Silence and Solitude

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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.


Now, when all of the above has been done you will find that you are still plagued by internal distractions. There is much to learn about what to do about internal distractions. Dealing with distractions, Getting Started in Contemplation and the concept of Centering Prayer.