The Prayer of Awareness
by William Shannon
THE TASK OF PRAYER is the help me achieve the conscious awareness that I am indeed living in God's presence. I am in God. What this means, in very practical terms, is that I don't have to worry about "getting anywhere" in prayer, because I am already there. I simply have to become aware of this. That is why I describe the wordless prayer that disposes us for contemplative prayer as the prayer of awareness.
It needs to be said, therefore, that we do not really become contemplatives. For we are -- all of us -- contemplatives in the root and ground of our being. For at the root of our being we are one with God, one with one another, and one with the world in which we live.
Spending time in prayer, therefore, must not be looked upon as a means of achieving this oneness, but of recognizing that it is there. Prayer does not make us contemplatives; rather it can make us aware that we truly are contemplatives, but at a level of perception we do not often achieve.
Prayer, silence, and solitude are moments of grace that can awaken us to the contemplative side of our being. And we do need to be awakened to it. But it is there for the awakening.
From Silence on Fire by William Shannon, (The Crossroad Publishing Co., New York: 1991).