Think of how busy our lives can be. Walking round to the church from our flat in Caberfeidh Avenue can be a reminder of the pace of modern life. Don’t even think about crossing the main road at anywhere other than the pedestrian crossing or you take your life in your hands! In fact, twice recently I have crossed at the correct time, with the green man flashing, to be confronted by a vehicle which had jumped the lights. People are in such a hurry that sometimes lives are at risk. I often wonder if we were designed to cope with the pace of modern life and the amount of information that we have to process these days.
But cope, we must and prayer is an important aid but none the less difficult to focus on when our minds are so busy. Something I find helpful is to purposefully quieten the mind for prayer. For me personally this works best first thing in the morning before the day gets busy. Reflection on some scripture, such as in the traditional evangelical quiet time, is something I like to practice first thing. There are no hard and fast rules of when to do this but, regardless, we can practice quietening our minds at various times throughout the day because silence makes space for God to speak into our lives. We listen before we talk when we quieten our hearts.
John Calvin referred to the beautiful creation as ‘the theatre of God’s Glory’. Everything is created and, according to Eugene Peterson, ‘we take box seats in this creation theatre when we pray.’ The psalms proclaim the Majesty and Glory of God with use of many metaphors to help us express our wonder as observed from our ‘box seats.’ Yet, ‘humanity is reduced to silence when confronted with the majesty of God.’
Throughout the history of the church, silence has been practiced as an expression of Christian Spirituality. According to McGrath; …it liberates the mind and imagination to focus and centre on God’s living presence, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). To be silent is often seen as the precondition for effective prayer – which can be thought of as listening to God.
So, to come to prayer with stilled hearts and minds, in silence, effectively prepares us to hear from God who may speak into the silence. And when we do eventually speak, we speak out of the silence, more effectively, having heard from God.
The Jesus Prayer
A prayer that is often used in Greek Orthodox Christianity is known as ‘the Jesus Prayer.’ The school of thought known as ‘Hesychasm’ taken from the Greek word hesychia stresses the importance of inner silence in the Christian life in which the believer is isolated from all distractions in order to focus on God.
This process of quiet meditation is often linked with the Jesus Prayer based on the words spoken to Jesus by the blind man outside Jericho (Luke 18:38) who said, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me’. The prayer dates back to the 8th century but many people find its practice helpful today because basically, it is so simple. Repetition of the words can quieten the mind and prepare us to hear from God and to speak from the silence. If you have never tried it before you may be pleasantly surprised how even just a few moments taken to quieten your mind can improve your prayer life.
This Tuesday from around 6-8pm and Thursday from 10am-12noon, the crèche in Dingwall Baptist Church will be set aside as prayer space. Come and go as you please during these time slots to pray. If you want to post prayer points on the boards in the crèche then feel free to do so in order that we can all pray for these concerns. (These will not be published on the internet) There are also numerous prayer points in the church bulletin each week, copies of which will be available in the church welcome area.
If you cannot come into the church then, do not worry, pray when and where you can in your own time. However, whenever and wherever you pray, practice quietening your mind by use of the Jesus Prayer. Prior to saying anything repeat the words until you feel the quietness prevail:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.
(If this is too much outside your comfort zone you could repeat other lines of scripture or simply practice being quiet.)
From the quietness of your heart then pray as led by the Spirit. As well as the important prayer points in the bulletin and on the prayer boards remember also, ‘the theatre of God’s Glory’ and to ‘praise him from your box seat’.
 Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer, 2nd ed. (New York: Harper Collins Publishing, 1991), 71