An Interview on Christian Prayer With David Torkington

There is 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 Torkington is a Spiritual Theologian, Author and Speaker, who specializes in Prayer, Christian Spirituality and Mystical Theology.

His personal spirituality is predominantly Franciscan, his Mystical Theology Carmelite, all welded together with a solid blend of Benedictine moderation. He has sold over 300,000 books in more than twelve different languages. He was educated at the Franciscan Study Centre, England and the National Catholic Radio and Television Centre, Hatch End, London where he was later appointed to the post of Dean of Studies.

He was extra mural lecturer in Mystical Theology at the Dominican University in Rome (The Angelicum). In addition to giving Retreats and lecturing all over Europe, he undertook five prolonged lecture tours to Africa, mainly Equatorial Africa, speaking on Prayer and Spirituality to Religious, Monks, Diocesan Priests and lay people.

He is at present working on his latest book, Wisdom from the Christian Mystics which will be followed by his autobiography Injured Innocence.”

David writes at David  and is a regular columnist on  prayer Catholic Stand
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:-
  1. The Christian mystical tradition continually asserts that any man-made means or techniques cannot attain true contemplation, which is a pure gift of God.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.cropped-cropped-cropped-thehandofgod41.jpg
 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 an 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 Theology is a Verb

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