Being in silent prayer can at times be a struggle. Being alone and in silence leads us to feel lonely and empty. Being in quiet prayer can often seem as impossible as walking on water. It is not natural. It doesn’t make sense. It can even feel unsafe.
Recall with me the story of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-36). Let’s use our prayerful imagination to see if this can tell us something about being in silence with our God.
Jesus said, “Come.” (Matt 14:39a)
When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water it was at the invitation of Jesus. The same thing happens to us during our times of prayer. It is Jesus who invites us to enter into the quiet of our heart to spend intimate time with him.
Peter got out of the boat and began walking on the water. (Matt 14:39b)
When we enter times of prayer things usually start out okay. We have good intentions of emptying ourselves, making way for the Holy Spirit. And, for some time, we settle into the silence and are at prayer.
But…he became frightened and began to sink. (Matt 14:30a)
At times our fear of “walking on silence” can be stronger than Peter’s fear of walking on water. We sink because of distractions and disruptive thoughts. We get anxious and don’t trust that Jesus is with us in the silence.
Lord, save me. (Matt 14:30b)
Just like when Peter called out to Jesus for help when he began sinking, we too, can call out to Jesus for help when our prayer starts faltering. Once we focus back on Jesus and less on ourselves and recommit to silence, our fears will die down and the distractions will fade away.
In her book, In the Heart of the World, St. Teresa of Calcutta says that “in the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.” May you take courage and persevere in your times of silent prayer. Remember Jesus is with you when you are walking on silence.