Contemplation Is Worthy of Esteem, but Only as the Entourage of a Prince

The Holiness of the Here and Now – Part 67

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

–Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

It is proper, therefore, for us to love and esteem contemplation and other devotional exercises, as long as that love and esteem go all the way up to the infinitely good God, who earnestly desires to use these practices as a way of giving himself to our souls. In such cases, these practices are like the entourage of a prince. We receive a prince himself when we receive his entourage. We would offend him if we were to ignore his officers, making the excuse that we want to attend to him alone.

–Jean Pierre de Caussade

“Contemplation prejudice” is the preference for inactivity over activity, rooted in the misconception that inactivity is inherently more spiritual. Neglecting contemplative prayer will not solve this problem. Praying while you do other things is not a substitute for setting aside time exclusively for prayer. The answer is to appreciate prayer of all kinds, but to do so in the same way that you appreciate everything else: as a gift from God when God chooses to use it.

Spiritual exercises and experiences are good; meditation and contemplation are excellent forms of prayer; but even the best of things can distract us from God himself. We want to have the proper attitude toward such things. Jean Pierre de Caussade gives us helpful guidance in this: we should receive such gifts as the entourage of a prince. Honor them for the sake of the prince whom they accompany.

Prayer is vital to our spiritual progress. But we need a healthy attitude. Prayer can either intimidate us because we think we are not good at it or puff us up because we think we are. Either reaction is as sign that we are not seeing past the gift to the giver and his desire for fellowship with us.

The Holiness of the Here and Now is a daily devotional that I am currently working on. When I am finished, there will be 365 chapters like the one above. Meanwhile, I am sharing this work-in-progress. Like the Facebook page to see content like this in your feed.