A Terrible Monk
I have a place I like to go for prayer and silent reflection, however I rarely sit in this place for more than five minutes. The sacristy in my church is dark and quiet, it has a unique but peaceful aroma, a blend of candles, old albs, and wine. The sacristy has 2 rooms, the front room, which has a sink, cabinets, and closest where batteries and microphones are kept. It’s big enough for 5-6 people, and it is typically where the ushers bring the offering and where the acolytes get ready for service. Behind the front room of the sacristy, there a smaller room behind a heavy door. This is a room where we keep our vestments and where our senior pastor and I get ready for services. There is only closet, a small padded bench, and a mirror. The room is almost too small for two people. In the ceiling of the back room there is a skylight, which provides just the right amount of natural light. Aside from getting vested, or “albed up” as I prefer to call it, I only use this room to pray and sit in silence.
Keep in mind, I have two small kids, a full time job, a wife who works full time, and I take 3 courses a quarter at Fuller Seminary (I know…Boohoo). I only say this to highlight the fact that I NEVER sit still. In fact, I hardly ever do one thing at time. If I am not multi-tasking I feel like I am going to have a panic attack. In fact, I had a legitimate anxiety attack last year when I tried to take two weeks off work. I rarely sleep, I haven’t seen a movie in over two years, and really, I NEVER sit still. I am sure you can imagine the negative effects this has on my prayer life.
The other day I attempted to sit alone in silence for two hours and here is what I learned: the Holy Spirit speaks to us in silence, especially when we ask Him to. Since I never sit still, and I rarely pray without a sense of time urgency, I had forgotten what it was like to just go where the spirit leads.
It was amazing how many people came to mind to pray for, or how many things in my personal life that I became aware of, things I needed to speak to God about. Although two hours in silence was more than I could handle, I became fully aware of how beneficial this would be on a daily basis (perhaps a half hour in the morning). In the very least, I need to sit in silent reflection much more than I do now, which is basically never.
This practice, while obviously beneficial, is not something that contemporary culture, especially Christian culture, promotes. The church and its people (myself included) like to talk- rarely do we listen. I have never heard of a church that promotes this practice, nor do I know any pastors that do this regularly. I can only imagine what a profound impact this would have on individual lives and the life of the church. If our lives are supposed to be lived in obedience to God, than we should be listening to God. If we are supposed to be following God’s plan for our lives, than we need to hear what that plan is.