Tag Archives: silence

Difficulty with Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting in pew

Difficulty with Meditation

I have difficulty with meditation sometimes. I can relate to these seminarians. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We need to turn our attention to the Confessing Church, representatives from a number of German churches who left the national church in 1934. (The national church was following Hitler’s agenda, increasingly, throughout the 1930’s.) The leadership of the Confessing Church sent for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935; he was in London at the time. The Confessing Church established a breakaway, Confessing seminary in Finkenwalde. [1]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected the seminarians to “devote a half-hour each morning to silent meditation on a Scripture text.” [2] This practice caused them great consternation and difficulties. They could not figure out how to make use of the time.

As I said, I can relate. It is sometimes difficult for me to meditate and pray for an extended period, at normal and usual times. I would consider half-hour stretches of time to be a longer amount of time.

The seminarians did a variety of things instead of meditation. Some would sleep, others daydreamed, still others worked on sermons, instead of meditating and praying. Bonhoeffer offered them a number of instructions on meditation and prayer, since he thought meditation was so important to seminarians as well as pastors. (I’ll include some of his suggestions for meditation and prayer here over the next number of days.)

Dear God, I know I ought to meditate on your words regularly. When I do, I almost always feel energized, sometimes relaxed, and never, ever bored. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the love of learning, the excitement of poring over the Scriptures. In Jesus’s name, the Word made flesh, Amen.




Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 21.

[2] Ibid, 22.

Solitude, Silence, and Paul Tournier

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Solitude, Silence, and Paul Tournier

Have I mentioned before about how fascinating this collection of writings was? This excerpt, especially so. Dr. Paul Tournier was a doctor, psychoanalyst, and intensely spiritual man, who lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland. He was interviewed in 1984, and his remarks were truly exceptional, simple, and profound.

I sense that Dr. Tournier was an intensely private person. (Yes, I did read one of his books, years ago, but I can’t remember for the life of me which one it was.) His responses were personal. I can tell that he was making himself available for all of us younger believers in God.

For example, the interviewer asked him to define silence. His answer: “For me, above all it is a waiting. I wait for God to stimulate my thoughts sufficiently to renew me, to make me creative instead of being what St. Paul calls ‘a tinkling cymbal.’” [1]

I see Dr. Tournier (in my mind’s eye) as sitting quietly, calmly, unflappable. I am not sure whether that is correct, but that is what I sense: “Under psychoanalysis, there is a moment when the subject feels silence weighing on him terribly. He longs for the doctor to say something to him. Silence has the power to force you to dig deep inside yourself.” [2]

Regularly, every day, Dr. Tournier meditated and prayed. That is impressive, no matter who accomplishes it. Thank you, doctor, for your understanding, for your patience, and for your silence. Truly, a gift.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er.


[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 161.


[2] Ibid.

Soul Creation—Nourish the Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SOUL beautiful soul

Soul Creation—Nourish the Soul

Another take on nourishing the Soul. Except, this way is expanding the Soul. This way is experiencing life, in every way. Matthew Fox suggests that “we must work on our souls, enlarging and expanding them. We do so by experiencing all of life—the beauty and the joy as well as the grief and pain.” [1]

This compilation, this book called Handbook for the Soul, offers a number of different aspects and attitudes towards expanding the inner workings of a person. And, with such a smorgasbord laid out for me, I can hardly choose. Perhaps, first one way on one day. Then, perhaps another way the next. And then, a third, and a fourth.

I could go on and on with these various approaches to nourishing and expanding the Soul. But I want to talk more about Fox’s way. He discusses soul work. How to do soul work? By experiencing life fully, deeply, in every way. In every facet.

Fox especially mentions silence and emptiness. Pain and suffering. Yes, sometimes there are great strides forward made at such times, in terms of soul work. In terms of strong emotion running rough shod all over a person, too.

The first thing I think of, when I read Fox’s suggestions, is why he said what he did.

When someone is presently going through some heavy emotion or deep, even raw feelings, sometimes it is wise to have someone to come alongside. Even though I may think I’m dealing with something manageable, things can always come up. Feelings, emotions, reactions, grief, sorrow, anger, grumbling, frustration. Joy, gratitude, relief. All kinds of feelings.

God willing, God will lead me to helpful prayers, nurturing exercises, and freeing meditation.


[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 151.


Day #16 – Turn It Off. Off the Hook. And Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 7, 2015

cell phone illustration

Day #16 – Turn It Off. Off the Hook. And Pray.

Have you ever attended a silent retreat?

I attended a Lenten silent retreat today. Wonderful. Restful. Soul-searching, too. The retreat focused on the Lord’s Prayer. However, God wanted to bring much more than that to me.

One of the retreat leaders, Jay (my marvelous spiritual director), told us we were to turn off our cell phones as we entered into the retreat time. Having some concerted time, all morning and all afternoon to concentrate on myself and my relationship with God, the last thing I needed was a telephone call. Even, a telephone text.

I had left my cell phone at home, since I knew how tempting it would be to check calls. Voicemails. Messages. Texts. Oh, how wonderful to be free of the rigors and bother of a cell phone! At least, for a few hours.

God did communicate several interesting matters to me. One was especially profound. As I went through the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer through the day, certain things surfaced. Questions I was asked included: Are there particular areas of your life in which you long to encounter God? How in your life are you aware of your need for God’s provision—both material and spiritual? For what do you need to seek God’s forgiveness? And, what personal obstacles or temptations are you encountering in life; in what ways have you taken these to God?

Today was a fruitful, peaceful time of encounter with God. Prayer, meditation, and resting in God.

And, yes. I also tried to follow today’s suggestion for #40acts. Being on the retreat only magnified (in a good way) the silence and stillness. And, I did not even notice the absence of the cell phone until the retreat was over.

I also found I was able to listen to God much more clearly. Leaving my cell phone at home? A great idea! For at least a little while.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Sound or Silence? God is with Us in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 10, 2015

GOD Draw near to God Jas 4-8

Sound or Silence? God is with Us in Prayer

Silence—and its polar opposite, noise. Rev. Howell says some penetrating things about both subjects. Like fearing silence, and being distracted by noise.

Do I fear silence, Lord? And, what about the opposite? I know I am so easily distracted by noise. (And pretty, shiny objects, too.)

I can vividly remember, in my teens and twenties, shying away from silence. I was often afraid of being alone. Yet, I also clung to God and was alone in the Heavenly presence. I started my relationship with God, my seeking to know God more intimately, in those decades. I can also remember some significant times of prayer and communion with God, in those decades.

Often, even now, I avoid silence, avoid self-reflection and self-discovery. I know—intellectually—that God knows me more intimately than I can possibly know myself, yet I can be afraid. As Howell says, we can be “afraid that God might just disturb us, afraid that God might really take us somewhere we prefer not to go.” [1] (40)

God willing, may God guide and guard us always, wherever we may travel in life.

Alleluia, amen!


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN: 2003), 40.

Waiting in silence

A few days ago, one of the passages I meditated on in prayer was the beginning of Psalm 62. I don’t always pray with a specific passage of Scripture in mind, but recently I’ve been using a method of prayer called Benedictine Rumination. (ruminating or chewing repetitively on Scripture—I’ll have to talk more about that, soon)

I was struck by the first part of the first verse of Psalm 62. “For God alone my soul waits in silence.” Wow. I’ll say it again. Wow!

Sometimes, when I encourage my mind, body and spirit to enter into prayer, I feel myself sinking into prayer. This particular prayer time was one of those times. Leaving behind the hurry, the hustle and bustle, the noise, everything distracting or worrisome. I felt a welcome from God, and the gentle silence. Open, friendly, peaceful presence.

Sadly, I was not able to stay there during the whole prayer time. However, I had experienced it for part of it. I knew it was there. I was able to tap into that warm presence, that gentle silence, for some of the time. I really needed it! I sure could use it on a regular basis, God!

I understand that silence is something that makes some people uncertain. Even anxious. Not me. (that is, usually) But I have a difficult time getting there. Your warm, gracious welcoming arms are waiting for me, I know. Thanks for being there. And thanks for being warm and welcoming, instead of cold and distant.

Let’s pray. Dear God, sometimes it’s difficult to enter into prayer, much less break into Your gentle silence. Please help me to leave worry, anxiety and hurry behind. Forgive me for focusing on sad things, angry feelings, and hurt places in my life. I know Your presence is waiting. Thanks for making Your warm, gracious silence available, any time I need it. Any time I want it. Thanks, God. Amen.