29
Jul

Slow Reader Friday: Be Still…

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Last night the eldest called and reported that, for a rather monumental birthday soon, he is going camping…alone. Yes, totally alone. Why? Because when looking at Jesus’ example, he noted that He often went away from the crowds and spent time in solitude. The eldest thinks he needs to do the same to find a better, closer relationship with the Lord.

Be still, my heart! An answered prayer, for sure. So, it is probably not coincidence at all that the MIP July 2016 Book Club Selection is entitled Be Still by Jane Vennard.

As I’ve mentioned before in my spring 2016 posts, God doesn’t usually speak when we are distracted. In 21st century America we are constantly distracted, except maybe when we’re asleep. And unfortunately for us, it’s often difficult to experience God while asleep, unless we have prophetic dreams like those described in the Bible.

Thus, we need silence. And because of the many distractions we now have, one of the few ways we can encourage and “grow our silent time” is to go on retreat. Vennard’s book explains both why this is important and how to create prayer retreats that focus on being still and being quiet.

We Americans are uncomfortable with silence, as a rule. We are so accustomed to noise that we no longer even notice it. Right now, as I type this with the TV, radio and music off, I can still hear 5 sounds! I can hear my ceiling fan both rattling (because it needs to be tightened up!) and whirring and I can hear the AC and the gentle clatter of me typing on my keyboard. And my breathing sometimes makes a sound, probably because my allergies are acting up!

Where I am typing is also close to a road. So, it wouldn’t be unusual to hear outdoor noises, such as a car going by (as it just did!) and roofer noises from the neighbor getting a new roof!

Thus, when we go to a remote place, and we switch off the phone and just sit, we often start fidgeting. Even if we manage to sit still, we often want to manipulate God’s communication with us. Of course, this is foolish! And if you are anything like me, you assume that God can only communicate by talking to us through our thoughts. In reality I have learned, in the last year, that God can give me sensations and visions and that ALL of that is Him communicating.

How do I know that it’s God communicating and not just me or some evil entity talking? (I get asked this a lot!) Practice. More than likely if you’ve never experienced God communicating, He’ll give you a little “taste” of that unseen world by answering a heartfelt question or giving you a sensation or a vision that you KNOW just can’t be anyone else other than God. The first time it happened to me it DEFINITELY did not sound like something that came from head! It even involved this blog and yes, I blogged about the experience.

After that experience I just got crazy excited to have more of that in my life–it’s freaking awesome! Enter Heartpaths and the reason why I read Be Still and other recommended books from Year 1 of this 3-year program.

Did I know that studying prayer was going to lead to more “revelations” from God? No. But since we are to communicate with God via prayer, it makes sense that He would communicate back this way. However, we Americans like to dominate “the prayer conversation” and not allow God to enter into that conversation–it’s more like a soliloquy for most of us!

I thought that there were only a few ways to pray. Wrong! Having studied and practiced a handful of them now, I’m learning to recognize “God thoughts” from “MaryAnn thoughts.”

Vennard not only discusses why we need contemplation in our lives, but also how to design retreats that encourage contemplation and teach various prayer techniques. In addition she outlines designing retreats so that people have breaks periodically, avoiding the typical problems associated with such retreats, and promoting them successfully.

Vennard begins the book with an enticing story about a church that began with two people simply wanting to start a centering prayer group in their church and how that small group became a whole new ministry that completely transformed the church. At one point there was even a rift between two groups of church members and they “prayed their way” through that rift and became a cohesive unit again through simply seeking the Lord.

Be Still makes me want to give such a gift to my own congregation and normally, I would charge forth, confident that I could do this all by myself. What hubris!

But after a year of reading, praying and experiencing God’s communication, I now prefer to spend a considerable amount of time praying with my minister and others on how best to bring this to my church and to have as many people involved in planning it as possible. I welcome suggestions by others who may be more knowledgeable than I.

I think a prayer, contemplation and silence revolution is on the way. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, if you ask me. Want to join the revolution? Let me know by posting a comment below or sending me an email here. Then get busy and read Be Still🙂

Monday’s Post: What is the definition of the WOW?

You Might Also Like: August 2016 Book Club and Slow Reader Friday: SoulTypes

This entry was posted on Friday, July 29th, 2016 at 1:40 pm and is filed under Slow Reader Friday. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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