Contemplation is a Threat to the Secular Worldview, and to Most Assumptions About Prayer

Here’s a little Richard Rohr for your Sunday Morning:

“Contemplation,” or meditation as it is called by some, became more popular in contemporary times through the writings of Thomas Merton. The word most Christians were more familiar with was simply “prayer.”

Unfortunately, in the West prayer became something functional; something you did to achieve a desired effect—which puts you back in charge. As soon as you make prayer a way to get something, you’re not moving into a new state of consciousness. It’s the same old consciousness. “How can I get God to do what I want God to do?” It’s the egocentric self still deciding what it needs, but now often trying to manipulate God too.

This is one reason religion is in such desperate straits today. It really isn’t transforming people, but leaving them in their separated and egocentric state. It pulls God inside of my agenda instead of letting God pull me inside of his. This is still the small old self at work. What the Gospel is talking about is the emergence of “a whole new creation” and a “new mind,” as Paul variously calls it.”

Another thought from Rohr on how subversive this kind of prayer life is to the rest of our secular culture:

 “The contemplative mind is the most absolute assault on the secular world view, because it really is an altogether different mind. The ego cannot rely upon it to do its bidding. The calculating mind of the “small self” reads everything in terms of personal advantage, short-term effort, and “What’s in it for me?”—“How will I look?”, “How can I look good?”. It cannot see things in a new, imaginative, or disinterested way. It is still “all about me.” All the great religions have taught that we need an utterly different perspective, a different vantage point, and a different starting point to see things as God sees them. It cannot start with “me,” or it will end with “me,” too. (Richard Rohr – The Gospel Call to Compassionate Action)

About Tim Suttle

Find out more about Tim at TimSuttle.com

Tim Suttle is the senior pastor of RedemptionChurchkc.com. He is the author of several books including his most recent - Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), & An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals.

Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. The band's most recent album is "Straight Back to Kansas." He helped to plant three thriving churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • http://towardfatherhood.com j oliver

    Oh, fantastic. Thanks for this. I just confessed to my wife the other day that this thought had bubbled up from some dark place within me: How can I pray about our finances in such a way that I won’t have to do it again?
    I know, right? Bleh!
    I don’t want to be one who prays to get things from God. I just want to…be there with him…you know?
    Good stuff.

    • Tim Suttle

      Jesus is the single most subversive figure in history, in terms of subverting the powers of the world.


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