What does the practice look like?
When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. … And when you pray, do not keep on babbling… your Father knows what you need before you ask.
– Jesus, Matthew 6.6-8
When someone applies any discipline to their daily life, even if it is a small one with persistence and consistency, it changes the whole of their lives. When that discipline is Silent Prayer, a huge change quickly takes place in our Receptivity (and there are many changes as well). We become more wholly receptive to Christ and everyone around us. That’s what disciplining ourselves to be silent does; it fosters a greater ability to listen and cultivates a more sensitive sight with which we see God, ourselves, and others.
“Why the *%&! would I want to do that?” you might ask. It’s a fair question considering how little most of us feel like we’re being heard. Communicating, rather than listening, seems more important. Why would I want to spend energy on becoming a greater listener when no one is really listening to me in the first place? Why shouldn’t I focus on being heard? Because what you will hear in Silence will change the things you’re wanting to say.
Much of what we want to say and communicate is out of a response to the way that we’ve received (been receptive to) life, relationships, and circumstances. We have strong opinions about things due to the context of how we have seen, received, and understood them. The fault in this is that people, places, and things are alway, always, always (ALWAYS) much bigger than we can understand, especially in the Reality of Christ, Who is all and is in all. There is always, always, always (ALWAYS) a Love and Divinity beyond our comprehension, in all and through all.
Silencing our opinions, knowledge, identity, and emotions in order to make room for that Greater Reality changes how all our receptors operate. It cultivates them toward the maturation of their design and purpose. We should be able to naturally and instinctively see and be receptive to the Greater Whole and Reality. It’s one of the gifts and honors of being human. But it takes practice, dedication, commitment, perseverance, and discipline, just like everything else we do with our lives. Why would this be anything less when it is so much bigger?
So, here’s a very brief 5 point layout for Silent Prayer for those who are interested:
- Stillness: understanding spiritual stillness without physical stillness is like understanding sky diving without every sky diving; it’s impossible. Be still and know.
- Time: Give your receptive skills time to evolve and progress. 20min a day is a great way to start. If this is shocking, consider what about it is shocking. Is giving God 20min of your silence not worth it? Why or why not?
- Attention &Intention: Consciously giving our attention to Something beyond our thoughts and feelings is what grows and expands our lives. Doing this with the intention of giving ourselves <em>fully</em> to the love and presence of God is what aims the trajectory of our life. Slowly repeating a passage, prayer, phrase, or word throughout our 20min of silence helps us to not get sucked into our wandering thoughts and feelings.
- Acceptance: Accept the experience for what it is and trust God. Sure, we’re distracted. Sure, our thoughts are chaotic. But this practice isn’t about us and how good we are at things. It is simply about God, God’s goodness, God’s closeness, and God’s movement within our lives. Just accept yourself as you are, because God does. Trust that God loves you more than your abilities to be anything for Him.
- Love: Jesus makes an unbreakable connection between how we love our neighbor and how we love God. As Silent Prayer increases the sensitivity of our receptivity, it will show in our compassion toward family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and enemies (Matthew 22.38-40).