Monday, July 1, 2013

Efficacy of prayer

God and the Angels--->

Prayer, the lifting of the mind and heart to God, plays an essential role in the life of a devout Catholic.
Without a life of prayer, we risk losing the life of grace in our souls, grace that comes to us first in baptism and later chiefly through the other sacraments and through prayer itself (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2565).
Through prayer we enter into the presence of the Godhead dwelling in us. It is prayer which allows us to adore God, by acknowledging his almighty power; it is prayer that allows us to bring our thanks, our petitions, and our sorrow for sin before our Lord and God.

While prayer is not a practice unique to Catholics, those prayers that are called "Catholic" are generally formulaic in nature. That is, the teaching Church sets before us how we ought to pray. Drawing from the words of Christ, the writings of Scripture and the saints, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she supplies us with prayers grounded in Christian tradition. Further, our informal, spontaneous prayers, both vocal and meditative, are informed by and shaped by those prayers taught by the Church, prayers that are the wellspring for the prayer life of all Catholics. Without the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church and through her saints, we would not know how to pray as we ought (CCC, 2650).

As the prayers themselves witness, the Church teaches us that we should pray not only directly to God, but also to those who are close to God, those who have the power to intercede upon our behalf. Indeed, we pray to the angels to help and watch over us; we pray to the saints in heaven to ask their intercession and assistance; we pray to the Blessed Mother to enlist her aid, to ask her to beg her Son to hear our prayers. Further, we pray not only on our own behalf, but also on the behalf of those souls in purgatory and of those brothers on earth who are in need. Prayer unites us to God; in doing so, we are united to the other members of the Mystical Body.

This communal aspect of prayer is reflected not only in the nature of Catholic prayers, but also in the very words of the prayers themselves. In reading many of the basic formulaic prayers, it will become apparent that, for the Catholic, prayer is often meant to be prayed in the company of others. Christ himself encouraged us to pray together: "For wherever two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).

The efficacy of prayer has been the topic of various studies since Francis Galton (was an English Victorian polymath: anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician) first addressed it in 1872. According to the Washington Post, "...prayer is the most common complement to mainstream medicine, far outpacing acupuncture, herbs, vitamins and other alternative remedies."


Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity, an object of worship, or a spiritual entity through deliberate communication. Prayer can be a form of religious practice, may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of a hymn, incantation, formal creed, or a spontaneous utterance in the praying person. There are different forms of prayer such as petitionary prayer, prayers of supplication, thanksgiving, and worship/praise. Prayer may be directed towards a deity, spirit, deceased person, or lofty idea, for the purpose of worshipping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing sins or to express one's thoughts and emotions. Thus, people pray for many reasons such as personal benefit or for the sake of others. Meditation is also a common form of>
Most major religions involve prayer in one way or another. Some ritualize the act of prayer, requiring a strict sequence of actions or placing a restriction on who is permitted to pray, while others teach that prayer may be practiced spontaneously by anyone at any time.

So, we say that prayer is a form of communication, a way of talking to God or to the saints. The word "pray" comes from the Latin word "precari", which simply means to entreat or ask. In fact, although pray is not often used this way anymore, it can simply mean “please,” as in “pray continue your story.”


While we often still think of prayer primarily as asking God for something, prayer, properly understood, is a conversation with God or with the saints. Just as we cannot hold a conversation with another person unless he can hear us, the very act of praying is an implicit recognition of the presence of God or the saints here with us. And in praying, we strengthen that recognition of the presence of God, which draws us closer to Him. That is why the Church recommends that we pray frequently and make prayer an important part of our everyday lives.


Various spiritual traditions offer a wide variety of devotional acts. There are morning and evening prayers, graces said over meals, and reverent physical gestures. Some Christians bow their heads and fold their hands. Some Native Americans regard dancing as a form of prayer.
Some Sufis whirl.
Hindus chant mantras.
Jewish prayer may involve swaying back and forth and bowing. Muslims practice salah (kneeling and prostration) in their prayers.
Quakers keeps silent. Some pray according to standardized rituals and liturgies, while others prefer extemporaneous prayers. Still others combine the two.

These methods show a variety of understandings to prayer, which are led by underlying beliefs. These beliefs may be that:

- the finite can communicate with the infinite (called God)
- the infinite is interested in communicating with the finite.
- prayer is intended to inculcate certain attitudes in the one who prays, rather than to influence the recipient.
- prayer is intended to train a person to focus on the recipient through philosophy and intellectual contemplation.
- prayer is intended to enable a person to gain a direct experience of the recipient.
- prayer is intended to affect the very fabric of reality as we perceive it - prayer is a catalyst for change in oneself and/or one's circumstances, or likewise those of third party beneficiaries.
- the recipient desires and appreciates prayer,
- or any combination of these.

The act of prayer is attested in written sources as early as 5000 years ago. Some anthropologists, such as - Sir Edward Burnett Tylor and Sir James George Frazer, believed that the earliest intelligent modern humans practiced something that we would recognize today as prayer.
Friedrich Heiler is often cited in Christian circles for his systematic Typology of Prayer which lists six types of prayer: primitive, ritual, Greek cultural, philosophical, mystical, and prophetic.


Prayer has many different forms. Prayer may be done privately and individually, or it may be done corporately in the presence of fellow believers. Prayer can be incorporated into a daily "thought life", in which one is in constant communication with a god. Some people pray throughout all that is happening during the day and seek guidance as the day progresses. This is actually regarded as a requirement in several Christian denominations.

A variety of body postures may be assumed, often with specific meaning (mainly respect or adoration) associated with them: standing; sitting; kneeling; prostrate on the floor; eyes opened; eyes closed; hands folded or clasped; hands upraised; holding hands with others; a laying on of hands and others. Prayers may be recited from memory, read from a book of prayers, or composed spontaneously as they are prayed. They may be said, chanted, or sung. They may be with musical accompaniment or not. There may be a time of outward silence while prayers are offered mentally. Often, there are prayers to fit specific occasions, such as the blessing of a meal, the birth or death of a loved one, other significant events in the life of a believer, or days of the year that have special religious significance.

In the common Bible of the Abrahamic religions, various forms of prayer appear; the most common forms being petition, thanksgiving, and worship. The longest book in the Bible is the Book of Psalms, 150 religious songs which are often regarded as prayers. Other well-known Biblical prayers include the Song of Moses (Exodus 15:1–18), the Song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1–10), and the Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55). But perhaps the best-known prayer in the Christian Bible is the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13; Luke 11:2–4).

Christian prayers are quite varied. They can be completely spontaneous, or read entirely from a text, like the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The most common prayer among Christians is the Lord's Prayer, which according to the gospel accounts (e.g. Matthew 6:9–13) is how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. The Lord's prayer is a model for prayers of adoration, confession and petition in Christianity.
Christians generally pray to God-Father. Some Christians (e.g., Catholics, Orthodox) will also ask the righteous in heaven and "in Christ," such as Virgin Mary or other saints to intercede by praying on their behalf (intercession of saints). The formula closures include "through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, through all the ages of ages," and "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

It is customary among Protestants to end prayers with "In Jesus' name, Amen" or "In the name of Christ, Amen." However, the most commonly used closure in Christianity is simply "Amen" (from a Hebrew adverb used as a statement of affirmation or agreement, usually translated as so be it).
In the Western or Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, probably the most common is the Rosary; In the Eastern Church (the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church), the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer is also often repeated as part of the meditative hesychasm practice in Eastern Christianity.

Roman Catholic tradition includes specific prayers and devotions as acts of reparation which do not involve a petition for a living or deceased beneficiary, but aim to repair the sins of others, e.g. for the repair of the sin of blasphemy performed by others.


From Biblical times to today, the most common form of prayer is to directly appeal to God to grant one's requests.
This in many ways is the simplest form of prayer. Some have termed this the social approach to prayer. In this view, a person directly enters into God's rest, and asks for their needs to be fulfilled. God listens to the prayer, and may so or not choose to answer in the way one asks of him. This is the primary approach to prayer found in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, most of the Church writings, and in rabbinic literature such as the Talmud.


“More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of.” (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

“Faith can move mountains.” (The Bible; Matthew 21:21)

Religious traditions across the world display beliefs in healing through prayer. The healing powers of prayer have been examined and also randomized controlled trials. We illustrate randomized controlled trials on prayer and healing, with one study in each of different categories of outcome. We provide a critical analysis of the scientific and philosophical dimensions of such research. Prayer has been investigated to improve outcomes in human as well as nonhuman species, and have retrospective healing effects. For a multitude of reasons, research on the healing effects of prayer is riddled with assumptions, challenges and contradictions by those who doesn´t believe and doubt, and make of the subject a scientific and religious minefield.

This is a serious scientific article that examines conceptual and methodological issues underlying randomized controlled trials on prayer and healing. We do not intend to belittle any religion or the religious practices of those who pray, nor do we deny the medical and psychosocial benefits that have been identified to result from religious affiliations and practices.

Religious practices have been associated with healing for millennia. People pray for good health and for relief from illness. Prayer may result in health and healing through one or more of several mechanisms. We briefly consider these mechanisms.


Prayer is a special form of meditation and may therefore convey all the health benefits that have been associated with meditation:

Different types of meditation have been shown to result in psychological and biological changes that are actually or potentially associated with improved health. Meditation has been found to produce a clinically significant reduction in resting as well as ambulatory blood pressure,
to reduce heart rate,
to result in cardiorespiratory synchronization,
to alter levels of melatonin and serotonin,
to suppress corticostriatal glutamatergic neurotransmission,
to boost the beneficia immune response,
to decrease the levels of reactive oxygen species as measured by ultraweak photon emission,
to reduce stress and promote positive mood states and gives joy
to reduce anxiety and pain and enhance self-esteem,
and to have a favorable influence on overall and spiritual quality of life in late-stage disease.

Interestingly, spiritual meditation has been found to be superior to secular meditation and relaxation in terms of decrease in anxiety and improvement in positive mood, spiritual health, spiritual experiences and tolerance to pain.

Prayer may be supported by varying degrees of faith and may therefore be associated with all the benefits that have been associated with the placebo response

Clinically significant treatment gains have been observed with placebo in numerous disorders, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, tardive dyskinesia, ischemic heart disease, cardiac failure, Parkinson's disease and even cancer, among a host of other conditions. Relevant to the context of prayer and healing, the placebo response is influenced by personality traits and behaviors such as optimism, response expectancy motivational concordance i.e., the degree to which the behavioral rituals of the therapy are congruent with the motivational system of the subject and degree of engagement with a ritual.

Prayer may be associated with improvements that result from spontaneous remission, regression to the mean, nonspecific psychosocial support, the Hawthorne effect and the Rosenthal effect.

Spontaneous remission is well known to occur in conditions that range from medical disorders (e.g., coryza and pharyngitis) to psychiatric states (e.g., depression and mania). Regression to the mean describes improvement that occurs as a result of random fluctuation in the severity of illness; in clinical trials, because patients are usually preselected for greater severity of illness, such fluctuations usually occur in only one direction (i.e., toward improvement Nonspecific emotional support provides psychological benefits through interpersonal contact, such as during diagnostic and rating exercises. Nonspecific support can reduce anxiety, depression, pain and similar constructs.

Spontaneous remission and regression to the mean may occur coincidental to prayer. Nonspecific psychosocial support related to prayer may arise in group prayer settings. Improvements in all these contexts are true improvements. In contrast, in randomized controlled studies on the efficacy of prayer as a treatment, rated improvements that are not true improvements may also occur; explanations for such improvement include the Hawthorne effect and the Rosenthal effect.

The Hawthorne effect refers to change that occurs as a result of the act of observation or measurement, whereas the Rosenthal effect refers to change resulting from observer or rater expectancy. With regard to the former, the comforting environment of the study setting or the conscious or unconscious wish of the patient to please may result in the report of less symptoms than actually exist. With regard to the latter, the tendency of the rater to expect symptom attenuation across time may result in the attachment of lower significance to reported symptoms.


Although the very consideration of such a possibility may appear scientifically bizarre, it cannot be denied that, across the planet, people pray for health and for relief of symptoms in times of sickness. Healing through prayer, healing through religious rituals, healing at places of pilgrimage and healing through related forms of intervention are well-established traditions in many religions.

Meditation, the placebo response, regression to the mean, the natural course of various illnesses, nonspecific emotional support, the Hawthorne effect and the Rosenthal effect have all been studied. What about divine intervention as a mechanism of recovery of health through prayer? This has also been seriously investigated.

Studies conducted a systematic review of the literature on the efficacy of any form of distant healing as a treatment for any medical condition. A total of 23 trials involving 2,774 patients met the inclusion criteria and were subjected to analysis. Of these studies, 13 (57%) yielded statistically significant treatment effects favoring distant healing, nine showed no superiority of distant healing over control interventions and one showed a negative effect for distant healing.

The methodological limitations of many of the studies, however, made it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the efficacy of distant healing. Of note, Astin et al.[The following popper user interface control may not be accessible. Tab to the next button to revert the control to an accessible version.Destroy user interface control30] defined distant healing to include spiritual healing, prayer, and any form of healing from a distance, effected as a conscious act that seeks to benefit another person. Therapeutic touch and Reiki were both included in the definition; as both of these may elicit an expectancy response.

In another systematic review, Crawford examined the quality of studies of hands-on healing and distance healing that were published between 1955 and 2001. There were 90 identified studies of which 45 had been conducted in clinical settings and 45 in laboratory settings. Crawford reported that 71% of the clinical studies and 62% of the laboratory studies reported positive outcomes; and that the overall internal validity for the studies on distance healing was 75% for the clinical investigations and 81% for the laboratory>
In the present article, we present a purposive, qualitative review of the scientific literature on possible paranormal healing through prayer. We then critically evaluate the scientific and religious implications of such research.
Most recent studies on prayer and healing have adopted this design.

In such studies, commonly, a group of intercessors prays for the health of patients who are randomized to the intervention group. These patients do not know that they are being prayed for, and the persons who are praying do not come in contact with the patients for whom they pray. Medical outcomes in these patients are compared with outcomes in patients randomized to the control group who are not prayed for. Finally and importantly, the medical treatment team is also blind to the prayer group status of individual patients. Thus, these studies are triple-blind.

In this purposive review, we illustrate the nature of the research in the field by presenting one human and one nonhuman study on improved outcomes associated with prayer, one study showing no difference between prayer and control conditions, one study showing worse outcomes with prayer and one study suggesting that prayer may have a very benefical healing effect. We then provide a detailed, critical evaluation of the scientific and theological implications of such research.


Improved outcomes associated with prayer.

It was studied 219 consecutive infertile women, aged 26-46 years, who were treated with in vitro fertilization embryo transfer in Seoul, South Korea. These women were randomized into distant prayer and control groups. Prayer was conducted by prayer groups in the USA, Canada and Australia. The patients and their providers were not informed about the intervention. The investigators, and even the statisticians, did not know the group allocations until all the data had been collected. Thus, the study was randomized, controlled and prospective in design.

It was found that the women who had been prayed for had nearly twice as high a pregnancy rate as those who had not been prayed for (50 vs. 26%; P <0.005). Furthermore, the women who had been prayed for showed a higher implantation rate than those who had not been prayed for (16.3 vs. 8%; P <0.001).
Finally, the benefits of prayer were independent of clinical or laboratory providers and clinical variables. Thus, this study showed that distant prayer gives a very good result and facilitates pregnancy.

It was described a study on the effect of intercessory prayer on wound healing in a nonhuman primate species. The sample comprised 22 bush babies (Otolemur garnettii) with wounds resulting from chronic self-injurious behavior. These animals were randomized into prayer and control groups that were similar at baseline.

Prayer was conducted for 4 weeks. Both groups of bush babies additionally received L-tryptophan. Lesniak found that the prayer group animals had a greater reduction in wound size and a greater improvement in hematological parameters than the control animals. This study is important because it was conducted in a nonhuman species; therefore, the likelihood of a placebo effect was removed.
And again proved that pray it is also very beneficial for animals.


Also was examined cardiovascular outcomes related to prayer. In this study, 799 coronary care unit patients at discharge were randomized to intercessory prayer or no prayer conditions. Prayer was conducted by five persons per patient at least once a week for 26 weeks.

Patients were considered to belong to a high-risk group if they were 70 years old or older or if they had any of the following: diabetes mellitus, previous myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular disease or peripheral vascular disease. The primary endpoint of the study was any of the following: death, cardiac arrest, rehospitalization for cardiovascular disease, coronary revascularization or an emergency department visit for cardiovascular disease.

Benson described a randomized controlled study that examined whether remote intercessory prayer influenced recovery after coronary artery bypass graft surgery and whether the certainty of being prayed for was associated with better outcomes. The sample comprised 1,802 patients in six hospitals in the USA. These patients were randomized into three groups: 604 were prayed for after being informed that they may or may not be prayed for, 597 were not prayed for after similarly being informed that they may or may not be prayed for and 601 were prayed for after being informed they would definitely be prayed for.

Prayer commenced one day before the surgery and continued for 14 days. Three mainstream religious sites prayed daily for patients assigned to receive prayer. Assessment of outcomes was made by nurses who were blind to the group assignments. The primary outcome was the presence of any complication within 30 days of surgery. Secondary outcomes were any major event, including death. The study sought to examine the efficacy of intercessory prayer and not to test the presence of God. The design was described by Dusek.

In the two groups that did not know for certain whether or not they were being prayed for, complications occurred in 52% of patients who received intercessory prayer and in 51% of those who did not. In contrast, complications occurred in a significantly larger proportion of patients (59%) who knew for certain that they were being prayed for. Major events and 30-day mortality rates, however, were similar across the three groups.

This study therefore showed that remote intercessory prayer got improved outcomes after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. In fact, the knowledge of being prayed for was associated with a slightly but significantly higher rate of postsurgical complications.


Leibovici reported the results of an unusual study that was conducted in Israel. The sample comprised 3,393 in patients diagnosed with a bloodstream infection between 1990 and 1996. Bloodstream infection was defined as a positive blood culture in the presence of sepsis.

These patients were randomized into prayer (n = 1,691) and control (n = 1,702) groups in July, 2000. A list of the first names of the patients in the prayer group was given to a person (details not specified) who said a short prayer (details again not specified) for the wellbeing and full recovery of the group as a whole. This prayer was said about 4-10 years or longer after the index admission. There was no sham intervention. Thus, this study sought to determine whether prayer has a retrospective healing effect.

The patients in the prayer and control groups were similar on important sociodemographic and clinical variables. Whereas the mortality rate did not differ significantly between the prayer and the control groups (28.1 vs. 30.2%, respectively), the length of stay in the hospital and the duration of fever were both significantly shorter in the prayer group than in the control group (P = 0.01 and 0.04, respectively).

Some points about this study are worth noting. The differences between groups, although significantly favoring patients for whom prayer was offered, were very small; the medians of the two groups differed by a small margin. Thus, the significance of the findings depended heavily upon the outliers who skewed the sample.
Next, no attempt was made to compare for unusual biases, such as day of admission and discharge. It is conceivable, for example, that patients admitted toward the end of the week may have been investigated and treated more slowly and those due for discharge toward the end of the week may have been retained until the start of the next week.

Importantly, considering the number of patients in each group, there must surely have been much overlap in first names. Did Leibovici consider the possibility that the prayers, then, could benefit patients in both groups to the extent of overlap?

Finally, in a lighter vein, would the findings have changed had the author, in the best spirits of ethical research, offered the experimental intervention (prayer) for the control group at the conclusion of the study?

In the broadest sense, prayer describes thoughts, words or deeds that address or petition a divine entity or force.
By invoking prayer, researchers invite troublesome questions about the importance of several theosophical matters:

The quantitative aspects of prayer influence outcomes.
Quantity refers to the number of prayers, the frequency of the prayers and the duration of the prayers.
Importantly, considering the number of patients in each group, mostly got improve their health through praying.


Other forms of prayer among Catholic's would be meditative prayer, contemplative prayer and infused prayer discussed at length by Catholic Saint's St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Jesus.
Friedrich Heiler (was a German theologian and historian of religion. Heiler came from a Roman Catholic family) is often cited in Christian circles for his systematic Typology of Prayer which lists six types of prayer: primitive, ritual, Greek cultural, philosophical, mystical, prophetic and hesychasm.


There are many types of prayers and prayers that correspond to different religions and different practices, but there is a very special and effective, and this is the meditative prayer.

Meditative prayer is a mental exercise in which we seek the direction of thought, is healthy and beneficial for anyone because it causes an opening in the mind to the mysteries of life to a higher intelligence that makes us leave our perspective narrow, self-centered and routinary, and then helps us to discover the truth and do the right things.
Meditative Prayer brings a lot of peace, try to memorize them, practice them, repeat them often, do not expect the ideal time, you can repeat in the silent of your house, while waiting for the bus, while you eat your lunch, to wake up or at bedtime. Take them in your heart and in your mind.

Meditate about:
That may I be at peace with myself.
That may I feel full of happiness.
That can I be relaxed and well.
That may I feel love.
That may I do all the possible good to the others.
God loves me and want that I be happy.
Life is good and I have to be happy. I want to be happy.
God offer me all to be happy.
God gives me the possibility to be happy in this world.


It is important to first define “contemplative prayer.” Contemplative prayer is not just “contemplating while you pray.” The Bible instructs us to pray with our minds (1 Corinthians 14:15), so, clearly, prayer does involve contemplation. However, praying with your mind is not what “contemplative prayer” has come to mean. Contemplative prayer has slowly increased in practice and popularity along with the rise of the emerging church movement—a movement which embraces many unscriptural ideas and practices. Contemplative prayer is one such practice.

Contemplative prayer begins with “centering prayer,” a meditative practice where the practitioner focuses on a word and repeats that word over and over for the duration of the exercise. The purpose is to clear one’s mind of outside concerns so that God’s voice may be more easily heard. After the centering prayer, the practitioner is to sit still, listen for direct guidance from God, and feel His presence.

Although this might sound like an innocent exercise, this type of prayer has no scriptural support whatsoever. In fact, it is just the opposite of how prayer is defined in the Bible. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6).

“In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:23-24).
These verses and others clearly portray prayer as being comprehendible communication with God, not an esoteric, mystical meditation.

Contemplative prayer, by design, focuses on having a mystical experience with God. Mysticism, however, is purely subjective, and does not rely upon truth or fact. Yet the Word of God has been given to us for the very purpose of basing our faith, and our lives, on Truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What we know about God is based on fact; trusting in experiential knowledge over the biblical record takes a person outside of the standard that is the Bible.

Be warning not to use the contemplative prayer as the modern prayer movement does. Of this form prayer is no different than the meditative exercises used in Eastern religions and New Age cults. Its most vocal supporters embrace an open spirituality among adherents from all religions, promoting the idea that salvation is gained by many paths, they ignore that Christ Himself stated that salvation comes only through Him (John 14:6). Contemplative prayer, as practiced in the modern prayer movement, is in opposition to biblical Christianity and should definitely be avoided.


Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the heart. The Catechism calls it a gaze. It is the prayer of being in love. It does not use a text and may use a word or a phrase as a way of entering into the prayer of silence and faith. It is the prayer of the listening heart. The goal of contemplative prayer is to enter into the presence of God where there are no words, concepts or images.


Meditation is a prayer of the mind, whereas contemplation is a prayer of the heart. When we meditate we consider certain eternal truths and apply them to our daily lives. For example, a very popular meditation is the Passion of Our Lord. In the discursive/affective Ignatian method of meditation, the meditation can lead us to profound sentiments of love for God. Thus meditation can launch us into a prayer of the heart and even be a launching pad into contemplation. Excellent books for daily meditation are My Daily Bread and The Imitation of Christ. An excellent Internet source for daily meditation is Sacred Space.


Lectio divina is a very old form of mental prayer. It is similar to the Ignatian discursive/affective method. However, with lectio divina, the person always takes up a text such as a passage from the Bible. The text is read slowly and then the person thinks about it and the practical applications for daily living.


A personal decision must be made to live out a serious spiritual life. A serious spiritual life is something personal which requires discipline, order and consistency. A daily prayer life can be as follows:
Morning Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours or from the Magnificat);
Mental Prayer (Meditation, Lectio Divina or Contemplation); Mass; Rosary;
Night Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours or from the Magnificat);
monthly confession (or whenever necessary); annual retreat.

The daily habit of Mental Prayer through meditation and/or lectio divina should provide the necessary interior discipline to enter into daily contemplative prayer. Discipline is needed for silence and solitude. The help of a good confessor and/or a qualified spiritual director is a great gift from God for anyone who is serious about personal holiness.


20 – 30 minutes every morning is good. Maybe you will be in a situation where this period of contemplative prayer could be repeated again in the afternoon or at night. Perhaps your schedule and duties will permit you to extend your contemplative prayer time to an hour on the weekends and vacation time.


The works of Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross are the classic sources on prayer and the ascetical life.
However, these works are not easy to understand. Sooner or later they should be read. I highly recommend the following works. There are books to be extremely insightful and helpful.

The Spiritual Journey – Fr. Francis Kelly Nemeck
Contemplation – Fr. Francis Kelly Nemeck
Intimacy with God – Fr. Thomas Keating
Being in Love – Fr. William Johnston
Centering Prayer and the Healing of the Unconscious - Murchadh O’ Madagáin


There are a lot of spiritual benefits of daily contemplative prayer to be detachment, trust in God, peace, compassion, fortitude and chastity. Daily contemplative prayer also reduces stress and has long-lasting benefits for our physical and emotional health.


There are many postures for prayer. Some people like to kneel, others like to sit, still others like to lie prostrate on the ground or even sit in the lotus position. Posture is a personal decision. Use whatever posture helps you to pray. Personally, I find sitting in my easy chair a great way to pray each morning.


This is a very good question. The bottom line is this: I have come to the conclusion that there is no set way to do contemplative prayer. Your contemplative prayer time is going to be a personal journey guided by the Holy Spirit. However, here are some suggestions that may help you before you read the books that I have mentioned.


- sit or kneel. Gaze into the Tabernacle or look into the Monstrance. Be still. Focus on your breathing.
Ask Mary to help you to prayer. Pray to the Holy Spirit. Then peacefully repeat a word or a phrase:
Jesus; Jesus I love you;
Jesus I trust in You; Father;
Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit, etc.
Jesus, Mary I love Thee, save souls.

Don’t continue to repeat the word or the words over and over again. Only use the word or the phrase when your mind begins to wander. Focus your gaze on the Eucharist. Be open to whatever Jesus is asking of you.


- sit or kneel. Close your eyes. Again, be still and focus on your breathing. Ask Mary to help you to pray. Pray to the Holy Spirit. As before, repeat a word or a phrase. Do not repeat the word or words over and over again.
Remember to use the word only when your mind begins to wander. Focus your gaze on the loving presence of God within you. If you begin to feel embraced by God, be still and be silent. Just allow the Holy Spirit to pray within you.

Aside from the daily experience of contemplative prayer,


Level 1 – Morning Prayer (from the Magnificat magazine or from the Liturgy of the Hours); 20 – 30 minutes of meditation (use the Bible, My Daily Bread or the Imitation of Christ); Rosary; Night Prayer and Examination of Conscience; monthly confession or whenever necessary.

Level 2 – Morning Prayer; 20 – 30 minutes of meditation or contemplative prayer; Mass; Rosary; Night Prayer and Examination of Conscience; monthly confession or whenever necessary.

Level 3 – Morning Prayer; 30 – 60 minutes of meditation or contemplative prayer; Mass; Rosary; Night Prayer; monthly confession or whenever necessary.

Getting back to contemplative prayer, what does the experience of contemplative prayer look like if we could put that experience into words? Here is an excellent description from Fr. Ignacio Larranaga:
Create interior emptiness, suspending the activity of the senses and emotions, putting out the memories of the past, untying yourself from worries about the future, isolating yourself or distancing yourself from the commotion outside of you and outside of this moment. Do not think of anything; better yet, think nothing.

Remove yourself more and more from the senses, beyond all movement, beyond action, without “looking” at anything outside or inside yourself, not holding on to anything, without letting anything hold you, without focusing on anything…
Nothing outside of you, nothing outside of this moment. Complete presence to yourself “to” yourself, a pure and naked attention.
Once you have gained this silence, placing yourself upon the platform of faith, open yourself to the Presence. Simply remain open, attentive to the Other, like someone staring without thinking, like someone loving and feeling loved.

In this moment in which you have placed yourself in the orbit of faith, you should avoid forming an image of God. Every image, every representation of God must vanish. “Silence” God, stripping Him of everything that signifies location. He is not near or far, above or below, before or after. He is Being. He is Presence, Pure and Loving and Enveloping and Penetrating and Omnipresent. He is.

Forgot that you exist. Never look at yourself. Contemplation is fundamentally ecstasis or going out. Do not worry about whether “this” is God. Do not disturb yourself with whether this is natural or comes from grace.
Do not try to understand or analyze what you are living. There only exists a Thou for who you are, in this moment, an open, loving and calm attention. Do not say anything with your lips. Do not say anything with your mind.
Look, and you are “looked at”. Love and you are loved. Pure Presence, in pure silence and pure faith, will fulfill the eternal covenant.

It is nothing. It is Everything.
You are the receptacle. God is the content. Let yourself be filled. You are the beach. He is the sea. Let yourself be flooded. You are the land. The Presence is the Sun. Let yourself come to life. Remain like this for a long time.
Then “return” to life, full of God.

What would be a good final thought for this discussion on contemplative prayer?

“Properly understood, contemplation shakes the universe, toples the powers of evil, builds a great society, and opens the doors that lead to eternal life”. – Fr. William Johnston, S.J.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document on prayer


Infused prayer or higher contemplation, also called intuitive, passive or extraordinary, is a supernatural gift by which a person's mind and will become totally centered on God. It is a form of mystical union with God, a union characterized by the fact that it is God, and God only, who manifests himself. Under this influence of God, which assumes the free cooperation of the human will, the intellect receives special insights into things of the spirit, and the affections are extraordinarily animated with divine love.
This union that it entails may be linked with manifestations of a created object, as, for example, visions of the humanity of Christ or an angel or revelations of a future event, etc. They include miraculous bodily phenomena sometimes observed in ecstatics.

Infused contemplation, described as a "divinely originated, general, non-conceptual, loving awareness of God", is, according to Fr. Thomas Dubay, the normal, ordinary development of discursive prayer, which it gradually replaces. He writes:
It is a wordless awareness and love that we of ourselves cannot initiate or prolong. The beginnings of this contemplation are brief and frequently interrupted by distractions. The reality is not so impressive that one who lacks instruction can fail to appreciate what exactly is taking place. Initial infused prayer is so ordinary and unspectacular in the early stages that many fail to recognize it for what it is. Yet with pious people, that is, with those who try to live the whole Gospel wholeheartedly and who engage in an earnest prayer life, it is very common.

Fr. Dubay considers infused contemplation as common only among "those who try to live the whole Gospel wholeheartedly and who engage in an earnest prayer life". Other writers view contemplative prayer in its infused supernatural form as far from common. John Baptist Scaramelli, reacting in the 17th century against quietism, taught that asceticism and mysticism are two distinct paths to perfection, the former being the normal, ordinary end of the Christian life, and the latter something extraordinary and very rare. Jordan Aumann considered that this idea of the two paths was "an innovation in spiritual theology and a departure from the traditional Catholic teaching". And Jacques Maritain proposed that one should not say that every mystic necessarily enjoys habitual infused contemplation in the mystical state, since the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not limited to intellectual operations.


Saint Teresa of Avila described four degrees or stages of mystical union:

1 - incomplete mystical union, or the prayer of quiet or supernatural recollection, when the action of God is not strong enough to prevent distractions, and the imagination still retains a certain liberty;

2 - full or semi-ecstatic union, when the strength of the divine action keeps the person fully occupied but the senses continue to act, so that by making an effort, the person can cease from prayer;

3 - ecstatic union, or ecstasy, when communications with the external world are severed or nearly so, and one can no longer at will move from that state; and

4 - transforming or deifying union, or spiritual marriage (properly) of the soul with God.

The first three are weak, medium, and the energetic states of the same grace. The transforming union differs from them specifically and not merely in intensity. It consists in the habitual consciousness of a mysterious grace which all shall possess in heaven: the anticipation of the Divine nature.
The soul is conscious of the Divine assistance in its superior supernatural operations, those of the intellect and the will. Spiritual marriage differs from spiritual espousals inasmuch as the first of these states is permanent and the second only transitory.

In all forms of mystical union God is not merely conceived with the mind but perceived through an experimental knowledge of God and his presence, a knowledge inferior, however, to the way in which God will be manifested to those in heaven. Generally, it can be spoken of as seeing God only when the mystical union reaches the degree of ecstasy. What is common to all degrees is that the presence of God is manifested in the way of an interior something with which the soul is penetrated; a sensation of absorption, of fusion, of immersion.

It has been compared with the way that we feel the presence of our body when we remain perfectly immobile and close our eyes. If we know that our body is present, it is not because we see it or have been told of the fact. It is the result of a special sensation, an interior impression, very simple and yet impossible to analyse. Thus it is that in mystical union we feel God within us and in a very simple way.
The soul absorbed in mystical union that is not too elevated may be said to resemble a man placed near one of his friends in an impenetrably dark place and in utter silence He neither sees nor hears his friend whose hand he holds within his own, but through means of touch, he feels his presence. He thus remains thinking of his friend and loving him, although amid distractions.


In Christian mysticism, contemplative prayer or contemplation, for which the Greek term theoria (θεωρία) is also used, is a form of prayer distinct from vocal prayer (recitation of words) and from meditation in the strict sense (a form of mental prayer, also called methodical prayer, based on discursive reflection on various considerations)

The Christian Contemplative prayer is discipleship with Jesus. Hans Urs von Balthasar* explains that it does not arise out of a psychological strength but out of the strength to respond to love: The word contemplative can, of course, be misunderstood in a gnostic sense (as giving us special or esoteric knowledge) but it really means the life which Jesus praised, the life of Mary at his feet. Prayer, ecclesiastical and personal, comes before action. It is not primarily a source of psychological strength, an opportunity for 'refueling' as it were. It is an act in perfect harmony with love, an act of worship and glorification in which the person loved attempts to make a complete and selfless answer, in order to show that he has understood the divine message.was a Swiss theologian and priest (incardinated into Roman Catholic Diocese of Chur) who was to be created a cardinal of the Catholic Church but died before the ceremony. He is considered one of the most important theologians of the 20th century.

In Eastern Christianity contemplation (theoria) literally means to see God or to have the Vision of God. The state of beholding God, or union with God, is known as theoria. The process of theosis which leads to that state of union with God known as theoria is practiced in the ascetic tradition of Hesychasm. Hesychasm is to reconcile the heart and the mind into one thing.
Contemplation in Eastern Orthodoxy is expressed in degrees as those covered in St John Climacus' Ladder of Divine Ascent. The process of changing from the old man of sin into the newborn child of God and into our true nature as good and divine is called theosis.

This is to say that once someone is in the presence of God, deified with him, then they can begin to properly understand, and there "contemplate" God. This form of contemplation is to have and pass through an actual experience rather than a rational or reasoned understanding of theory (see Gnosis). Whereas with rational thought one uses logic to understand, one does the opposite with God.
Within Western Christianity contemplation is often related to mysticism as expressed in the works of mystical theologians such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross as well as the writings of Margery Kempe, Augustine Baker and Thomas Merton.

*Hans Urs von Balthasar (12 August 1905 – 26 June 1988), was a Swiss theologian and priest (incardinated into Roman Catholic Diocese of Chur) who was to be created a cardinal of the Catholic Church but died before the ceremony. He is considered one of the most important theologians of the 20th century.


Primitive Prayer are the most basic petitions to higher beings, according who is ask, derive from basic needs and the fears to the unknown. The basics of these prayers focus on deliverance from misfortune and danger. This type of prayer can be found in all facets of life, from primitive cultures to superstitious industrialized countries. When such prayers seem to be heard, and even answered, the culture is likely to progress into ritualistic prayer.

Late second-century Christianity, a period during which martyrdom was a distinctive form of Christian testimony, offers a dramatic display of what prayer can do, and a sign also of what it can do. Reading, for instance, the story of “The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity,” one is struck by the resolve and quiet confidence with which martyrs faced their death.

“The day of their victory shone forth. Happily they processed out of the prison into the amphitheatre as if into heaven, with a joyous countenance, trembling with joy, not fear. Perpetua, a matron of Christ, beloved of God, was following with a shining face and peaceful gait, with the strength of her eyes casting down the gaze of all. Moreover, Felicity rejoiced that she had safely given birth so that she might fight the beasts” (Chapter I, 1;)

This important treatise ends with superlative praise. “O most brave and blessed martyrs. O truly called and elected into the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! Those who magnify and honor and adore you ought to read these examples no less than the ancient stories for the edification of the Church” (Chapter VI, 4).
What precisely constitutes edification in these tales? No doubt the stories work to instruct and encourage Christians in a life of trial, testing, and danger. There is no thought of escaping the cross. Tribulation is presumed.
Martyrdom is the defining mark of discipleship. Victory is in death.

What then is the point of prayer? “Now,” he says, “the prayer of the just turns aside all the anger of God, keeps vigil for enemies, prays for persecutors.”

Strikingly, prayer may invoke what is good and destroy what is bad.
“Christ wants [prayer] to work no evil and assigns all power to it from the good.”

At this point, Tertullian describes prayer fit to the new dispensation:
prayer can everything; to recall the souls of the departed from the journey of death,
to reform to the weak,
to remedy the sick,
to cast out demons,
to open the doors of prison of the sin,
to break the chains of the evil.

The same prayer drowns sins:
repels temptations,
extinguishes persecutions,
consoles the fainthearted,
strengthens the strong,
leads to Heaven,
mitigates waves of temptations,
confounds thieves,
nourishes the poor,
rules the rich,
raises the lapsed,
lifts the fallen,
sustains the weak.

Finally, in one of the most exquisite passages of ancient Christian literature, Tertullian describes evidence of this prayer “from the good” in the natural order, in the world which itself groans for salvation.
“All the angels in fact pray.”
To this heavenly chorus he adds every creature: cattle, wild beasts, and the birds of the air; for “every creature prays. The cattle and wild beasts pray. They bend the knee and go forth from their stables and caves looking to heaven with a peaceful countenance, breathing as if praying in their own way. Even the rising birds are directed to heaven and expand a cross of wings instead of hands, saying something that seems to be a prayer.”


The Catechism of the 1979 BCP says only that we “bring before God the need of others or our own need” (p. 857). It remains circumspect about the capacity of prayer to deliver from trial of God.
While the New Testament offers many examples of healing and deliverance, their interpretation must be set alongside the obvious truth that trials, tribulations, and suffering of every kind are woven into the fabric of mortal existence. Deliverance from suffering and evil must be something akin to deliverance in the midst of evil, a procession into the amphitheatre as if into heaven.

There is hope in such an austere view of prayer. We are not summoned to escape the trial of life only to be cast down first by the sorrow that comes and then by a feeling that faith has failed. Rather, prayer, though not a deliverance from fire and pain, serves as a conduit of good, proceeding from eternal goodness and pouring out a river of graces to the world.
Hands stretched out like wings make the sign of the cross, directing the prayer of the spirit to heaven. In this way prayer is a present help: mysterious communion with God in a materialist brutal´s world.
The Rev. Patrick T. Twomey is rector of All Saints Church, Appleton, Wisconsin. Corrected text.


The ritual Prayer While primitive prayer may come from the heart, once it is recognized for producing results, efforts are made to replicate the effects. Ritualistic prayer derives from such pragmatism in which superstition leads to formulas and litany. In this case, the form, instead of the content, is thought to produce the results. Many Christians fall into this superstition by ending all prayers, “in Jesus’ name”, when Christ himself ended his lesson in prayer with no such formula, instead saying, “for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, amen.” (Matthew 16:13) The next progression is recognition of the importance of content over method.


2726. "In the battle of prayer, we must face in ourselves and around us erroneous notions of prayer. Some people view prayer as a simple psychological activity, others as an effort of concentration to reach a mental void. Still others reduce prayer to ritual words and postures. Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they 'don't have the time.' Those who seek God by prayer are quickly discouraged because they do not know that prayer comes also from the Holy Spirit and not from themselves alone."

2776. "The Lord's Prayer is the quintessential prayer of the Church. It is an integral part of the major hours of the Divine Office and of the sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Integrated into the Eucharist it reveals the eschatological character of its petitions, hoping for the Lord, 'until he comes' (1 Cor 11:26)."

Where there are two or more people praying for the same thing, "it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven." Doesn't this explain the concept of ritual prayer in the Catholic Church? Yes, there is a danger of "just saying the words" without meaning them. But this is a problem with the individual Christian, not a problem with the concept of ritual prayer. If God didn't want us to pray the same prayer more than once, why did He give us the Lord's Prayer (the "Our Father")? Christ Himself repeated the exact same words in prayer (Matthew 26:44). The angels in heaven also repeat the same prayers in praise of God the Father (Revelations 4:8 ).

"And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.'" - Revelations 4:8


In the Greek culture, more emphasis is placed on moral needs than physical needs. In other words, this refined primitive prayer sought intercession from gods for cultural needs instead of individual needs.
This type of prayer was often the duty of the philosophical elite.


Philosophical Prayer The progression from cultural prayer by the philosophical elite leads into contemplative examination of the relationship between creation and creator. At this point, the person praying recognizes that naïve and realistic prayers may not affect the divine order of the universe.

At this level is where the question first is introduced, “Why pray?”.
Any communicative prayer is no longer for petition, as it seems the immutability of God precludes his intercession, and prayers turn only to thanksgiving. Up until this level, these five types of prayer seek what man can receive from prayer, from the most basic of necessities to transcendent knowledge, but according to Heiler there are two forms of higher prayer which seek an audience with God; Mystical and Prophetic prayer.


Mystical Prayer At this level of prayer, the person praying recognizes that God is outside of them, but capable and perhaps willing to indwell and unite with them through conversation and transformation. While not biblical, Mystical prayer does contain similarities, such as petition, revelation, and elevation of the one praying.
The major difference between Mystical and Prophetic prayer is the motive of the one praying. Mysticism seeks an illumination rather than intervention, and sees this illumination as being revealed in stages.


That person to whom I referred just now said that the favor which God had granted her had taught her two things: first, she learned to have the greatest fear of offending Him, for which reason she continually begged Him not to allow her to fall, when she saw what legible consequences a fall could bring; secondly, she had found it a mirror of humility, for it had made her realize that any good thing we do has its source, not in ourselves but rather in that spring where this tree, which is the soul, is planted, and in that sun which sheds its radiance on our works.

We continue to hear what a good thing prayer is . . . yet they tell us nothing beyond what we ourselves have to do and say very little about the work done by the Lord in the soul — I mean supernatural work.(Teresa of Avila: First Mansions, Chapter Two)

Teresa and her Carmelite companions continued to hear what a good thing prayer is, but most teaching on prayer, she says, is about what we can do (ascetic prayer) with very little teaching about God’s supernatural work in our souls (mystical prayer).

Teresa says God granted her a divine favor and taught her two things. She learned to have a great fear in offending Him. This was a divine favor because God let her foresee the consequences if she went off track spiritually and begged Him not to let her fall. This prescience came through mystical prayer. She also learned humility. Humility is a divine favor because we learn God’s power works in us and through us (we are a tree of life but God is the life-giving spring and the sun shining on our works).
When we take credit or responsibility for results we impose limitations on our life and works. Teresa says, without humility “everything goes wrong.

There are a couple parts to our Christian experience. There is Christian character and ethics resulting in good works and valuable contributions to society. There is also revelation. Through mystical prayer God gives guidance and insight beyond the physical realm and beyond our powers of observation, calculation, and learning.

Some are afraid of Christian mysticism. They’ve heard of abuse by individuals and faith communities who have “heard God” followed by twisted, absurd, or tragic behavior. But God speaks and people have listened, authenticated his words through spiritual guides, and gained insight not available from human sources. By listening they have altered the course of history.


Prophetic Prayer The highest form of prayer, according to Heiler, is that of the biblical model. In this model, there are no stages, as the ability to speak directly to God without formula or meditation began when the veil was rent on the day Christ was crucified. The prophetic prayer allows all four types of biblical prayer from any believer at any time. No limitations are placed on method, location, or liturgical ranking.

Prophetic prayer may sound like a highfalutin’ far out kind of prayer but it really isn’t. It’s simpler --- and more common than some might think. Even those who do not believe the gift of prophecy is for today might pray prophetically without realizing it. Its best claim to fame is that the one who prays is God’s mouthpiece, which makes for extremely effective prayer aimed straight on the mark.

It was an angel in the book of Revelation that gave us our best definition of prophecy when he warned John not to worship him. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10) Therefore the essence of any genuine prophecy honors Jesus for who he is and matches his character and his purpose. That makes sense because prophecy in the Greek means to bring forth, to foretell or to tell forth. What is being spoken forth is God’s heart in a matter. You can’t get any better than that!


To prophesy means to hear from God, and then to speak or act on God’s behalf. When we pray prophetically, we lay down our own imaginations, desires and burdens and depend on Him to show us what is on His agenda. He reveals to us what He would have us to pray. In order to pray this way we must posture ourselves to hear from Him. Prophetic prayer is one of the session structures that can be used powerfully in the House of Prayer. The practice of Prophetic Prayer is foundational to Strategic Intercession. This is a beautiful practice to bring into your own prayer time, but it becomes an amazing and dynamic source of direction and revelation when practiced in a group.

Foundations for Prophetic Prayer

1 - Jesus taught that all God’s people can hear his voice. John 10:2-5

2 - but he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

3 - to him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.

4 - and when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

5 - And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

We are urged in scripture to pursue spiritual gifts, especially the prophetic.
1 Corinthians 14:1

”Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”

When we pray prophetically we will learn and be exhorted.
1 Corinthians 14:31

“For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted.”

A Prayer to Begin

Lord, in Jesus’ name I believe that I am a child of God and that I have the ability to hear your voice. I earnestly desire to prophesy and believe that I am able in Christ to do all things. I ask in bold faith for accuracy and ease in receiving and releasing your word and prophetic insights in intercession. Thank you Lord.

Some Of The Ways The Holy Spirit Speaks To Us:

1. Through Scriptures and Songs

2. In a Still, Small Voice

3. Through Impressions in the Mind, simple thoughts

4. In Visions and Dreams

5. By Words and Symbols


In discursive meditation, mind and imagination and other faculties are actively employed in an effort to understand our relationship with God. In contemplative prayer, this activity is curtailed, so that contemplation has been described as "a gaze of faith", "a silent love".
John of the Cross described the difference between discursive meditation and contemplation by saying: "The difference between these two conditions of the soul is like the difference between working, and enjoyment of the fruit of our work; between receiving a gift, and profiting by it; between the toil of travelling and the rest of our journey's end".

An Oriental Orthodox expert on prayer says: "Meditation is an activity of one's spirit by reading or otherwise, while contemplation is a spontaneous activity of that spirit. In meditation, man's imaginative and thinking power exert some effort. Contemplation then follows to relieve man of all effort. Contemplation is the soul's inward vision and the heart's simple repose in God."
There is no clear-cut boundary between Christian meditation and Christian contemplation, and they sometimes overlap. Meditation serves as a foundation on which the contemplative life stands, the practice by which someone begins the state of contemplation.
A distinction is made between acquired or natural contemplation and infused or supernatural contemplation.


Natural or acquired contemplation, which is also called prayer of the heart, has been compared to the attitude of a mother watching over the cradle of her child: she thinks lovingly of the child without reflection and amid interruptions.
In the words of Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, acquired contemplation "consists in seeing at a simple glance the truths which could previously be discovered only through prolonged discourse": reasoning is largely replaced by intuition and affections and resolutions, though not absent, are only slightly varied and expressed in a few words.

Especially in its higher form, known as the prayer of simplicity or of simple gaze, there is one dominant thought or sentiment which recurs constantly and easily (although with little or no development) amid many other thoughts, beneficial or otherwise.
The prayer of simplicity often has a tendency to simplify itself even in respect to its object, leading one to think chiefly of God and of his presence, but in a confused manner.
Definitions similar to that of Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori are given by Adolphe Tanquerey ("a simple gaze on God and divine things proceeding from love and tending thereto") and Saint Francis de Sales ("a loving, simple and permanent attentiveness of the mind to divine things").

"Over the centuries, this prayer has been called by various names such as the Prayer of Faith, Prayer of the Heart, Prayer of Simplicity, Prayer of Simple Regard, Active Recollection, Active Quiet and Acquired Contemplation"

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

"What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: 'Contemplative prayer [oración 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.' Contemplative prayer seeks him 'whom my soul loves'. 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."

A person is known to be called to natural contemplation because of succeeding in it with ease, and benefitting from it. This is especially so, if the person has a persistent attraction to this kind of prayer together with difficulty and distaste for discursive meditation. Accordingly, when, during prayer, one feels neither a relish nor facility for certain acts it is advisable not to force oneself to produce them, but to be content with affective prayer or the prayer of simplicity. If, on the contrary, during prayer, one feels the facility for certain acts, one should yield to this inclination instead of obstinately striving to remain immovable like the Quietists.

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