read. Thanks for this resource. I write my prayers. Blessings Diana

  14. Laura Thomas

    This looks great, Lisa—I’ve just downloaded it! Thanks for passing on great resources and ways for us to grow and learn and live out our faith. I always look forward to seeing what gems you have here 🙂 Stopping by from 3D Lessons For Life—blessings!


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