Just as you and I get to know people by meeting, listening and speaking to them, so in meditation we get to know God by conversing with him in a quiet place. “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father in the secret place.” Matthew 6:6.
We listen to God speaking to us through the beauties of nature, Sacred Scripture, the texts of the Liturgy and the lives and writings of the saints. In meditation, we ponder what Jesus says to us in all of these ways and then we respond with our inner thoughts, applications and words. It is a mental conversation between two friends.
Meditative prayer involves using all of the faculties of our mind: readings, imagination, drawing conclusions, carrying forth conversations with God, even using logic as applied to the mysteries of God so as to penetrate and possess them. In so doing, we allow ourselves to be penetrated and possessed by God.
A key principle to mental prayer (meditation)
What matters in prayer is not what we do, but what God does to us and in us during these moments. It is our way of opening our hearts and minds to be in communion with the Living God. When we experience communion with the Living God, we are changed!
Tip: Meditation is often called mental prayer because it involves our imagination. Traditional devotions like the rosary and the Stations of the Cross are meditation because they engage our imagination, which places our mind with the Lord. Meditation also opens the faculties of the soul to be with him in spirit. This is called our interior self.
Examples of good resources for meditation
The Bible especially the Psalms and the Gospels; Magnificat; In Conversation with God by Father Francis Fernandez; Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Philippe (actually, all of his books are excellent!); Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen; The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva; Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis DeSales; Story of a Soul by St. Thérèse of Lisieux; Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul by Maria Faustina Kowalska, just to name a few.
Coming up next issue: The four Rs of mental prayer