Over the past couple of months as I have been examining my own prayer life, I have found myself coming back to this Richard Rohr post from 17 May in which he suggests that contemplation is the key to prayer. "Otherwise", he says, "prayer is just formulas, repeating clichés that we think God likes."
Contemplation leads, in a phrase used by Rowan Williams, to “freedom from self-orientation.” Richard Rohr comments:
It’s the recognition that life isn’t all about me. Until you’re free from yourself, you can’t be free in the spiritual sense. You can have political or economic freedom, but if you are not free from your own ego, from your own centrality inside of your own thinking, I don’t think you’re very free at all. In fact, your actions and behaviour will be totally predictable. Everything will revolve around your security, survival, self-protection, self-validation, self, self, self!
Recognising that "much of the time we’re just jerked around by our passing emotions", Rohr asserts that contemplation teaches us how to stand up to this and not let our emotions and obsessive thoughts control us.
I have found the article extremely helpful. You can read the full post here: The Contemplative Mind Is a Mind Liberated from Itself