Practice of Silence
What is the practice of silence? The desire behind this spiritual practice is to free oneself from the addiction and distraction of noise. So that we can be totally present and dependent on God.
“Silence is a regenerative practice of attending and listening to God in quiet, without interruption and noise. Silence provides freedom from speaking as well as from listening to words or music.” (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook)
We live in a world of noise, from cell phones, TV’s to the constant dinging of car alarms and alarm clocks. All our days have a constant amount of words, music, ringing and buzzing. From the moment we awake till our head hits the pillow again we are inundated with noise.
We need to realize that the world can go on with out us, with out the constant checking of the latest post or text. Life will go on without all this and yes, we might miss something, but it will not be life ending. The discipline of silence invites us to leave behind the demand for more, the demand of our outer physical world for time alone with Jesus.
It is in these quiet moments that we can feel and experience things within ourselves that we do not often notice. In the stillness we can sense fear, joy, sadness, or anger. Our physical outer world attracts more attention than our desire to be silent before God. In silence it feels like nothing is happening and we are missing everything, it feels like a waste of time. “Like a can opener, the silence opens up the contents of our heart, allowing us deeper access to God than we experience at other times.” (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook)
- If silence is new to you, begin with a relatively short period of time 5 – 10 minutes. Set a timer on your smart phone or clock which will help you focus and not watch the clock. Intentionally place yourself in a place that you can be present to God. Take a couple deep breathes to allow the noise to dissipate and the silence to take over. “The benefits of being silent are often seen in the fruit it bears rather than in the experience of silence.”
- While you are doing a normal routine task around the house turn off any background noise and continue the task. Be in the present, doing what you are doing with a listening heart. What do you feel? What is it like for you? What distracts you?
Practicing of presence
We all live our lives in the presence of God. We cannot not live our lives in the presence of God. The great author C.S. Lewis wrote that we can ignore his presence but we can’t evade it. But we also live in a world that works to crowd him out. From our to-do list to our smart phones to our overwhelming pace of life we forget to look for God in the everyday moments of our lives.
In her book “The God Hunt”, Karen Mains suggests that practicing the presence is like going on a “God Hunt”. We need to keep our soul awake to God because God could jump out at us at any point and say “boo, here I am”. Are we ready to hear from God when he jumps out at us, will we even look up from our phones long enough to listen?
Practicing the presence is about living into a deeper awareness of God and his activity in our lives. “Through many small pauses we begin a habit of turning our hearts toward God.” It might be before we send a text or make a phone call, maybe before a big meeting or before the test you have been cramming for. Whatever the moment long or short practicing the presence asks us to stop and remember, that God is with you. To say a short prayer as you enter your school each morning, or the soccer pitch every evening. Before you leap out of bed in the morning take a moment in the quiet stillness of your room to thank God for a new day, for breath and for the sense of smell, touch, sight and hearing. For those all help us embrace the presence of God.
- In the “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook” one of the suggestions is to practice the presence in interruptions. When we acknowledge God in our interruptions we are saying, “I am here”. “Throughout your day-perhaps every time you are interrupted- tell God ‘I am here’”. Remind yourself in those moments that you are in the presence of Jesus, who had time for people and was often interrupted throughout his day. Some of Jesus most gracious and profound miracles happened when he was interrupted.