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If prayer is conversation with God, where does silence fit in? Is silence in prayer a gap in the conversation, or a time to listen and connect? How comfortable are you with silence?

In Isaiah 30:15, God says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” In his great book on prayer “Following the Prayer Paths of Jesus,” John Indermark says, “We ignore returning and rest at our own risk: the risk of running on empty, of assuming everything depends on us, of exhausting energies and spirit, of failing to discern God’s presence through the fog of activity.” Later on, he points out that “Jesus’ prayers in solitude create the context from which his activist ministry proceeds.”

Silence in prayer takes some practice, and some getting used to. Our lives are full of noise. We are so uncomfortable with silence that we work with music playing, turn on the music or the television the minute we walk in the door of our house, drive with the radio on, and even buy machines to make “white noise” to help us sleep. In our “connected” world, we are constantly communicating, on the phone, on the computer, in conversation and collaboration. There is very little silence, and sitting in actual quiet, with no artificial sound whatsoever can be disconcerting. It makes us feel a little un-anchored, set adrift.

It’s important to remember that in prayer, we should not be doing all the talking. We can sometimes hear best when we do feel a bit set adrift, without our usual props and supports. Periods of silence are important, both for listening for God speaking to us in the quiet, and for rest and healing.

This year my Lenten fast is noise. I am setting aside scheduled periods of time in my day and my week to turn everything off and experience the peace and presence of God in the quiet. I included visual “noise,” and removed everything from my prayer space at home so that it is plain and empty for the next 40 days. I am looking forward to finding strength in the quietness and trust, as God promised in Isaiah. I invite you to try this, too, and see what you find in the silence.

Jennifer Creagar
Resurrection Prayer Ministry

Praying for those we love…

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We all know that it is those closest to us who can make us crazy, frustrate or hurt us. If only they would…listen when we talk, not nag, do more around the house, leave the seat down, close the garage door, talk more, talk less, be more romantic, not have unrealistic romantic expections…

Sometimes that spills into our prayers for those we love. Instead of praying for God’s grace in the lives of our loved ones, or for God’s guidance and presence in our relationship, we find ourselves praying, “God, please fix him(her)”, followed by a list of ways we hope God will improve this person who is dear to us.

When we pray the “God fix ____” prayers, we are focusing on just one side of our relationship, and on top of that, we are focusing on negative thoughts and feelings. We are asking for our own way, asking God to be a referee, not the healer of all and the center of our lives and relationships. We are not asking God to fix what he wants to fix, which is our relationship with him, both separately and together.

I love this modern psalm, written by Ruth St. Denis in An Unfinished Life:

Oh, you lovers everywhere
who are parted and troubled,
or near and discordant,
go quickly to Him who waits
on the hilltops of your souls,
for there you will find peace, and your hidden love.

Let Christ always be
the third person at the feast,
the white passion at the bridal,
the constant companion on the road.

He is the ultimate answer
and even now
is nearer than breath
or as far away
as your stubborn will.

I think that is how we should pray for each other.

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