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This study sought to investigate the effects of contemplative prayer practices on three areas of the interior life: (1) the effect of contemplative silence on overcoming chaotic thought and anxiety, (2) the effect of contemplative practice of appreciative delight, focused on finding God in all things, on overcoming negative and depressive thinking, (3) the effect of contemplative rest in the finished work of Christ on the ability to overcome shame and distrust of God.
The creation account of Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 reveals contemplation as an essential element of God’s character through which God overcomes chaos, delights in all of creation, and chooses to rest. Contemplation is an innate ability of human beings made in God’s image and a necessary aspect of human life and thriving, without which life becomes chaotic, depressive and restless. These contemplative practices have been used in different eras of church history, but have, until recently, been forgotten in modern society.
The project attempted to reconnect a group of Protestants to historic contemplative spirituality. The hypothesis is that contemplative practices create a deeper connection with God and have a healing affect on those wrestling with chaotic thought and anxiety, negative and depressive thought, and guilt and distrust of God.
The thesis was tested on a small group at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship in Southeastern Virginia. Subjects took part in a ten week study, after which the affects of contemplative prayer were analyzed. The general conclusion of the study was that the introduction of contemplative practices did lead to greater intimacy with God and had some healing affect on areas of chaotic thought, depressive thought, and restless guilt. While the findings of such a small sample cannot be conclusive, the study hopes to open the way to further research.
Content Reader: Randy Rowland, PhD
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Contemplation; Prayer; Meditation; Image of God; Small Group; Small groups; Rural Church; Rural churches; Desert Spirituality; Spirituality; Reformed; Ignatian spirituality; Peace Hill Christian Fellowship
Christianity | Practical Theology
Material is subject to copyright.
Bauer, Peter, "Introducing Contemplative Spirituality and Practices to a Pilot Small Group at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship" (2020). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 438.