the good way

Practicing Silence

Session 1 • Prayer • Activation

“When we make room for silence, we make room for ourselves…Silence invites the unknown, the untamed, the wild, they shy, the unfathomable - that which rarely has a chance to surface within us.” — Gunilla Norris

If you are beginning to practice silence for the first time, you can start with five minutes. Over time you can gradually increase this to ten, fifteen or even twenty minutes each day. The purpose of this time is less about ‘getting’ anything and more about simply being with Jesus. This is less about ‘emptying your mind’ and more about filling your mind, heart and soul with an awareness of God’s presence and resting in his abundant love and grace. (If it helps you relax more, you can set a timer so that you will know when to end your time of silent prayer.)

  • Find a place that allows you to be open and available to God, where you can sit comfortably and quietly.
  • Take some deep breaths and invite God to be present with you.
  • To help you get settled in, you can read a short prayer or a few verses of scripture and then put it aside.

“I am humbled and quieted in your presence. Like a contented child that rests on its mother’s lap, I’m your resting child and my soul is content in you.” — Psalm 131: 2

  • Close your eyes and continue to take some deep breaths.
  • Imagine yourself in God’s presence. Sit under his loving gaze, knowing that he wants to be with you. Don’t try to make anything happen. Sit with whatever comes to your awareness.
  • You might find it helpful to name how you come into God’s presence: ‘God, I come to you today feeling….’
  • It may be helpful to name what you desire from God: ‘God, I desire to….’
  • Now, enter into a time of silence.
  • Return to your breathing. Breathe in deeply, breathe out fully.
  • As you breathe in, invite the Spirit of God to fill you, as you breathe out surrender to his love.
  • Many people find it helpful to silently repeat a simple word or phrase: ‘Jesus’, ‘Lord, have mercy’, ‘Come, Holy Spirit.’ Brennan Manning encourages a simple process of sitting comfortably in silence and as you inhale, quietly whispering the name “abba” and as you exhale, softly saying, “I belong to you.” Some people develop their own personal ‘breath prayer’.
  • Whenever your thoughts begin to wander you can use this phrase as an anchor to bring your attention back to Jesus.
“When I am liberated by silence, 
when I am no longer involved 
  in the measurement of life,
but in the living of it, 
I can discover a form of prayer in which 
there is effectively, no distraction. 
My whole life becomes a prayer. 
My whole silence is full of prayer. 
The world of silence in which 
   I am immersed contributes to my prayer.
Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, … and solitude, 
where everything I touch is turned into prayer: 
where the sky is my prayer, 
the birds are my prayer, 
the wind in the trees is my prayer, 
for God is all in all.”
~ Thomas Merton

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