“The fruit of silence is prayer,
the fruit of prayer is faith,
the fruit of faith is love,
the fruit of love is service,
the fruit of service is peace.”
This quote, I believe, sums up what I want to talk about in my articles dealing with prayer and hearing the voice of God. The first thing we must take note of is this: We cannot truly begin the spiritual life until we learn to love silence. Mother Teresa is very clear that the beginning of the spiritual life is silence. Silence is where prayer begins. Resting with the Lord in silence every day is absolutely necessary for anyone who wishes to come to know the living God.
my last article
I mentioned that we like to be in control, to see where we are going. We also like to be distracted! The famous French philosopher Blaise Pascal once remarked, “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
We love distraction. We welcome it because it helps us forget about our problems and our need for change. If we can stay distracted, we never have to hear that voice of God calling us to change—we can just live a life of mediocrity and continue to shy away from greatness.
We do this is a variety of ways: from the young teenager who never takes off his head phones or stops playing his video games, to the mother that constantly is preoccupied with her children, to the father who works his life away. Life becomes a constant distraction.
C.S. Lewis has a marvelous clarity about the danger of distraction and how the devil loves to use it to snuff out the voice of God. His demonic protagonist writes in
The Screwtape Letters
“Silence — how I detest it! …No square inch of hell and no moment in hell has been surrendered to that abominable force, but all has been occupied by Noise — Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, and ruthless. …We will make the whole universe a noise in the end.”
How are we to get into silence with all the distractions of the world? We must make it a priority! We must make a concrete choice each day to experience silence and avoid distraction. St. Francis DeSales remarked, “every Christian must pray at least half an hour a day unless you are busy then you must pray an hour!”
The more we have going on in our life, the more we need silence. At first this silence will be painful and cluttered, you will be distracted because you have been distracted for a long time. Stick with it and trust me that it is the only way to hear that whispering voice of almighty God. Unless you take this first principle seriously, you will never hear the voice of God! (For more clarity on this principle I invite you to pray through 1 Kings 19:1-12.)
Fr. Waltz is director of vocations for the Bismarck Diocese. His column, “Into the Deep,” which will be written quarterly, will discuss topics on prayer and discernment. He currently resides at St. Joseph’s Hall on the campus of the University of Mary in Bismarck.