Signposts: Daily Devotions

Friday, August 8

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
—Matthew 6:6-8

What would it be like if we could ask God questions—and get answers!

I know many evangelical Christians who claim that God tells them things, that they get answers to prayers, questions, and queries. But personally, it never really works that way for me. When I try that method, I tend to make up the answers myself, and I tend to get rather demanding. Prayers start sounding like a wish list and questions revolve around me, not others.

Instead, my prayer life has gotten a lot quieter over the years. I have moved from a monologue with God to a conversation of silence. Sometimes I might get a hint of something in my time alone with the Creator, but most of the time, it’s just silence, like sitting in the room with a friend you’re so close to that you need not talk to be with one another.

At first, this type of contemplative prayer drove me crazy. Lots of thoughts ran my way, and typically I would run the path with them; my twenty minutes of silence was a rather active time. But with more practice, contemplative prayer started to open me to a place that I did not know existed. There is a place within us where God does pray, not so much with words, at least not audible ones, but in “sighs too deep for words.”

It’s there, in that place, where I start “hearing” God and recognizing God’s voice in my life. I don’t get clear answers to life’s questions. But I do encounter peace. Peace with not knowing the answer, peace with not knowing if someone will recover, peace with myself, my inability to comprehend, peace with God.

And I am finding that that’s the only answer I need. Peace.

Open my heart to your silence and help me be still and know that you are God. Amen.

The Signposts for August are written by Michael Sullivan and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.