February 21, 2019

One of the stranger aspects about working as a professional writer (who also writes about contemplative prayer) is interacting with someone who thinks that everyone can write and devalues what a professional writer can bring to a project. To a certain extent, everyone can write something, but not everyone can write with the clarity and precision of a professional with hours of experience. Prayer can be a bit like writing in this regard. Anyone can pray, and surely God desires… Read more

February 11, 2019

Contemplative prayer can be one way that we are filled to the full measure of the fullness of God. Most Christians have not been prepared to understand or experience the love of God in this personal, immediate way.     As an evangelical, I learned about God’s love as one doctrine among many to affirm, a fact to be grateful for, and something to reciprocate. God’s love was something I could experience in theory, but devoting ten, twenty, or forty… Read more

February 2, 2019

Is it time for Christians to tidy up our beliefs and spiritual practices? That is the perhaps inevitable question being tossed around among Christians and #evangelicals of late due to the popularity of the best-selling The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the toxic beliefs and practices that have wounded so many sincere believers. On the surface, it’s a perfect match. A friend of mine who grew up in a particularly restricting and toxic fundamentalist church posted a provocative… Read more

January 25, 2019

The approach to contemplative prayer is largely counterintuitive for many American evangelicals. Contemplative prayer tells us to withdraw and retreat in order to one day move forward. Contemplative prayer nurtures silence in order to speak with wisdom and compassion. Contemplative prayer places our faith in an unseen, mysterious God rather than offering air-tight theology systems or the answers of careful Bible study. Contemplative prayer assures us that we will make progress and see results–eventually. When Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton… Read more

January 17, 2019

If there’s any group of people who could benefit from the grounding awareness of God and the empathy and compassion for others that come from contemplative prayer, it may be American evangelicals. Having said that, if there is any group in the world that may be the most resistant and ill-prepared for contemplative prayer, it may be American evangelicals. Our deficits in compassion and empathy are often on display in the ways that some white evangelicals fail to heed the… Read more

January 14, 2019

Before we talk about finding time to pray, I have a brief story to share… Imagine for a moment a rather short man approaching middle age walking through a park in Austin, TX with two young children. Let’s call him Ed for the sake of simplicity… and honesty. Ed sees a bunch of people running in this beautiful park just outside of a major city, and that gets Ed thinking, “I should start running again.” It’s been years since he… Read more

January 11, 2019

A little while ago, I wrote a blog post about the ways I modified my apps and smartphone use in order to made it “contemplative friendly” to help me pray more often. On a certain level, such an aspiration appears absurd since smartphones are designed to be data-collecting, dopamine doling distraction machines. Can a phone designed for distraction and disruption become a positive force in prompting prayer? The truth is that I’ve found myself trying to navigate compromises, making the… Read more

January 3, 2019

Silence has long been a cornerstone practice for Christian spirituality, ministry, and activism. This may appear counterintuitive at first and can be easily misunderstood unless we take a look at how silence was historically understood. Silence was viewed as a furnace for transformation, a practice that forced individuals to see themselves as they truly are. Without words to hide behind, we must face what really drives us and the kinds of people we are. The desert fathers and mothers believed… Read more

December 20, 2018

If you don’t know where to begin with prayer, it can become extremely frustrating and isolating. No matter how much time I spent trying to clear space and time on my schedule, prayer felt nearly impossible until I learned about some simple practices or starting points for prayer. That isn’t to say that “techniques” or practices are going to always deliver the results you want in prayer. Thomas Merton famously told the novice monks to simply become “more quiet.” He… Read more

December 14, 2018

What do you expect will happen if you pray? If you’ve set aside time for prayer, then surely you expect something to happen or some kind of change. Otherwise, what is the point? The problem is that some expectations for prayer can lead to a sense of perceived failure, personal unworthiness, or, at best, divine indifference. Prayer can be angering, frustrating, and disturbing if the expected outcome doesn’t come to pass. Even worse, the mountaintop prayer experiences of others can… Read more

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