In my mind’s eye I imagine small sailing boats drifting down the river. Each boat represents a distraction or an errant thought, making a brief appearance before me and then continuing down the river.
I also imagine clouds floating through a clear, blue sky. Each of the clouds takes the shape of a different worry or concern and I try to let them float in and out of my mind.
These mental games are part of my practice of silent prayer. Silent prayer is a spiritual discipline that I’ve recently been trying to work into my life. I’ve been told that silent prayer involves silence and listening. Instead of praying by talking to God, silent prayer is focused on hearing from God and responding to what he says.
My little mental games are just ways of keeping distractions from derailing my silent prayer time. I imagine any distraction as boat or a cloud and let them simply pass through my mind. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the clouds take really crazy shapes and sometimes the boats look more like aircraft carriers than sailboats.
Clearing our minds of those distractions, though, can really create the silence necessary to hear from God. We live very loud lives and even finding a silent place can be difficult, much less creating silence in our hearts and our minds. When we can, though, we may actually hear God speak into our lives.
As I was practicing silent prayer yesterday, I heard God tell me that normal prayer is a “Dear God” prayer and silent prayer is a “Dear Scott” prayer. For me silent prayer is a “Dear Scott” prayer because it gives God space to speak into my life. For you, silent prayer could be a “Dear Your Name Here” prayer. It’s important to bring our requests, confession and honor to God in our “Dear God” prayers. But it’s just as important to allow God to speak truth, comfort and insight into our lives.
I’m definitely not an master of silent prayer. I’m not even a Padawan; I’m just a youngling. I definitely suggest you check out the blog of my Yoda, Doug, and this post in particular. He wouldn’t call himself a master of silent prayer, but he’s figured out a lot more than I have.
God wants to speak into our lives but we’ll only hear him if we create that space. Fitting some “Dear Scott” prayers into our lives, or whatever your name is, might be a great way to do that.
What experience, if any, do you have with silent prayer?