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Prayer ("Techniques" and Discovery)

“…cultivating a contemplative practice, such as using a prayer word, the breath, sitting in stillness, is not to reduce prayer to a technique. Techniques imply a certain control and focus on a determined outcome. Contemplative practice is a skill, a discipline that facilitates a process that is out of one’s direct control, but it does not have the capacity to determine an outcome. “A gardener for example, does not actually grow plants. The gardener practices finely honed skills, such as cultivating soil, watering, feeding, weeding, pruning. But there is nothing the gardener can do to make the plants grow. However, if the gardener does not do what a gardener is supposed to do, the plants are not as likely to flourish. In fact they might not grow at all. In the same way a sailor exercises considerable skill in sailing a boat. But nothing the sailor does can produce the wind that moves the boat. Yet without the sailing skills that harness the wind, the boat will move aimlessly. Gardening and sailing involve skills of receptivity. The skills are necessary but by themselves insufficient. And so it is with contemplative practice and the spiritual life generally.” (Martin Laird)

“Praying and listening to the Holy Spirit are the most important things you can do. It is not technique or the loudness of our voices; it is the power of God working through us as we listen and follow the Spirit’s guidance.” (Francis MacNutt)

“In prayer we discover what we already have. You start from where you are and you deepen what you already have, and you realize you are already there. We already have everything but we don’t know it and don’t experience it. Everything has been given to us in Christ. All we need is to experience what we already possess.” (Thomas Merton)

“When we rediscover the active power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we see that God is not powerless, but simply waiting for us to receive what is already there.” (Francis MacNutt)

“All too often we discover that the real answer to our longings is right under our noses. Some of my life’s most surprising revelations have come when I awoke to what I already possessed.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

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