Perhaps it’s because I run in a certain stream of believers who are drawn to contemplation (or soaking, or drinking, or getting whacked…whatever you want to call it). But as of late, most people I talk to lately feel a great call to contemplating the mystery of Christ. And it’s not just sitting during a “quiet time” and meditating on the daily devotion or the selected number of chapters in your Bible Through a Year–I’m talking about active contemplation where you’re putting the Lord before everything you do; this is a continual whack, a constant buzz that permeates all of life that you touch.
Contemplation as a Lifestyle
If you’ve never read The Practice of the Presence of God you should pick up a copy stat! This was a monk who lived a life of active contemplation. He was so whacked that people would come from miles away just to watch him do the dishes! He connected with God and never disconnected himself. He put the Lord in front of his eyes and never took his eyes away.
There are people in our modern society who have chosen to give themselves to active contemplation because they love the Lord with all their heart, mind, and soul. I’ll detail a few for you below.
I’ve been researching monks a lot lately and listening to a lot of their music. Specifically I’ve been reading about the Monks of the Desert — those lovers in the desert in northern New Mexico of the Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery. Their passion for the Lord is tangible when listening to them talk about the Lord. Their lifestyle of constant contemplation is appealing. Their love for God and their life of devotion is noble.
These are guys who feel the call to contemplation because they have the unceasing desire to put the Lord before their eyes constantly. Day and night, night and day, they commune with the Lord. David wrote about this kind of lifestyle in Psalm 27:4: One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”
The IHOP community in Kansas City is unique in that the music and prayer in the prayer room has not stopped since its inception in 1999. IHOP’s model of night and day prayer, although not a new concept in Christian history, is doing it with a modern twist. Interns come worldwide to serve at the campus and offer themselves for short spurts of time as intercessory missionaries. Like David in Psalm 27, they gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and practice not peeling their eyes away.
It’s understandable if you’re shaking your head and thinking that maybe I’ve lost my mind. I’m not trying to get you to become a monk. Though truthfully, maybe if my life were different and if I hadn’t wanted to have a family, maybe I’d roll up to an unsuspecting abbey and profess my desire to live a contemplative lifestyle! Whether you make a pilgrimage to IHOP to soak in the prayer room is not important. In fact, there are glaring issues with both monasteries and IHOP that gives me pause.
However, I believe that God is calling the church into a lifestyle of contemplation. You don’t have to join a monastery or book a flight up to Kansas City to commune with the Lord in a deep and meaningful way.
The Lord is Calling the Church to Contemplation
David contemplated the goodness of the Lord while he was working. A shepherd, alone in a field, he wrote most of his psalms. He meditated on the glory and the promises of God and wrote thing like this: “Oh god, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory (Psalm 63: 1-2).”
I believe that God is calling the church to active contemplation. Learning how to meditate on Jesus while doing the work you do to make a living is not only possible but it’s fun! I’m a teacher, and although I don’t get it right 100% of the time, it’s so rewarding to think on the promises of God while working with middle school kids. Maybe you are a lawyer, a nurse, or a stay-at-home parent. The goal is all your own…you get however much of God as you want!
But God is calling the church to contemplation (soaking, drinking, being in his presence) because he’s so in love with us! Living a Psalm 27:4 lifestyle is easy. Don’t make it a work. If you go a while without thinking of God, don’t beat yourself up. Just think on God. You are training your mind to be God focused. There is power in a transformed mind.
It is my hypothesis that you will get more work accomplished, with better quality, when you are actively contemplating Jesus.
Here’s to a week of starting down a deep and riotous love relationship with your Lover!
Some tips to get you started:
- Set an achievable goal. Try to contemplate the Lord by meditating on a scripture or a promise he’s given you through a prophetic word for at least 30 minutes a day. Then, once you’ve gotten yourself to a place where you can keep the Lord before you for 30 minutes, raise the benchmark to an hour and then an hour and a half. Have fun with it!
- Be purposeful about selecting scripture you are going to meditate on. You’re not choosing a weekly memory verse. Memorizing is beneficial, but it’s not the goal here. Contemplation is the goal. You are rolling this verse around in your mind for the sole benefit of thinking on the Lord and getting into a deeper place with him.
- Know that you already have it all! All of Heaven is inside you. You have ALL the promises of God…it’s your glory to seek them out. This is not a work. This is a fun and restful activity.
- Share your experiences with friends and family. Tell them what you’re doing and try to get them to do it too! Like anything, it’ll be a lot more fun and easier when you’re practicing contemplation with others. You can share with each other your triumphs and struggles.