A while ago I read in a book (or heard in a podcast) that a well known spiritual leader who had gone to meet with another well known spiritual leader was asked straight off the bat: “What is your spiritual practice?“
I think they were surprised by that question. I guess I would be too. It’s certainly not the first question we tend to ask when meeting people. But, it’s a good question, I reckon.
So let me ask you: “What is your spiritual practice?“
Perhaps many Christians will respond with, “I go to church.” That’s certainly one of our spiritual practices and it is of course very important. But I think the question is more personal than that. I think the question is: “What do you do everyday to personally connect with God?“
Perhaps, to this, many Christians will reply, “I pray and read the Bible.” Again, that’s certainly another good and necessary answer. But once again, I think the question is “deeper” than that. Perhaps it’s best asked thus: “How do you, on a daily basis, seek to dwell in God’s presence?“
My journey, this year, has been trying to answer that question.
At the end of last year I had the distinct impression that my reading of many books and my listening to of many podcasts, while beneficial, was creating a lot of noise. This was a problem because it seemed to me that God wasn’t to be found in noise, but in silence.
That growing realisation culminated when I asked a friend what they did to connect with God and they simply replied, “I keep silence.” Their simple answer really woke me up to the dangers of uninterrupted noise.
So, on the heels of that realisation, my theme verse for 2020 became Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.” Quite frankly, I’m still figuring out how to do that.
I’ve tried Thomas Keating’s practice of Centering Prayer, and I’ve tried John Main’s practice of using the repeated prayer phrase, “Maranatha“. Most consistently, though, I’ve practiced The Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner“). I’ve found all three of these practices beneficial. Which is best? I’m not sure. Which one will I use into the future? I’m not sure. Which should you use? I’m not sure.
But what I am sure of is this – the noise can’t remain uninterrupted. I am convinced that we must keep silence if we are to encounter the Divine on more than a superficial level.
Your journey will be different to mine, and that’s fine. We’re all so very different. But I just want to gently put the concept of “keeping silence” before you and ask you to prayerfully consider it as part of your way of healing your existential angst.
Every blessing, Pastor Craig.