We carry within us a world of unrelenting noise. This never ending stream of regrets, ambitions, hopes, and fears is so pervasive it’s hard to imagine our lives without it. Though we may experience unexpected moments of inner silence and peace, we usually presume they’re too infrequent and random to count on. Surprisingly, however, such times often leave us so impacted we find ourselves yearning for more and wondering if maybe . . . just maybe they don’t have to be so infrequent after all.
For me, this paradox plays out all too often in my practice of prayer. Though I’ve known wonder-filled times of peaceful solitude in prayer, I am often tempted to question the reality of such memories. For the longer my soul is starved of silence my experience of prayer becomes more a routine than intimate fellowship between my God and me.
Yes, there is a war ever raging in my soul over the need to choose silence and the absolute inconvenience of that choice every time. There seems to always be a relationship, an unfinished task, a deadline, or a thousand other crises demanding my attention to think . . . to worry . . . to be afraid. Am I alone in this paradox?
We live in a culture of such fantastic distraction that silence and solitude usually seem miserably boring by comparison. We’re so accustomed to the pleasures and benefits of modern society that we’re often oblivious to the impact of its cost. With instant access of information, entertainment, and purchase, few waking minutes remain when we’re not held hostage by noisy chatter swirling in our minds. Eventually, the cost becomes clear—we’ve lost the ability to silence our souls.
In silence we learn to trust in God and listen for his voice. Though we still love the excitement of our distractions, we no longer allow them to hijack our time so that none is left to silently wait upon God. As we do, we create space and opportunity for the Holy Spirit to reawaken our senses to the wonder of Christ in us the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
The more we find practical ways to silence our souls we nurture a heart most receptive to the voice and presence of Christ. Though our initial efforts might feel awkward and meager we must persist nonetheless. In doing so, I’ve found that what once seemed only random divine encounters finally become regular times of holy fellowship—a time where he and I are set apart, in the chapel of my heart. Next week we talk about how God reminds us of his presence even when he feels utterly distant.
What Do You Think?
Do you find it difficult to quiet your heart in prayer? If so, why?
♦ To see the video and poem this post is based on, click here.