God wants to give us much more than we sometimes imagine.

Contemplative prayer and the mystical life are mistakenly associated with various extraordinary manifestations.

God wants to give us much more than we imagine

When we come to Holy Mass, we are not the only ones who go to pray. In reality, we are just entering into a prayer that is already in progress.

The various forms of prayer described in the previous parts of the spiritual renewal had one common denominator: they assumed a considerable degree of initiative and activity on the part of man. From our human point of view, they may even appear as a pure manifestation of human effort.

From this, we could conclude that prayer is the Christian version of an exercise in virtue. But if it is true that prayer is primarily a relationship, namely a relationship with God, who infinitely transcends us, prayer cannot achieve its goals only based on some kind of human perfection and virtue.

Adopting the various forms of prayer that we talked about last time can give the impression that a Christian has already reached his peak. However, the holy teachers of the spiritual life will say without hesitation: that they are only beginners.


“Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John with him and led them to a high mountain in solitude. There he was transfigured in front of them” (Mt 17, 1-2). All three Synoptic describe an event on Mount Tabor where the chosen disciples could see something of who Jesus is.

This event was quite extraordinary and unexpected. Peter tried to respond, but as Luke testifies, he didn’t even know what he was saying (Luke 9:33). The task of the disciples was not to talk, but to see. Even Jesus himself forbade them to talk about this vision “until the Son of Man rises from the dead” (Mk 9:9).

As spiritual growth progresses, a significant change occurs in the area of ​​prayer: God himself takes the initiative, and the soul is increasingly placed in his hands and allowed to be guided. This surrender is not passivity — it often even makes greater demands on man than before — but spiritual life is no longer directed by man, but by God in the full sense of the word.

At this stage of spiritual life, the need for silence and solitude is felt more. Prayer acquires a contemplative character – it is our task – as disciples on Mount Tábor – to allow ourselves to be led to the mountain, leave the words behind, and look at Jesus.


Again, it may seem to some that these things are only for the chosen ones. After all, Jesus also called only three to the mountain. But now that he has risen from the dead, it is impossible to keep silent about these things, and since he has sent the Holy Spirit, no one lacks a higher calling.

This is what the Second Vatican Council teaches: “All believers in Christ, of whatever status and position, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and perfection in love” (LG 40). And Saint John Paul II. warns us: “It would be a mistake to think that ordinary believers can be satisfied with superficial prayer” (Novo millenio ineunte, 34).

Sometimes contemplative prayer and the mystical life are mistakenly associated with various extraordinary manifestations, such as ecstasies, visions, strong spiritual experiences, and the like. Whoever strives for these things will not reach the top of the mountain. Saint John of the Cross warns that whoever dares to ask God for a vision would be insulting him, and his eloquent words are also quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (cf. CCC 65).

The Holy Apostle John, who witnessed the transfiguration personally, does not even describe the event itself in his Gospel but says the essential at the very beginning: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the only-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1, 14). The goal of contemplation is not experiences, but resting in God.


In contemplation we find the answer to the question posed in the previous reflection: does God answer prayer? He answers not only in creation, the Scriptures, other people, and events, but he also answers directly, in the depths of man, in his heart, where he has his throne.

God answers prayer not only in creation, the Scriptures, other people, and events, but He also answers directly, in the depths of man, in his heart, where he has his throne.

A contemplative person is aware of God’s voice within himself — a voice that cannot be heard by the senses, and he recognizes from his own experience that God has been speaking to him all the time, even in the past, only until now he was not able to perceive his voice.

At this point, we do not have the space to delve into the question of contemplative prayer and mystical life in more detail. However, we can look to the works of authors whom God has specially called to be teachers of the advanced. In particular, we are thinking here of the three Carmelite teachers of the Church, whose works are translated and available to us as well.

There are also many useful works by contemporary authors who offer not only theological analysis but also practical advice to help those who want to grow spiritually but lack concrete guidance. Among all of them, we can mention the well-known method of “prayer of consent”, which appears to be very helpful in certain periods of the spiritual journey in the perspective of higher levels of spiritual life.


We have focused this series of reflections on prayer primarily on personal prayer. However, one form of prayer cannot be neglected, which is of particular importance and which “is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed, and at the same time the source from which all her power flows” (SC 10). It is a liturgical prayer.

Liturgy is the prayer of Jesus Christ and his entire body – the Church. It is a common prayer, but far surpassing the simple prayer of a group of believers. In liturgical prayer, together with our Lord, we experience the events of salvation, we connect our common earthly journey with the redemptive work of Christ, and even now our future in the heavenly homeland is shown to us, where we will praise God forever.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, after his passion and resurrection, ascended to heaven to complete the Easter mystery there. The historical events that took place in the Holy Land two millennia ago found their completion before God’s face, on the heavenly altar, above the sphere of our world limited by space and time. The liturgy connects us with Christ the High Priest, with his sacrifice made once and for all (cf. Hebrews 7:26-27), and with the community of all saints and the entire Church.


When we come to Holy Mass or the prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, it is not ourselves who go to pray, but we only enter into a prayer that is already in progress, into a mystery that always transcends us, so that we can add our voice to that prayer and draw from the power and the Spirit that works in it.

Therefore, liturgical prayer also sometimes makes special demands and requires obedience to the regulations that are necessary for this common prayer and express our connection with the Church and submission to the authority of Christ, who prays as our High Priest.

One of the difficulties with liturgical prayer is that it does not always have to be in harmony with what a person is currently experiencing. Someone comes to the temple with the joy of a newborn child, and in the liturgy, the Passion of Christ is celebrated; or he wants to find consolation after the loss of a neighbor in the vespers prayer, which just presents him with exultant psalms.

This difficulty arises simply from the fact that the liturgy cannot, with our means, here on earth, express all intentions and needs. If we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, it also requires a certain degree of adaptation from us – and we can say: sacrifices.

On the other hand, this very experience should also tell us that we are not alone either. In the liturgy, we meet (although not always visibly) those who are going through similar situations and pray for us and with us.

Related to this is the topic of distraction, which many struggle with not only during liturgical prayer. Distractedness is a common experience that arises mostly from the natural endowments of our mind and that does not leave the Christian at any stage of spiritual life. If someone is hindered by distraction, it is a sign that he wants to pray well, and often this goodwill is enough to make the prayer effective.

This is especially true for the liturgy, which is too comprehensive a prayer for everyone to be fully focused at every moment. However, the effectiveness of liturgical prayer is not lost by my distraction as a personal prayer, because liturgical prayer is never just my prayer.

In four reflections on spiritual renewal, we have only outlined the subject of prayer in the hope that they will encourage readers to a deeper interest and determination to give prayer its rightful place.

Questions to think about

Do I sincerely want to achieve holiness, or do I settle for mediocrity? Am I trying to draw from the works of the saints and their experience of prayer? Is the Holy Mass the most important prayer for me?

This entry was posted in Nezaradené. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *