A contemplative is someone who organizes their life to pray. What ever else they may do in a day, it is prayer that is central. The true work of their life is to pray.
They will set fixed times to pray each day. This is the habit if a contemplative. In the morning and evening. Maybe at different times through the day and at the time they go to sleep. Their prayer maybe quiet sitting or singing Psalms. When possible they will pray with others. When necessary they will pray alone know that there are others praying as well somewhere.
They see this as their work. Everything else comes from it. Success and failure is weighed by it. Prayer is always the first thing.
And it isn’t prayer as a ritual per se. The rituals exist in every tradition, but the ritual isn’t complete in itself. The ritual is an aid, a help. It keeps us on track, doing the things we hold most important. But we are all too familiar with empty prayers. And a life spent in the rituals if empty prayers strikes me as something beyond sad.
The contemplative believes, hopes, casts their fate upon the possibility of connecting with God. They long to extend their life beyond the imminent. They long to reach the transcendent and to be transformed by it. To become more whole. To become fuller. To become better. This is the point of living and prayer is the path.