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A State of Contemplation?
Q: I've been practicing Centering Prayer for a while now, and also sometimes practice Lectio Divina either on its own, or after my Centering Prayer time in the morning, but recently the conversation with God seems to have changed. I THINK that He sometimes speaks to me out of my own mouth, but I'm not sure if it's just wishful thinking on my part or not. Sometimes, but not all the time, when I am experiencing that wonderful, heart-swelling sense of closeness with him, I sense words coming out of my heart. As long as I am extremely mindful to not try and add anything extra (e.g. thoughts that come from my own head, feelings, etc.), it seems as though the Lord speaks to me for a time, until whatever words of love and kindness He wants to say are finished. Please understand that this is not a HEARD voice, as in an auditory hallucination, but rather a...felt knowledge of words, which are often "spoken" to my heart simultaneously alongside questions I may ask. Also, please understand that I am not in any way practicing any sort of mysticism, sorcery, etc. I am simply trying to listen and be silent, open, and attentive as prescribed in these practices. So I'm sending you this inquiry to ask, is what I'm describing even possible? Does God ever work this way, or am I just being naive?
A: It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with the Lord. Two things come to mind in relation to what you are experiencing:
- Remember that the fruits of our prayer are not necessarily experienced during the prayer time but in daily life. What have you noticed that is different in your daily life? Or what have others noticed that is different about you?
- Guideline #3 of Centering Prayer states "When you become engaged with any thoughts, ever so gently return to your sacred symbol." We are asked to let go of whatever we are engaged with during the prayer itself. Why do we do this? To leave room for the Holy Spirit to work in us at a deeper level. Is it possible that what you are experiencing is happening because you already have established a habit of letting go, which now allows these conversations to take place. As you are letting go of your conversation with the Lord, in the space created, the Lord is initiating His own.
Yes God can work in these ways - you are not being naive. As you said, you are sure they are not your creation. It sounds as if Centering Prayer as a method has led you to a state of contemplation, to another level of communing and being with God.
Consider and bring to prayer these two insights but with this caveat - be with them but do not be attached to them. These are just guidelines and are not essential to your relation with the Lord. Be joyful. Continue to remain detached from any expectation or dependence on how God is communing with you. Continue to let God lead the dance.