It’s Friday again, time for me to recommend another practical book on prayer!
New Seeds of Contemplation, by the late Thomas Merton, is one of the modern classics on this subject. It’s a great one for anyone who wants to live an examined life. Merton goes deep, addressing not only the nature of contemplation but how it affects us as individuals – through this type of prayer, we can become more truly ourselves, and we can gain a better relationship with God and the world. He shows very clearly that prayer brings peace not because it helps us escape from the world but because it helps us engage with the world:
If you regard contemplation principally as a means to escape from the miseries of human life, as a withdrawal from the anguish and the suffering of this struggle for reunion with other men in the charity of Christ, you do not know what contemplation is… For it is precisely in the recovery of our union with our brothers in Christ that we discover God and know Him, for then His life begins to penetrate our souls and His love possesses our faculties and we are able to find out who He is from the experience of His mercy, liberating us from the prison of self-concern.
As with all the books I’ve reviewed so far this month, this one is a collection of potent reflections that can be read in small pieces. I highly recommend reading bits of this book daily – Merton’s strong voice will challenge you to live a more authentic life and inspire you to seek God more wholeheartedly.
Today’s 15 minutes of prayer: Taken on my lunch break. I was feeling stressed about various things, my body almost at the point of fight-or-flight. Sitting there and trying to submit myself to God at that moment, I realized how little I allow myself to experience bad feelings normally. It was definitely different to sit there with the physical feelings of stress and try to give them up to God rather than giving myself some kind of outlet or distraction. That’s part of what I’m working out in prayer, I suppose…