Years ago Sandra and I were at a retreat center in Malaysia for a conference. Each morning a visitor would sit outside the glass doors of the prayer room and listen to the praying. We greeted him, tried to make conversation, but got zero response. We later learned why. The man was on a spiritual pilgrimage that included a vow of silence.
Seclusion and silence are uncommon disciplines in today’s life in the fast lane. Could we benefit from occasionally leaving the busy highway to be quiet and alone, with no agenda other than to ponder the Lord and hear his voice? Absolutely. But the bigger challenge is learning to quieten our inner noise while still on the highway. The sights, sounds and circumstances we are exposed to in a ‘normal’ day can drag our hearts from one end of the feelings-spectrum to the other, and keep our minds racing with activity. The end of the work day doesn’t necessarily mean an end to inner noise. We’ve become so accustomed to living with noise that we fill our recreation times with lots more of it through social media and entertainment. Unrest becomes the order of the day…. unless we plan a different journey, one in which we learn right seeing.
We know the Lord is with us constantly, but unless we practice seeing him the truth makes little difference to our journey. A few days ago someone asked me what area of prayer I want to grow in most. This is it – the Acts 2:25* prayer lifestyle, where seeing the Lord (and responding) is worked into the being and doing of each day…..more and more.
Awareness of the Lord’s constant presence is a big comfort, but the truth has a much larger lifestyle impact. All of life and work, even the simple routines of sitting down to a snack or pouring a coffee, are done in and unto him.* Our big learning challenge is to see him in the day’s chaotic journey, not just at the breakfast start or bedtime end.
The Present One wants to be our primary view; to be seen at all times. By default, our seeing tends to focus on the bustle of this moment, the one we passed through or the one we’re heading for. The activities and issues on the highway fill our awareness, and the truth of Presence is inadvertently parked in a side-street, often forgotten until our next scheduled prayer time or church meeting. If we are to quieten (or filter) our inner noise for a journey in rest, the seeing of the Lord must become the frame for doing life. The Colossians chapter three call to anchor the heart and mind “above”*(on Christ) wasn’t written to an isolated group of monastics, but to ordinary men and women busy with daily life and work. It was written with us in mind.
The next post: more about right seeing, and how association points can help us in the prayer growth journey.
*I saw the Lord always before me (from Ps 16:8) *1 Cor 10:31, Col 3:23 *Col 3:1-3