The inner cloister
by Nymph Kellerman
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Jesus taught that believing prayer would be answered – Mt 7:7, 18:19, Mk 11:23 and He linked prayer with forgiveness – Mt 6:12, Mk 11:25. The most extensive New Testament prayer, is John 17 when Jesus prayed for the glorification that came in the cross, for His disciples and for the Christian Church that would come into being. It is a prayer for unity with the world mission as primary goal.
Dr. Andrew Murray encouraged persevering prayer. He said: “Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need of persevering prayer is of the greatest”. He called the danger of thinking that something is after all not the will of God, a temptation and said: “if our prayer be according to God's Word and under the leading of the Spirit, let us not give way to these fears. Let us learn to give God time. God needs time with us”. Each believing prayer brings us closer to its fulfillment. “It fills up the measure of prayer and faith known to God alone; it conquers the hindrances in the unseen world; it hastens the end”.
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church refers to the two foundations on which Christian prayer rests, and from which it receives its specific character: “belief in the transcendent and personal nature of the God who is revealed in the Bible as Lord of History and Creator of the World, and the acceptance of the intimate relation of God and man disclosed by the atoning work of the Incarnate Christ”.
Prayer can be described as “calling upon the name of the Lord” and some Old Testament expressions, as pointed out in the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, would be to seek the favor of Yahweh, to bow in worship, to meet, to cry out, to supplicate or to appear before the face of the Lord. In the Old Testament, no clear-cut posture was required for the exercise of prayer. It was usually done standing - 1 Samuel 1:26 - and on occasion one might be kneeling - 1 Kings 8:54 - or with hands spread out - 1 Kings 8:22 - or with hands lifted up - Ps. 63:4. When combining prayer and meditation, it is required to sit in an upright chair with the spine straight, which is the handpicked posture for relaxing the muscles and for keeping them soft.
In a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church during October 1989, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which administers an intercession for the practice of meditation, states: “The seeking of God through prayer has to be preceded and accompanied by an ascetical struggle and a purification from one's own sins and errors, since Jesus has said that only 'the pure of heart shall see God' – Mt 5:8. The Gospel aims above all at a moral purification from the lack of truth and love and on a deeper level, from all the selfish instincts which impede man from recognizing and accepting the will of God in its purity”. Moral purification from the lack of truth and love is above all the ultimate aim of contemplative prayer. Meditation and contemplation is about experiencing the highest states of love towards God and towards fellowmen, which can only be acquired after many purgations of the soul. Only then, by conceptualizing God in His Incarnate Son, do we arrive at a perfect love of God and of neighbors.
In his meditations on the Lord's prayer, John Bradford, the constant martyr of God, defines prayer as “a simple, unfeigned, humble and ardent opening of the heart before God”.
St. John of the cross envisaged prayer as a path that we need to walk, with “no light except the one that burns in the heart” and Thomas Merton, expert on contemplative prayer, writes of his own experience with God:
“God, my God
I have prayed to You in the daytime
with thoughts and reasons,
and in the nighttime You have confronted
my scattering thought and reason.
I have come to You in the morning
with light and with desire,
and You have descended upon me,
with great gentleness, with most forbearing silence,
in this inexplicable night,
dispersing light, defeating all desire.
I have explained to You a hundred times
my motives for entering the monastery
and You have listened and said nothing,
and I have turned away and wept with shame”.
Christlike prayer happens to the individual. It happens when he is alone and in his own sacred place, the private cloister in the concealed depths of his spirit. It happens when he feverishly abandons the world to taste the fire in the abyss of his being. It happens when he focuses solely on the presence of the Absolute. It happens when he is called to face God alone in a night of blameless seclusion. It happens when he is called to lose all and to walk on the road to Damascus........
There is a vast difference between a person that contemplates and one that does not.......
Nymph completed her L.T.C.L. in music and drama, and obtained a B.A. Psychology and Philosophy a few years later. She trained as formal singer under various renowned vocal advisers and performed in numerous concerts, recitals, and oratorios. After a car accident that lead to a few neuro surgeries, she began investigating the benefits of deep relaxation and wrote a few books and numerous articles on the subject.
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