These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.
Silence and Solitude
When Jesus told His followers to “enter into their prayer closets” to pray, what did He mean? In the monastic tradition prayer was (and is) usually conducted in silence and solitude.
The first step is to minimize external distractions. Usually that means finding a location or activity that is free of interruptions. A prayer closet, a prayer room, chair, etc. Some people pray in their car, but please, not while driving. If you tell me that you are practicing contemplative prayer in your shower then I want to see your water bill.
The next step is to do things like turn off your phone, clear your schedule, have your children attended to by others, etc. In short, arrange things as best you can to remove interruptions and distractions.
Now, you will discover that when external distractions are removed you begin to have new experiences. Sometimes you may feel peaceful and rested. But usually you will discover that you have an inner world that has been making a lot of noise. The quieter we make our external world the noisier becomes our internal world.
Sometimes you will have appropriate distractions. For example, you may remember that you have to do this or that as soon as you are done praying. Well, you may have to interrupt your praying to write yourself a reminder note about some duty. You may have to get up and do something you forgot to do. Fine. Get everything done, clear your books and return to prayer.
One problem is that we want. and expect, that if we enter into in silence we will “hear” God. We expect a sense of peace, or beauty. But most people are not able to easily sense God when they place themselves in silence. However, the truth is that any time someone steps away to seek God they have already entered a Holy Space. God is present, and connected, but they can’t sense it. So, the first thing that you have to do is ask yourself if you believe God is present. Many times a person will have to decide to continue contemplative prayer based on faith. That is, a person will have to eventually say to God something like this: “I believe you are present because I have come to Jesus and he said that he will allow me to come to your throne of grace.”
Thus a person should persist in seeking even without an immediate sense of God. With time, their faith grows and they begin to realize that God is present; and transformation begins to occur. Their lives begin to improve.
As a person continues in the discipline of silent prayer he/she will usually begin to encounter painful memories. Next week we will begin to look at how painful memories and painful realizations about who you are can lead to inner healing, purification and transformation.