A Practice of Quiet Listening
There are many physical and spiritual benefits of developing a practice of quiet but it’s often difficult to find the time or the space. Distractions abound for certain but I encourage you to make this a priority. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. The point of the practice is to quiet your mind, your body in order to draw near and nearer still to God. We aren’t often quiet and still. It doesn’t feel natural to just sit in quiet. But, it’s how we enter into the Lord’s presence. Below is the written guidance or you can access the podcast to guide you through a session of quiet.
Before you begin remember to be patient with yourself and accept that you’ll get interrupted or distracted. No worries! Just try to come back to the practice. If you’re not used to being in silence, I can guarantee it will feel completely uncomfortable and unproductive. If you go slow and start with 2 minutes of being in quiet and practice stilling your thoughts each day, you’ll find it becoming more natural and more desirable. Two minutes in silence will set you up for success!
To help you focus your thoughts at the start of the practice you might have a favorite bible verse on hand. When random thoughts start popping into your mind, use the verses or lines from a favorite chorus or hymn to help you refocus. Or, you can select a mental focal point, like the cross, to help you refocus. Sometimes it’s just not possible to get into a state of rest and stillness. Acknowledge it and leave the listening practice session without judgment. As you develop the practice of quiet listening, you may be surprised at the increase in the length of time you spend being with a quiet mind and body. Here’s the great thing, over time you will develop the practice to a point that you can be in the middle of your day but are able to take a brief time out, stilling your thoughts for a few moments in search of God’s voice and peace. When you are so busy you can’t catch your breath, simply taking 30 seconds is enough to help you re-adjust your focus and perceive God’s presence. He will provide and respond.
First, you’re going to set your mind focus, establish an open body position, and be fully present.
Find a comfortable seat such as a chair or sofa. Next let's set your mind focus. The importance of setting the mind is so you can bring yourself back to being fully present when thoughts and images distract and draw you away from your practice of quiet. For today’s practice, select a mental image of the cross. When you have the cross established in your mind’s eye, ask God to meet you here now.
With your focal image in place, draw your attention back to your body. Place your hands palms up on your thighs. Both feet should be flat on the floor. Let your shoulders drop down. Inhale slowly, exhale slowly. Inhale slowly, exhale slowly. Once again, draw attention to your shoulders letting them drop away away from the ears. Soften your face. Breathe. Inhale slowly, exhale slowly. Inhale. Exhale. Gentle open and close your mouth, relaxing your jaw. Give attention to your brow, let the tension leave your face. Breathe. Sense the rise and fall of your breath.
God is present. Be fully present with Him. Sweep away any thought tempting to draw you away. Move close to the cross, away from all else. See yourself at the foot of the cross. It’s a place of comfort. Know Jesus is beside you. You and Him here now. His presence with you, without judgment. Receive what He offers. Be in quiet mind and body for one to two minutes.
Now, take a deep breath.
How did it feel? Is there anything you experienced or saw in your mind’s eye during your quietness that you can take with you? Often, when I enter my practice of quiet listening, I leave feeling a comfort that I didn’t have before I started the practice. I am changed because I’ve set myself aside to intentionally be present with the Lord. Even when I don’t quite feel, hear or sense anything, I always thank God for His presence with me because that’s the truth—He is always with me. He is always with you.