Down through the ages of Christian history there has been a practice of prayer designed to draw us into a deeper place in Christ. Many saints and prophets taught this kind of deeper life in the secret place with Him.
There are three well-established practices designed to lead us into this depth of prayer — often referred to as the prayer of rest. This is Bridal intimacy in the secret place with Him. These points are taken from notes by James Goll, and are to be found in much of the literature on the deeper life in Christ. Let’s look briefly at the practices that will lead us into this place of deep prayer:
A. Solitude – Step One
1. Mark 1:35 “And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose and went out to a lonely place and there He prayed.”
2. Matthew 6:6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
3. Dallas Willard – The Spirit of the Disciplines:
“We must re-emphasize the ‘desert’ or ‘closet’ is the primary place of strength for the beginner, as it was for Christ and for Paul. They show us by their example what we must do. In stark aloneness, it is possible to have silence, to be still, and to know that Jehovah, indeed, is God (Psalm 46:10), to set the Lord before our minds with sufficient intensity and duration that we stay centered upon Him – our hearts fixed, established in trust (Psalm 112:7-8) even when back in the office, shop, or home.”
4. Fenelon – The Seeking Heart:
“If you give up all those things that provoke your curiosity and set your mind spinning, you will have more than enough time to spend with God and to attend to your business. Living your life prayerfully will make you clear-headed and calm, no matter what happens. Your self-nature is overactive, impulsive and always striving for something just outside your reach.
“But God, working within your spirit, produces a calm and faithful heart that the world cannot touch. I really want you to take an adequate amount of time to spend with God so that you might refresh your spirit. All your busy-ness surely drains you.
“Jesus took His disciples aside to be alone, and interrupted their most urgent business. Sometimes He would even leave people who had come from afar to see Him in order to come to His Father. I suggest you do the same. It is not enough to give out – you must learn to receive from God, too.”
B. Silence – Step Two
This kind of silence has been called: “stilling creaturely activity.”
1. Quote from Dallas Willard – Author and Professor:
“Hearing is said to be the last of our senses to go at death. Sound always strikes deeply and disturbingly into our souls. So, for the sake of our souls, we must seek times to leave our television, radio, tape players, and telephones off. We should close off street noises as much as possible. We should try to find how quiet we can make our world by making whatever arrangements are necessary.”
2. Quote from Richard Foster – Author and Teacher:
“This agitated creaturely activity hinders the work of God in us.
In silence, we still every motion that is not rooted in God. We become quiet, hushed, motionless, until we are finally centered. We let go of all distractions until we are driven into the core. We allow God to reshuffle our priorities and eliminate unnecessary froth. This means not so much a silence of words as a silence of our grasping, manipulative control of people and situations. It means standing firm against our codependency, drives to control everyone and fix everything.”
C. Focus – Step Three
This means coming into tranquility of mind, heart, and spirit.
Isaiah 30:15 “In repentance and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.”
- Practice Focused Attention – Turn your inward eyes upon Jesus
- Let Go – Let go of all that keeps our attention, and direct it all toward Jesus
- Open up – Open your heart, mind, soul to Him, let Him pour His life into you; through you
- Let Him Flow — Let His thoughts, mind, heart begin to flow into and through you
D. A Necessary Spiritual Practice
We are talking about a spiritual discipline. But it is not simply an empty practice. Spiritual discipline is necessary to our souls in the same way that physical dicipline is necessary if we hope to achieve any worthy physical effort. In the same way our spirits and souls must be exercised in prayer and stillness before God. This is the preparation that we need, in order to be able to hear and to obey — to do what God is calling us to.
It must be emphasized that this is not a self-effort. God will do His part if we are mindful to do our part. In the same way I must participate in the practice of the prayer of rest, but I cannot make any part of it happen by my own effort. In the midst of this tension between my effort and God’s work in my life, God is faithful to take us deeper into relationship, deeper into ourselves, and deeper into Himself – into His presence, His power and His purposes.