Questions about contemplative prayer


How does charismatic spirituality relate to contemplative prayer? I’m not sure if I’d classify myself as charismatic but I’m thinking I may be because for about a year and a half I’ve been having an experiential prayer relationship with God in that if I allow it the Holy Spirit moves me physically. This started two summers ago while praying before the tabernacle. My question is how should I expect my spiritual experiences to change as I mature? Would it be reasonable to suspect that my prayer life will mature and develop into what is a more “traditional” contemplative spirituality. The reason I ask this is because the religious community I’m interested in, the Daughters of St. Paul, aren’t charismatic per se. I just went on a retreat with them and for their communal hour of adoration before the Eucharist we just sat quietly before the exposed Eucharist and I didn’t feel it was an appropriate time to pray as I’m accustomed to because it would have been a distraction. There is time for personal prayer so I prayed like I normally would then, allowing the Spirit to physically move me. I’m just trying to figure out that as I mature in my spiritual walk if it is plausable I may grow into thier spirituality which is more “traditional” or contemplative.



Hi Shana, have you ever read "the Interior Castle" by St Teresa of Avila, or the "Fire Within"? those are good books about contemplative spirituality :)

on a whole, it's less focused on spiritual experiences.... meaning that they are not sought.

Sorry I don't know how to describe it, (Im sure others here would know more :)) but here's the part from the catechism:


2709 What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us."6 Contemplative prayer seeks him "whom my soul loves."7 It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.

2710 The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith.

2711 Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we "gather up:" the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed.

2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.8 But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.

2713 Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts.9 Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, "to his likeness."

2714 Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through his Spirit "that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith" and we may be "grounded in love."10

2715 Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me": this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the "interior knowledge of our Lord," the more to love him and follow him.11

2716 Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the "Yes" of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God's lowly handmaid.

2717 Contemplative prayer is silence, the "symbol of the world to come"12 or "silent love."13 Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the "outer" man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.

2718 Contemplative prayer is a union with the prayer of Christ insofar as it makes us participate in his mystery. The mystery of Christ is celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in contemplative prayer so that our charity will manifest it in our acts.

2719 Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. The Paschal night of the Resurrection passes through the night of the agony and the tomb - the three intense moments of the Hour of Jesus which his Spirit (and not "the flesh [which] is weak") brings to life in prayer. We must be willing to "keep watch with [him] one hour."14


The extraordinary gift with which Charismatics are most identified is praying in tongues. I don’t know if this is where your question lies, but I will begin my answer from that point.
Shortly after I became a part of the Charismatic renewal, I heard the story of a Carmelite nun who questioned her need for this extraordinary gift. She already had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep spiritual life with much time spent in contemplative prayer. She drew the conclusion, “Lord, if this is from you, how could I refuse?.” When the nun accepted the gift of tongues, she found that she more easily entered into contemplative prayer. What before took hours, now took mere minutes, entering what St. John of the Cross called “the cloud of unknowing,” of experiencing God’s presence…

Charismatics are most often characterized by their vibrant prayer meetings, by their inhibition in giving praise to God. What goes unseen is the interior development of the individual as he/she, in the words of John the Baptist, “decreases that He might increase.” The spiritual life includes times of praise, of sharing what the Lord has done in the person’s life. It also includes what many call the more traditional forms of prayer, the recitation of the rosary being a prime example, along with contemplative adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. A charismatic prayer life is as varied as the individuals who are a part of the renewal.

To get back to the question. There does not need to be conflict between a contemplative and Charismatic prayer life.Indeed, contemplation can be an integral part of that life… It was a retreat that led me into the Charismatic Renewal. It is the Charismatic Renewal that led me toward silent retreats. I plan to spend my New Year’s Eve participating in a Holy Hour, followed by a concelebrated midnight Mass.


You may find the writings and music of John Michael Talbot to be of help to you.



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