Praying with Christian Mystics

Volume 1: Medieval Mystics

Available in two formats

Mysticism can be defined in many ways, however at the heart of most definitions is simply "experiencing God's presence." Using this definition, all of us have had mystical encounters, although few of us would name them as such. Some are intense and life-changing. Some are fleeting -- a feeling or a sense that God was with us in way that we couldn't begin to describe.

"Praying with Christian Mystics" is a journey of prayer, meditation and other devotional practices, based on the life and writings of men and women who spent their entire lives reaching for a deeper experience of God's presence and wrestling for the right words, stories, analogies, images, etc. to share what they've found with others. Volume 1 focuses on medieval mystics from the 12th - 17th centuries.

Participants will learn about the background and main contributions of the mystic, then will be invited to explore different ways of praying and meditating. Some suggested exercises are creative, some are contemplative. Some emerge from Scripture, some are based on mystic's own words. Some will encourage the participant to reflect back on their spiritual journey, some will help to articulate how one is sensing God's presence (or absence) right now. Participants can work through all of the suggested exercises or choose what fits them best as a focus.

(The writings of the medieval mystics are often complicated and inaccessible. This resource will pull out key teachings and central themes and quotes in a very accessible and user-friendly form. Suggestions will be given for optional further reading from each mystic's writings, for those who are interested.)

Praying with Christian Mystics Overview:

  • Introduction to Mysticism & Preparing for the Journey
  • Bernard of Clairvaux
  • Hildegard of Bingen
  • Meister Eckhart
  • The Anonymous Author of the Cloud of Unknowing
  • Julian of Norwich
  • Teresa of Avila
  • John of the Cross
  • George Fox

An optional album of recordings to accompany this resource isavailable from iTunes.Go to the iTunes store and find the album "Praying with Christian Mystics" under "Music." (Also available in other online music venues, such as mp3 downloads,,, etc.)

Written By:
Praying with Christian Mystics, Volume 1: Medieval Mystics is written by Tracey Marx, with Anne Thayer. Tracey Marx is a former Presbyterian pastor and spiritual director, and the writer of many Scripture Echo resources. She is the co-author of Exploring Contemplative Prayer: A Nine Month Journey to the Quiet. Anne Thayer, who contributes the historical background to each chapter, is the Church History professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary. She is the author of Penitence, Preaching and the Coming of the Reformation.

Reactions to Exploring Contemplative Prayer:
We offer these reactions to our Exploring Contemplative Prayer, a similar nine month resource:

In a day when people claim to be more spiritual than religious, "Exploring Contemplative Prayer" has provided our church with a way to meet the needs of our members. In a day when people are too busy to attend Sunday School, I feel like we are offering a class to them for when they choose to learn. The increased interest in prayer is leading us to consider new directions for our congregation's offerings.
Rev. Keith Sundberg
Wayside Presbyterian Church, Erie, PA

I tried "Exploring Contemplative Prayer" simply because I needed to deepen my prayer life. Being a pastor, many often assume that such practices as prayer come naturally. For me this has not been the case. I needed a lot of help and have deeply benefited from this program. It has broadened by prayer practices and has deepened my spiritual experience with prayer. I would strongly urge any who wish to nurture a life of prayer to enter into this nine-month experience.
Pastor David Ratcliff
Shepherd of the Sierra Presbyterian Church, Loomis, CA

The Journey has been a great asset to our congregation. A steady walk through such a broad spectrum of practices has given many members of our congregation a diversity of prayer tools for their spiritual belts! Who knew that a contemplative prayer group would be such a draw both for current members as well as others in the community who, we learned, were hungry for just this type of offering.
Pastor Carl Hilton VanOsdall
First Presbyterian Church, Barre, Vermont

I feel that this experience was one of the most significant influences in the growth of my prayer life as well as my spiritual development. The way the course was structured to allow considerable time for practice in prayer allowed for great flexibility and growth in learning all the forms of prayer that were taught.
Ezetta Walter
Spiritual Director & Group Participant

Available in two formats

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