The fourth and final step in sacred reading is contemplation. Many feel there is no difference between meditation and contemplation but we would like to point out that there are some important things about contemplation. These two ideas acting like bookends to prayer to exactly that.
The prayer that goes along with meditation brings us closer to God. It serves as the bridge to communication with God. These prayers, the ones that grow out of deep meditation on the scriptures move us to the state of contemplation.
Contemplation is silent where meditation may involve vocal sounds. Contemplation is more receptive than active. In meditation prayer we are actively speaking and communing with God as we pour out our understanding of what we have been reading. We might do well to listen to God as he spoke to Peter and the other two at the transfiguration. “This is my son, listen to him.” We think when we pray that it is a one way communication. Contemplative prayer allows us to be quiet and listen to God. Psalm 37:7 tells us to “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”
Often we can locate a place of solitude, such as a park or a garden and immediately we can sense God’s presence in the creation that surrounds us. “Speak Lord, you servant is listening.” When our mind and heart are filled with the message we have studied and meditated on and then prayed about we are ready for God to lead us, to teach us. This can only be done when our ears are open and our mouths closed.