As an extrovert I find that I need and savor a time to be still, it is an important aspect of my life which helps balance the excited outward flow of my energy. Because of this, I treasure my times of prayer and stillness. One of my favorite prayers is:
“O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. “
Yet this prayer of inward movement and celebration of the quiet peace with God is not the end of prayer, but rather the entryway into the place where I can be still with God. Eventually I need to listen, to pay attention and hear again the noise and activity of the world around me. Hearing these again after entering the still place helps me to hear these sounds not as bothersome but rather as the sounds of our life’s blessing.
The sound of an ambulance and police siren going by might have been a grating headache at one time, but from the stillness it becomes a pausing point when I can stop my thoughts and offer a prayer for those in need, to be more connected with the larger world of which I am a member.
When I am trying to go to sleep and rest at night I want it to be quiet and still, and from that comes my time of rest. But the rest is to lead me into the next day, a day in which I can start over, refreshed and thankful. Without the rest I become dazed and delirious with the chaos of the world. With the rest I become functional and supportive to the efforts of life’s loves and healing. Sleep is a great metaphor or example of the stages of prayer. We do not remain sleeping, as we do not remain in our stillness of prayer. This prayer ends, “that I might know that thou art God”; I find that experience of God in the sounds, sights, and relationships that I originally fled from when I entered my time of prayer.