Contemplative Prayer, Silence, and the Holy Spirit

When I was preparing what topic to share in my reflection, I knew immediately, that it must include the word “silence”. I have been drawn to this word for almost a year and half. Let me explain.

About four years ago, Deacon Karen initiated the Contemplative Prayer Ministry. I joined and attended this prayer group regularly and began to learn to pray with a contemplative heart. The intention of contemplative prayer is to begin with a centering prayer or meditation practice, picking a particular word, such as Yahweh, or Jesus, repeating that word over and over, while your mind is focusing on removing all outside distractions. This prepares yourself to sit still, listen for God’s voice and feel his presence. I find this type of prayer very spiritual. I also belong to a separate contemplative prayer group under Deacon Karen, wherein, six women are studying Bridges of Contemplative Living, with Thomas Merton. Thomas Merton, a well-known scholar, author and instructor to the contemplative life, wrote, ‘Contemplative living is a way of responding to our everyday experiences by consciously attending to our relationships. It deepens our awareness of our connectedness and communion with others, becomes a positive force of change in our lives. Ultimately, contemplative living leads us to a sense of well-being, profound gratitude, and a clearer understanding of our purpose in life.” Thomas Merton also wrote in his book, Thoughts in Solitude, “It is necessary that we find the silence of God not only in ourselves but also in one another.”

The word silence kept appearing and reappearing over and over in my mind for several weeks. I discussed this event with my contemplative group, and we concluded that it may be the Holy Spirit trying to get my attention. Even though this seemed unnatural, I do believe that the Holy Spirit was trying to convey to me that I was not hearing and understanding the message that I needed to be still, be silent, and read the Word of God. In Psalms 46:10, it is written: “Be still and know that I am God.” (NIV) Another writer of contemplation and silence is Father Richard Rohr, who leads a daily meditation series, Center for Action and Contemplation. In John 16:13, it is written: “The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth.” (NIV)

For me, my contemplative journey was becoming my solitude and silent time with the Holy Spirit. Ever since I first heard the word ‘silence’ I have felt more spiritually connected to the Holy Spirit. I not only was feeling the Holy Spirit’s presence in my contemplative groups, but I also was experiencing the Holy Spirit in our Women’s Bible Study as well. About a year ago, our monthly teaching was entitled, “A Study of the Holy Spirit.” It was a very enlightening class to many of the women and our quest to learn more about the Holy Spirit through the Bible and our personal experiences. Our Women’s Ministry has taken a totally new direction this semester. Not only are we reading and studying the Word of God, but we are learning how to unpack the scriptures, identifying the knowledge, truth, understanding, and comprehension through application and examination of the scriptures and how these lessons apply to our daily lives. I feel very blessed by all the spiritual lessons available to us at the Praise and Worship Center. Our adult education opportunities are fulfilling our spiritual growth.

We have experienced the worst of times for almost a full year now. We still worry about getting COVID, staying safe and careful around our families and friends, and being cautious in going out and about as usual. I feel these trying times have caused all of us to take pause, to re-evaluate how and what we need to change in our spiritual lives. As we begin our Lenten season on Ash Wednesday, remember to honor St. Francis in prayer and take advantage of following adult education classes during lent.

There is a wonderful song by Coffey Anderson entitled “Holy Spirit.” If you have the chance, pull it up on your phone or i-pad, it just may lift your spirits.