The Power of Silence in Prayer

Over the years as I grew in my faith life, I went through a shift in how I believed prayer was meant to “done.” In  my younger faith walk, I thrived on community prayer in the form of praise and worship. I spent many years as a cantor, a worship leader, and sung/played guitar in a few choirs and young adult ministries. As a community we drew closer to each other by singing together various worship songs in adoration of our God. That was in my much younger and more energized years of life as well. Now being in my forties, a working mother of two Autistic sons, and a wife to a man with a disability, my faith walk has changed. Whereas in my youth, my focus was on how our faith community would worship together, in my adult faith walk my focus has turned toward my personal relationship with my God. That relationship is only strengthened through a very personal prayer life. Being older in my church community, and having “lived” a lot of life through our struggles as a family, I realized that there is a great power in being alone. This is especially true in my prayer life. In my youth, I often felt I could not pray unless I could “hear” the prayer being uttered, or sung. Now, as a mom, wife, employee, and person who struggles with life in general.

Unfortunately, as an adult in her forties, I also came to the stark realization that the words often escape me when I want to say a prayer. It wasn’t until I looked at early church leaders and the saints that I noticed their prayer lives. Where I had assumed that prayer had to be spoken aloud, the saints, especially Saint Ignatius of Loyola, discovered that silence in itself is not only essential for prayer, but silence can and is a form of prayer itself. Why is silence needed? Just as in music, a pause or silence can draw our attention to something profound in the song or the musical piece, so too silence has the same effect in prayer. When we are silent or use silence as our prayer, we force ourselves to be more receptive to the Holy Spirit ((for full article, click on http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/A-Christian-Science-Perspective/2015/0312/The-needed-silence-in-prayer). When we are silent, we actively acknowledge God, the Spirit, as the Presence we are seeking. We are still and are able to feel the divine come to us.

This is easier said than done, of course. In my book series, The Last Prophet, Books One through Five, we read that it is in those moments of silence that God speaks and we are more clearly receptive to His voice. I say that it is easier said than done because we are human. Being human, we are bombarded by our to-do lists, things we needed to commit to emory for us to accomplish for the day, distractions from remembering all that happened in the day, and the list could go on and on. It is also in these distracted states that less positive thoughts, worries, and unresolved issues creep up and steal our attention away. Silence, then, includes not just the silence of sound around us during prayer, but also the silencing of our internal conversations and arguments. It is a skill we must practice, but the good thing about it is that as we continue to strive toward achieving and reaching that silence, we become more and more adept at obtaining that silence. Does it happen overnight? No. But it is in the effort we make that draws us closer to the goal of silence and prayer.

In my moments when I found it difficult to find silence around me, I focused on the sounds of nature around me and what God may have been trying to speak to me through the sounds. I used the sounds that I once thought a distraction, and silenced myself, or stilled myself where all I did was listen. Listening with my ears as well as my heart has been a daily practice and, if I may call it so, an exercise in spirituality. This is my silence and it is through that I have formulated moments of prayer to be alone with God.

How has silence helped you? What are ways in which you draw silence toward yourself? Comment in the space provided.

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