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Contemplatively Oriented Intercession

Article by Tilden Edwards (March 2018 eNews)

Through all our clarity and unclarity about particular actions in terms of call and their alignment with God’s Shalom, there is one particular practice that can thread its way through our time, and that is contemplatively oriented intercession.

If I suspend any sense of what “I” (my little ego-self) want for myself and the world and instead let my fundamental desire be to join God in seeing and loving the world as it really is and is meant to become, which is so beyond my limited vision, then I can be openly present to God for the well-being of whoever or whatever may show itself. In such open presence, God’s Spirit in me—my deepest, truest, most mysterious identity—joins God’s Spirit beyond me. My limited “I” is not the center of such prayer. Nor is God, as separate from me, the center. Rather, the center is communion in God.

When I bring some particular situation or persons to such intercession, my intention is simply to share God’s Love in that situation. In this process, I am recognizing that mysterious Love as the heart of reality, on behalf of whatever the particular subject of the intercession may be. I am simply present with a mind of unknowing, openly given to God’s heart for the sake of this situation/person. My own desire is for whatever is most serving of creative Love, known fully by God alone. I want to be available for that Love, however that may show itself, which may be simply my offering of the situation itself at this time. Quakers, in their own way, might see this to be the gist of “holding someone (or some situation) in the Light.”

An extension of such prayer is a stance in the world of holding all sides together in a given situation involving conflict. Sometimes that’s our primary calling: just to hold all sides together in prayer, wanting the best way of loving action to show itself through the differences, and for that way to be recognized and followed together. At other times we may be called to move in a very particular direction on some issue, and that may cause resistance from those who disagree or don’t understand what we’re doing. Our prayer then can be the expression of our hope to join God’s way through our action and our willingness to remain open to new light for our path of action.

This kind of prayer also maintains a sense of inclusion of those who oppose us, a desire for them to listen with us for Love’s way, a sense of their belonging to the same community in God, with whom reconciliation eventually needs to happen. Such prayer participates in the outstretched arms of Christ on the cross, enfolding and inviting the whole world into reconciling Love.


This article is excerpted from Tilden’s book, Embracing the Call to Spiritual Depth (Paulist Press, 2010).

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