Here are five dimensions of silent prayer:
- Silence & Stillness: Sit comfortably, but attentively; like you're in the presence of a great teacher (because you are). Posture is also important because sitting with an arched back for too long will cause you to get distracted by discomfort or pain. Relax all of the muscles covering your head, including your face. Release any unnecessary tension being held throughout your body. Be still. Let impulses to shift or move come and go without honoring them more than your commitment to “be still and know” before God, for God.
- Attention & Intention: In silent prayer, you are openhandedly surrendering your attention and intention to the abiding love and presence of God. This doesn’t require forcibly thinking about God, but simply lying them down and resting them in God’s trust-worthiness. Repeat a passage, prayer, phrase, or word quietly, slowly, and internally. Doing this gives your mind rest from having to process and articulate thoughts. Be sure that you only repeat them with only focusing on and with it, and not thinking about it. This will influence your entire day! For instance, if you repeat the words, "Dwell in God's love," for 30 minutes every morning, the moments you dwell in anger or frustration or boredom will stand out to you like an alarm reminding you of the abiding hope available for you to live in.
- Time: Use a clock or put your cell phone on airplane mode and set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes so that you can fully let go of having to think about your timeframe. If you can't imagine going longer than 5min, start there! Give what you can, and eventually, challenge yourself by adding just 2-5 more minutes. Don't let your mental conditioning tell you how long you can or can't be silent with God. Keep returning to your passage, prayer, phrase, or word throughout your entire designated time of silent prayer.
- Acceptance: Whatever your experience, accept it openhandedly. If you are extremely distracted but draw your attention and intention back to Christ 100 times during your 30 minutes, acknowledge how much more effective this is than just giving in to your mental currents. You are building spiritual muscle with by your perseverance and resolute stillness. Likewise, if your experience is euphoric, don't let your attention be more absorbed in your satisfaction than it is with God's humble presence.
- Love: The Christian faith is summarized in loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, as well as loving our neighbors as ourself. Therefore, any spiritual practice or discipline should only bring us closer to friends, family, neighbors, and even "enemies". If at any point we find our faith creating any kind of division, we've deviated from practicing Christianity. Silent Prayer teaches us to deny ourselves at the surface levels so that we may learn to dive and live more deeply and aware, and follow Christ, in all and through all. This looks like Love.
If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.
– Saint Francis de Sales