Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > AdventSurrenderOnPrayer


Advent Surrender: On Prayer

Dec 10, 2004

Saying For Today: We are part of a larger, dynamic, organic, and emergent Whole. This Whole, however we speak of it, is God.

All forms of Christian meditation and contemplative practice are intentional experiences in surrender. Therefore, such Prayer is Advent Practice, even as a mother surrenders to a process of naturally divine law, when she births an infant.

Possibly, one reason that most Christians resist meditation is that such Prayer entails willing relinquishment of even our personal and collective holy intents. In such abandonment, we yield our passions and capacities to the Wisdom and Purpose of Providential Grace. This relinquishment is not a denial of the good aspects of our human nature, rather, the surrender is that these natural capacities and passions will be enhanced, shaped, and directed to the maximum potential of their intended purposes. And, it is only through such abdication that the Christ Presence is born in and through us, individually and collectively.

Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon (French, Catholic, mystic, 1648-1717), whose teachings have been embraced by Protestants in Germany, Switzerland, and England, and Methodists in America, wrote of the “holy indifference” that is descriptive of the surrendering in Silent Prayer:

When the soul is docile, and leaves itself to be purified, and emptied of all that which it has of its own, opposite to the will of God, it finds itself by little and little, detached from every emotion of its own, and placed in a holy indifference, wishing nothing but what God does and wills. This never can be effected by the activity of our own will, even though it were employed in continual acts of resignation. These though very virtuous, are so far one's own actions and cause the will to subsist in a multiplicity, in a kind of separate distinction or dissimilitude from God (Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon. Autobiography of Madame Guyon).


Therefore, the essential, revolutionary attribute of contemplative practice is the intentional surrender of all felt need of the self to be virtuous and self-effort at pleasing God, for these efforts, even though good, nevertheless, are still deriving from the self. The self is still trying by itself to please God or live up to some external standard, even if the external standard is the perception of an external God, separate from the essential Self within and at one with God. In contemplative prayer, one, then, moves—or is moved--from trying to please a God outside oneself to being pleasing to the God who is omnipresent, residing equally in every aspect of creation, as well as within the Heart, as the Inner Sanctuary of Love. Therefore, it is difficult to see how self-righteousness can be avoided except in some form of such contemplative self-abdication, whether it is associated with the term "contemplative" or not.

Psalm 131.2 is a text often referred to in regard to the Quiet of Contemplative Prayer. I will quote the entire Psalm, for the entirety is pertinent to the subject of contemplation:

1O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
  my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
  too great and too marvelous for me.
2But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
  like a weaned child with its mother;
  like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3O Israel, hope in the LORD
  from this time forth and forevermore.


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