The hardest thing to do in silent prayer is to discipline your mind. We are very used to being over stimulated and to have that TV remote mentality, if you’re allowed to hold it of course (!!), of channel hopping. Culturally we have built into ourselves an almost pathological inability to sit still. It’s not only children who have ADHD, it is part and parcel of how we’re taught to think and to tick but the big difference is, is that at least these children have medication to help them. Silent prayer is medication for your soul.
However, you will be glad to know that focussing on your breathing and disciplining your mind is not the heart of silent prayer, they are merely the keys to help us open the door into the vast open space that is silent prayer. The point of the keys is not that we focus on them but on what is behind the door they open. It is this vast open space that is the focus of silent prayer itself.
The first step in this journey of discovery is to lengthen your time in prayer. Before you panic let me reassure you that what I am thinking of is five minutes top. Again for the first two minutes focus on your breathing and disciplining your mind. Allow yourself to s-l-o-w down. Allow yourself to become unhurried and unconcerned about what is happening around you; after all, it is only five minutes.
For the next three minutes you will need to use your imagination. I would like you to imagine that Jesus is with you and that he has placed his hand on you. He isn’t saying anything (yet), he is just there sitting/standing/kneeling with you. He is just enjoying your company, your taking time to be still with him without saying anything to him. How often have you prayed to Jesus without saying or asking anything of him? I know we’re encouraged to approach and to ask of him, but in silent prayer the point is to enjoy his company with you, his presence beside you, his love for you, his laughter by you, his peace in you, his calm over you and his assurance under you.
As you can see there is a lot more to discover and we will be thinking about this in the weeks to come. But have you twigged the really, really exciting thing? The element of silent prayer where we focus on the presence of Jesus with us is not something we only do when we think formally ‘I’m going to pray, now’. It is something we can do whenever and wherever we are and probably, it is something you do anyway. So when you’re out for your permitted exercise use it also an opportunity for silent prayer, for being aware of the presence of Jesus as you walk along.