In this writer’s experience, most – nearly all – discussions of prayer include the necessity of silence – quietness – stillness – to know and recognize God’s presence. It is not a stillness that shuts off the mind from thought, but rather a time simply to set aside active thinking in the expectation of hearing and receiving the Almighty’s messages to us. Modern culture is very noisy and dominating. We need to cultivate sensitivity to what our minds are receiving and take control of it, when pushed in unproductive, unwanted, or negative directions.
Despite universal recognition of the role of silence in the spectrum of prayer, precious few sources actually expand concepts or methods of achieving it. Scripture tells us to “pray without ceasing.” In other words, it is central to true life. Silence can take the form of time spent apart, or be as simple as an inner listening pause to recognize the Almighty’s presence when considering an action or choice in day-to-day life.
This writer has been on a long venture to discover written experiences of others that confirm a personal time when Silence enabled life-changing patterns and a sense of the “new creation” promised to believers. I found that spending devoted quiet time was nothing to fear, was not a poor use of time, but rather the opposite: a time to shut down outer pressures, ask, seek, knock, listen, learn, receive guidance for day-to-day activities and knowing the right time to proceed or wait. Silence confirms the value of time, of our Being in God’s realm, of our human authenticity. It is deep assurance that God is available here and now, the One true reality. We can only give what we have received.
And yes, silence is a window into times of transition and spiritual growth.
This blog post is lengthy, but includes a reassuring quotation regarding times that do not seem to gel in life, despite dedication to prayer and knowing the Almighty. In short, such times can signal an immanent step in our ongoing spiritual maturing – the very substance of life.
Is not God the great silent force moving in and through all creation? If so, the moment we come into a sense of stillness we have actually become aware of the very first attribute of God–we have touched the hem of His garment. To acknowledge this sense of stillness as the very presence of God–which it is–is to take the first and most vital step toward actual revelation of further degrees of the divine nature, which lie beyond this hem of His garment, this outermost nature of the divine presence.
The ideas of yesterday are inadequate to meet the demands of a growing soul. No matter how great yesterday’s experience may have been, we should look forward each day in anticipation of still greater revelations. Sometimes, however, … we do not pass quickly over the transitional period; consequently we experience a depression. … Such periods are not only evidence that our former ideas have run their course, but are prophetic of a new cycle of experience, the dawn of a new creation in us, the herald of the next step in our spiritual growth. Instead of being times of despondency or discouragement, they should be times of keenest anticipation, of a new hope arising from the fact that we have arrived at the point of spiritual revelation. At such times one’s expectancy should be at its highest, for God is about to speak to one. At such moments in the future, let us look forward to a new revelation that shall, for another period of progress, be our very meat and drink.
– E. V. Ingraham, The Silence, 1922.