All great traditions teach us some form of contemplation, because it is actually a different form of knowledge that emerges inside of the "cloud of unknowing."
It is a refusal to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and finding freedom, grace and comfort in the not needing to know, which ironically opens us up to a much deeper consciousness that we would call the mind of God. That's because our small mind and lesser self is finally out of the way.Richard Rohr, from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality
I think that's a big part of it - our "small mind and lesser self" are all that occupy us most of the time, and anything that disables that littleness of mind for a while helps us see that there is far more "out there" than we had ever dreamed of. But many things that appear to give us this freedom - sex, danger, Abraham Maslow's "peak experiences" - are ultimately, if used this way, prisons themselves, what we could call idols: things that become (or are already) ends in themselves, rather than gateways to the silence that is the place of God.
Only contemplation gives us freedom. I'm not talking here about the mechanics, the techniques, but simply about that place beyond the grasp of our own littleness that all the technique and methods serve and lead towards. When we dare to allow God to love us, when we open our hears to allow his Spirit to "guide us into all truth" (John 16.13), then the Spirit will show us how to pray (Romans 8.26). That may be a very different way for you than for me, which is why it's hard to be prescriptive - or proscriptive! - about ways and means of prayer. Listen to God. Ask questions. Read. There's an adventure ahead!