Finley says (p. 20): “Merton would tell us that techniques and spiritualities are proper and necessary in their own right, but we must not ask from them what we can only receive from God. Chanting OM with great enthusiasm for hours on end may well be an efficacious exercise in meditation. However, it may also be but a sign of a weird person. Or, worse yet, it may be a way of tricking ourselves into believing that some contrivance of our own making can of itself take us to God.
Merton would assure us that progress in prayer is always a gift. God is always beyond our cleverest plans. He is not to be flushed into the open by beating the bushes with well-wrought aphorisms. But in a simple abandonment to his will we find that, like our next breath, he is upon us, that he engulfs us and holds us fast.”
Looking back on your life, have you found “techniques and spiritualities” that started out well, but ended up becoming a barrier to God? Sometimes we consider ourselves “failures” because we can’t stick to a discipline, or get puffed up because we are doing “so well.” May we instead seek for “simple abandonment to his will.”
Contemplative Practice: The Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer is simple: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
You can use this prayer as part of a Breath Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God” as you breathe in, and “have mercy on me” as you breathe out.