The Sound of Silence
There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.
- Ecclesiastes 3:7
Scripture is clear that there are different seasons in life, and even in each day. And while most of us find time to speak, few of us are good at finding time to be appropriately and prayerfully silent. Today we’re going to take a shot at being silent - totally silent - for five minutes. You’d be surprised how hard it can be - and how refreshing! Since we’ve been learning other practices around prayer and silence this week, those options are still available as well - give them a try :-)
Get yourself in a quite place and get comfortable. Often it works best to sit upright with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your knees. Set an alarm for 5 minutes. Say a simple prayer like “God, please meet me in silence,” and then breathe deeply a few times. There’s no need to fill the time with prayers or words in your mind. Let your mind rest, and as people or ideas or concerns pop up, gently surrender them and seek to rest in the silence a bit longer, aware of God’s presence and care for you. When the timer goes off, thank God for the silence.
The basic rhythm of the Christian life is receiving God’s grace and then sharing it. Many Christians through the ages have practiced a simple form of prayer that reflects that rhythm. Often it is called the ‘breath prayer’ because you pray a short sentence “Fill me” as you breathe in and “Use me” when you exhale. To practice this exercise best, commit to pray the breath prayer at several points of the day. You may want to write yourself a reminder and put it on your car dashboard or your refrigerator, or you may want to set your watch to beep on the hour as a reminder. Whenever it works for you to pray it, breathe in with gratitude, simply saying “Fill me” as a way of asking God to fill you again with grace, strength, and love. Then, as you breath out, say “Use me” (or a similar phrase) to signify your desire to serve and love and give yourself away. And try to be attentive to God along the way.
Set aside a little time to pray the following prayer. Say each line quietly to yourself, taking a nice long pause in between. At the end of the time, take a few minutes in silence (it might work best to set a timer for the whole thing so you don’t get antsy, wondering if you’ve spend ‘enough’ time). As you go through this prayer just clear your mind - and don’t get frustrated when other thoughts, tasks, or people show up uninvited in your thoughts - just gently bring yourself back to the next line in the prayer, whispering it softly to yourself, enjoying God’s presence. So here’s the prayer - again, take a nice long pause at the end of each line.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
This option is simply about taking a walk around the block as a spiritual practice, silently praying through one question for each side of the block. (If it doesn’t work for you to walk, consider taking 5 minutes in silence - set a timer if you need to for each question)
If you can walk, get outside taking one side of the city block to ponder each of the following questions. Let this be your practice for the week.
God, will you help me remember my belovedness and my connection to you?
God, will you help me connect to my own heart - what’s really going on inside of me today?
God, will you help me see what you are up to in my life today?
God, will you help me look forward through the rest of this day and to talk with you about what is coming up?