StabilityOne way in which we can begin to move toward a healthy understanding of contemplative prayer (and life) that the scriptures points us towards, is to practice stability. Jonathon Hartgrove writes, “the practice of stability is the means by which God’s house becomes our home…the ground of stability is always God’s grace. But the stability God invites us into is a practice that entails a way of life. To dwell in the house of God is to be transformed into people who know the ways and means of God” (Hartgrove 2010, 17).
Stability is not economic provision, secure health care, and properly functioning cars. Stability deals much more closely with the notion that “we are suspended between heaven and earth on a ladder that promises communion with God but is also planted firmly on the ground…it is a commitment to trust God not in an ideal world, but in the battered and bruised world we know” (Hartgrove 2010, 24). Stability cannot overlook community. It is attached to community because it’s in the house of God that we create a home, a foundation for our faith, and we ultimately put our trust in God to sustain us in that community.
The individual that seeks a contemplative prayer life must practice interruption. He/she must become aware that out of a contemplative prayer life, transformation happens, reorients, creates new realities, and challenges assumptions. This might sound the opposite of stability, but instead is a foundation for stability and contemplative prayer. As Christians, we are participating in a faith that at its genesis is about transformation, change, restoration, and renewal.
Interruption then works hand-in-hand with stability, because at our root of stability is the yearning for change and transformation. This becomes our goal. We are seeking the face of the God that transforms and doesn’t leave His children unaffected. As we participate in contemplative prayer, we notice God in each situation and scenario as moving its participants in a direction. Contemplative prayer enables us to holistically interrupt status quo and participate more fully in His kingdom, by knowing the heart of God.
This is not an easy task. We often enjoy uninterrupted stability in our jobs, our homes, and relationships. But in Christ, we cannot stand still. Part of culture’s lie is that our identities are tied to the ladders we climb. How high we can get tells our story and defines us. However, in contemplative prayer we are satisfied that our identities are in Christ alone, that we proclaim a new metric for whatever “success” may be, and that being with God is more important than becoming one.