I discovered a wonderful blog written by a man of prayer who considers it his life’s work to share the joy of true Christian prayer and to teach people how to pray. He has also published countless books. In his own words David says,” All my writings try to promote the Christian way of prayer, and I consider it my life’s work.” David writes at David Torkington: Journalist, Author, Speaker http://www.davidtorkington.com/Home.html
Melanie: Are you familiar with the Fr. John Main’s use of a Christian mantra, Maranatha, while meditating?
David: Yes I am. But I do not agree with his use of mantras for everyone, at all stages of the Christian prayer journey. To quote from my website:-
- The Christian mystical tradition continually asserts that any man-made means or techniques cannot attain true contemplation, which is a pure gift of God.
- The gift of contemplation is only given after years of practising prayer in the context of an ascetical life-style. There is no such thing as instant mysticism in the Christian tradition. Techniques that purport to lead to the same are bogus.
- Authentic Christian prayer never begins by introducing mantras to teach people how to pray, but by introducing them to a loving person to teach them how to love. It is only when first love leads them on, that words or phrases are taught, not to generate or maintain states of inner peace but to maintain the heart’s attention on the love that radiates from God. They should not be repeated, come what may, but should be discarded the moment this love begins to make itself felt, so that it can be savoured in silent contemplation.
- The experience of contemplation then, is not due to the recitation of mantras calming the mind, but to the tangible experience of the love of God drawing the heart to ever more absorbing degrees of intensity. The use of words or phrases is merely a means to this end.
- The ultimate aim of Christian contemplation is not to search for an experience of inner peace, but to search for God whose love eventually leads them into experiences that infinitely transcend any form of man-made mysticism, gradually transforming them into Christ.
Melanie: You have just written the best response I have ever read. We live only two hours from Montreal, where Fr. Main’s monastery is, so his second, Fr. Lawrence Freeman, gave talks in Ottawa decades ago. We .tried the mantra for a year but Fr. Lawrence repudiated any contact with the Holy Spirit… any sense of God’s love, any sense of inner word or a word of knowledge or any insights. It seemed ridiculous to us and impossible to even try control the flow of the Spirit and shut out His voice.
David: I know of one person who travelled from the UK to John Maine’s monastery, and after a year of endlessly being told to ‘Keep saying your mantra’, she was in despair. Her prayer life came to a halt, until she discarded his method and returned to praying in the Christian way. We now have Fr Freeman in England promoting the John Main method and sadly he has a following…. All my writings try to promote the Christian way of prayer, and I consider it my life’s work.
You sound as if you could see the way…..
and 9 children, how magnificent!
Melanie: Yes, God has been gracious to me and loved me through my children. In fact they have formed my spirituality. It is all grace now because He shows up when I least expect it and our communion is sheer gift, a surprising gift .
David: I appreciate your understanding of ‘sheer gift’.
connecting with Convert Journal and” 7 posts in 7 days”
Published by melanie jean juneau
Melanie Jean Juneau serves as the Editor in Chief of Catholic Stand. She is a mother of nine children who has edited her kid's university term papers for over a decade. She blogs at joy of nine9 and mother of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, a columnist at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC, author of Echoes of the Divine and Oopsy Daisy, and coauthor of Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood.
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7 thoughts on “About Christian Prayer: With David Torkington”
Melanie this is very deep. I hope you will share more. I love that he says it is about loving and receiving God’s love.
there is so much more I could share- I never thought about it but I might start a series of my own insights + more interviews
Melanie I loved your piece with David Torkington— I was not familiar with him, so I did go to his page— I had already started a bit of study of GK Chesterton, but I am diving in more fully since reading your interview
I feel we have all been led down a pretty path of confusion and lies with all the ‘self help” and pop psychology along with ‘pop’ religion these past fifty years
I know it has always been so— with heresy peddled as good advice— but wow, well it leaves me on my knees— which is a good place to be
Yes exactly. You’re right prayer is what’s needed.