Contemplative Prayer

by Thomas Merton

Other authorsThich Nhat Hanh (Introduction)
Paperback, 1996



Call number



New York: Doubleday, 1969.

User reviews

LibraryThing member LTW
This little gem of a book, newly issued with a foreword from the great Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (who knew Merton in the 1960s) beautifully distills Merton's own reading and long experience with contemplation. Written close to the end of Merton's life, this book is not so much a "how
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to" guide as it is a kind of contemplation of contemplation. Immersed in the "negative theology" of St. John of the Cross and others--and influenced by his deep reading in Zen--Merton here stresses that in meditation "we should not look for a 'method' or 'system,' but cultivate an 'attitude,' an 'outlook': faith, openness, attention, reverence, expectation, supplication, trust, joy." God is found in the desert of surrender: this means giving up any expectation for a particular message and "waiting on the Word of God in silence," knowing that any answer will be "his silence itself suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God." --Doug Thorpe
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LibraryThing member StephenBarkley
Merton is one godly man. I’ve read many books on prayer that have left a vague aftertaste of unlived academia. Contemplative Prayer, on the other hand, is a book of personal experience informed by a brilliant mind.

This is not a book for beginners. It would have been almost worthless to me back in
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Seminary when I was more interested in being correct than communicating with God. Even now, there were many times during Contemplative Prayer where I felt like I’m just beginning my journey with God in prayer. In God, there are always deeper places to journey.

One of the highlights of this book was his recurring use of St. John of the Cross’ Dark Night. Merton constantly reminds us that real contemplation is not focused on the effects of prayer. There are times in prayer when we feel no divine consolations. Many times contemplation is a journey through the desert.

If you’re serious about and committed to a life-long journey of contemplative prayer, Merton’s a wise and reliable spiritual adviser.
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LibraryThing member homericgeek
Read from March 13 to April 03, 2014, read count: 1

There are concepts in this book that can be used by people in any tradition. It's not my favorite of the book of Thomas Merton which I've read, but I'm glad I read it. I'll probably re-read it later, after reading some of his earlier stuff. I think
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this is one of his latter works.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Thomas Merton's final book is a contemplation of contemplative prayer. It's primarily written to monks, but could be useful for anyone interested in deepening his or her understanding of prayer.

I was at a bit of a disadvantage being neither a monk nor a Catholic nor very clear yet on what
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"contemplative prayer" means in practice. Merton's advice is still very practical, and I like the emphasis he gives on the fact that what's learned in silence and solitude should translate into visible action and love of fellow men. I wrote down several quotes to mull over further and would read it again in the future.
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LibraryThing member danhammang
A sad farewell to a great voice. It was even better the second time. These essays, put together after his death, lack the editing and integration he might have done but nonetheless bring a modern voice to an ancient tradition. He gives much to savor and ponder.
LibraryThing member deusvitae
A series of meditations by Merton regarding the life of contemplative prayer.

The author spends time discussing some of the mechanics of the contemplative prayer life, explores some of its historical figures, and speaks of the challenges of the false self attempting to use contemplative prayer to
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justify its own ends, as well as the challenges of maintaining balance in a contemplative position.

Worth consideration and reflection.
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LibraryThing member tony_sturges
In this classic text, Thomas Merton offers valuable guidance for prayer. He brings together a wealth of meditative and mystical influences–from John of the Cross to Eastern desert monasticism–to create a spiritual path for today. Most important, he shows how the peace contacted through
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meditation should not be sought in order to evade the problems of contemporary life, but can instead be directed back out into the world to affect positive change.

Contemplative Prayer is one of the most well-known works of spirituality of the last one hundred years, and it is a must-read for all seeking to live a life of purpose in today’s world.
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Original publication date



0385092199 / 9780385092197

Local notes

Originally Published as The climate of monastic prayer

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