When people learn that I rise about 3.30am, the first question they ask is “What do you do at that time in the morning?” In what I hope is a non sanctimonious voice, I usually reply “I read and pray”. I then hopefully await the question “What do you mean by prayer” and if it doesn’t come I usually volunteer the answer “Prayer for me is about awareness” and, if a glimmer of interest is shown, I further volunteer that prayer is of three kinds (vocal, meditative and contemplative) and my practice in the early hours of the morning is contemplative. If there is still a glimmer of interest, I relate the story of looking at one of Rembrandt’s masterpieces and reacting

(a) Vocally : “What a magnificent painting!”

(b) Meditatively: silently thinking about its significance.

(c) Contemplatively: silently and non rationally allowing the painting to impact  upon you.

The conversation with the enquirer usually comes to an end at this point and before I can give an illustration of contemplative prayer. If by chance I was asked for an example, today’s effort would probably suffice. Let me outline it to you.

I am currently using a book by Frederich Buechner entitled “Listening to your Life”. It is conveniently divided into daily portions and on the 19th May 2014 I wrote the following summary and personal comments


The God’s are dying! The Gods of our world are sick unto death! What Gods? The Gods we worship.

Science: The God that was to redeem the world from poverty – and gave us the nuclear bomb.

Communism: Magnificent in its promise of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” – and so bloody awful in practice.

Democracy: The gospel of freedom for all – and its exploitation by the powerful.

The God of the Traditional Church: The God who asks so little, promises so much and sanctifies our foreign policy, business methods, political views and racial prejudices.

Where is the life they promised?

The awful truth is that the Gods are not worthy of our ultimate trust

 Post Contemplation

I really would like to live my life again. I am not anxious about it and am content to make the final words of Jesus my final words. But, knowing what I now know, it would be great to be able to give it a second go!


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