What Silent Prayer Is, and Isn’t
When we think about prayer, what comes to mind is some kind of request or solicitation of God. Maybe we are ill and ask to get better, or ask forgiveness, or maybe a little help with the lottery. These are the kinds of prayers that we mostly engage in.
We might also repeat a mantra, for example, the “Our Father,” or Hail Mary” as an act of devotion or contrition. Then there are the holy thoughts about God, heaven, the saints and Jesus as we sit quietly. Or, we might thank God for something good that has happened to us and ask for protection from the bad. These are all prayers of thanks, worship, appeals and requests, but they are not silent prayer.
To understand the power of silent prayer, one has to understand conventional prayer. Conventional prayer involves a relationship between the pray-or and the one prayed to. “I need help, and I am asking for you to give it to me.” Thus, you are “here,” asking for help, and help is “up there.” There are two involved in the relationship; you and God.
Because two are involved, if one of them isn’t silent, there can be no mutual communication. Both can’t be talking at the same time and hope to communicate. This is the case of conventional prayer; it is the pray-or that is making all the noise and God must necessarily be quiet. Even when the pray-or stops praying, his or her mind is still going a mile a minute with no let up and God still has no crack in the busy-ness of the pray-ors mind to be heard. So it’s all one way, the pray-ors way, and lets face it; the pray-or doesn’t know what he or she is doing, or whether their requests will play out as blessings or curses.
It’s not like God (if He could get a word in edgewise), would say, “Yo! Hey you. Do this, do that. Go here, go there.” It’s more like a subtle calling or urge and subject to interpretation. The problem with conventional prayer, however, is that the pray-or is completely caught Silencil up in his or her own thoughts 24/7, and the “urge” can as easily be a calling from the devil as a direction from God! Even an expert can seldom tell the difference because the advice, which is really coming from the pray-ors mind, and which arguably, as such, could be called the devil, usually takes the pray-or down a rocky road regardless of how good it sounds up front.
Silent prayer takes into account all these things, especially the untrustworthiness of thought. Thought can cause all kinds of mischief for us. Of course, thought is a problem solver as well and can make our life more comfortable, but it also can take us down the wrong track spiritually because thought builds ego, which is the antithesis of God.
Ego is an idea of ourselves that must be reinforced or else it weakens. When it begins to weaken it feels threatened and does everything that it can to rebuild itself. This takes a toll on us throughout our lifetime because it is a constant stress upon our minds. There is little room for God to speak to us when we are so busy with ourselves, simply because our minds are so filled with thoughts of ourselves at all times