Finding God in Silence
“Be still and know that I am God.” This article provides information and motivation for a contemplative prayer life. Helpful suggestions for dealing with wandering thoughts, such as the use of a mantra, and dealing with “dry spells” fill the article. Judy Esway is both down-to-earth and inspirational in her writing.
If you are feeling unfulfilled in your prayer life, take heart. This author says sometimes all it takes to is to be silent and listen.
IS YOUR PRAYER LIFE IN A RUT? Are there days when you feel like quitting altogether because you can’t seem to find God anymore? If so, you may be closer to God than you think. You could be in the “night of the sense,” as Saint John of the Cross calls it, the beginning stage of contemplative prayer.
In his best seller, Open Mind, Open Heart, Father Thomas Keating describes this frustrating period when the well of sweet feelings runs dry. “One reaches the point where there is nothing new to be thought, said or felt…. The emotionalism and sentimentality of childhood are beginning to be laid aside in favor of a more mature relationship with God.”
This is a critical time, a time when many lose interest in prayer. Some have even quit because they were convinced they were sliding backward. Fortunately, when it happened to me I knew something about it. I had been cautioned by spiritual friends who told me that someday the umbilical cord of emotion would be severed. It was the only way to grow. But knowing what was happening didn’t make it any easier. I wasn’t at all sure that I was ready to move into this quiet, foreign land.
‘Be Still and Know I Am God’
Silence–sweet scary silence. We want it. We don’t want it. We crave it, but we’re afraid of it. Silence makes us nervous. Lulls in conversation are quickly filled with idle, nonsensical chatter. Talk about the weather, tell a corny joke, say something–anything! Anything is better than silence.
But silence is where it happens. Silence is where we learn about ourselves. Silence is where we find God.
Spending even 10 or 15 minutes once or twice a day just sitting quietly, sinking into silence, will change your life forever. This focused concentration will spill over into all areas of your life and move you to a place of peace, creativity and inner healing.
There are many wonderful books on prayer–from the Christian classics such as Interior Castle, the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila; The Dark Night of the Soul, by Saint John of the Cross; and The Cloud of Unknowing, to more contemporary books like Open Mind, Open Heart, by Father Keating. But you don’t have to read them all before you begin to pray this way. You just begin, a little each day. And you learn along the way.
You can keep your rosaries and prayer books nearby. There will be times when you’ll just want the comfort of them. Simply holding them in your lap or fingering your beads will help you bridge the gap into silence. You may find yourself going back and forth for a while, and that’s all right. We must each find our own way. There may even be periods when you’ll want to jump out of silence altogether and revert to your former way of praying, where you knew what you were doing and were in control. You can if you wish. But it won’t be nearly as satisfying once you’ve tasted the sweet, mysterious silence.