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Author Topic: Meeting God in the quiet - Confused  (Read 776 times) Average Rating: 0
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littlepilgrim64
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« on: June 10, 2014, 11:02:07 PM »

In a recent discussion I had with Father (at the church I've been visiting), I told him that I made time for morning and evening prayer using "A Pocket Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians".  He further suggested that I take time daily and sit in the quiet and just "be" in the presence of the Lord and listen for Him. So many external distractions hinder me (ex. hearing a neighbor's dog barking in the distance) as well as internal thoughts/images and it is very difficult to shake them all and return to the quiet. 

I'm confused . . . am I to be completely silent for my part during all of this and just try to mentally push away these distractions or if a distraction comes to mind do I speak to the Lord about it (and ask forgiveness if necessary)? How does one know when the Lord is speaking to them?  I am so used to solely relying on "hearing from God" through reading Scripture. This is all new to me.
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2014, 11:25:05 PM »

Hesychasm is a predominate part of Orthodoxy. Withdrawing from the world and attempting solitude even for a short time is a first step in that.  It is often accompanied by saying the Jesus Prayer.  I will admit that I fail miserably in this regard.  I am one of those people that usually have a radio, TV, computer and phone going all at the same time.  It is a good reminder that you priest gave.  God speaks to us in the stillness.
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2014, 11:31:05 PM »

The Jesus prayer
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2014, 11:45:44 PM »

He further suggested that I take time daily and sit in the quiet and just "be" in the presence of the Lord and listen for Him. So many external distractions hinder me (ex. hearing a neighbor's dog barking in the distance) as well as internal thoughts/images and it is very difficult to shake them all and return to the quiet. 

I'm confused . . . am I to be completely silent for my part during all of this and just try to mentally push away these distractions or if a distraction comes to mind do I speak to the Lord about it (and ask forgiveness if necessary)? How does one know when the Lord is speaking to them?  I am so used to solely relying on "hearing from God" through reading Scripture. This is all new to me.


I would simply ask your priest these questions and see if he can help guide you a bit more.  But FWIW, yes, I think he means for you to quiet yourself and be still.  Distractions will come, but just let them go as they came, without engaging them too much one way or the other.  Simply be quiet and be still and be conscious that you are in God's presence and God is in yours.  That might seem like a "waste of time", and in a way it is...it's time wasted with God.  But no time spent with God is really wasted, it is an opportunity for us to receive grace.  And the effort required to do all this well is actually much more than is required to read prayers out of a book, so it is, in a sense, sacrificial. 

As for how to know when the Lord is speaking to us, I can't help you.  I have trouble figuring that out myself, with or without a Bible. 
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2014, 11:57:30 PM »


Distractions do keep us from hearing God.

We are so preoccupied all the time, on our computers, our cellphones, radio is on when driving, talking to someone, etc.  We seldom are silent these days.

Seriously...not only do we not "talk" with God, we don't even talk with ourselves.  We have no time to actually contemplate something, or thing about anything.  We always distract ourselves with music, TV, news reports, etc.

Silence is blessed.  Next time you are in the car, don't turn on the radio.  Just drive in silence and be amazed just how much thinking you can get done before you reach work, or the shopping mall, or the school.

How can we possibly hear God over all the din we have created in our lives?  It's impossible.

So, yes....if you can, set aside a few minutes and start with prayer....and then just sit.  Relax....and it will come to you with time.

How do you know if your thoughts are from God?  That's easy.  If the thought or idea works towards the glory of God, or if He would be pleased by the action, or if it is positive for your soul, good for the world, etc....then it is most likely God directing you.  Have faith.  He will guide you.

Silence is golden.
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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2014, 12:31:59 AM »



We are so preoccupied all the time, on our computers, our cellphones, radio is on when driving, talking to someone, etc.  We seldom are silent these days.

How do you know if your thoughts are from God?  That's easy.  If the thought or idea works towards the glory of God, or if He would be pleased by the action, or if it is positive for your soul, good for the world, etc....then it is most likely God directing you.  Have faith.  He will guide you.

Silence is golden.


Great advice! Thanks!
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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2014, 02:19:51 AM »

When I am driving to work, I turn off the radio, and just say, "Lord have mercy," silently to myself, over and over again. It keeps my mind calm and peaceful so my brain doesn't take over with endless, circular thoughts. When I arrive, I feel at peace and my mind is clear.
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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2014, 09:18:58 AM »

Good morning all  Smiley

Admittedly, I have more of a "Martha" personality with a lot of nervous energy and feel like I need to be doing something all of the time so I guess spiritually, in my present state, it is "easier" for me to read books, read the Bible, pray with my prayerbook than to sit at the Lord's feet and be quiet and listen, as the Bible says Mary did. It also says the Mary "chose what is better" (Luke 10:42). I recognize this in myself, which makes the time sitting in the quiet before the Lord (as you remarked, Mor Ephrem) seem like I'm just "wasting time" to my human understanding, but I am just continuing with it. I usually open this time by praying something like, "Lord, I'm so distracted and I don't understand all of this, but have mercy on me and come meet with me here and help me to hear from You."

As an aside . . .TV and internet are distractions for me.  I moved to a new apartment about two months ago and decided on purpose not to have TV hooked up.  I will watch the local news in the evening livestream online, but that's it. Now I'm working on curbing my internet surfing to where it is more balanced, with the Lord's help.  Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2014, 09:56:28 AM »

Good morning all  Smiley

Admittedly, I have more of a "Martha" personality with a lot of nervous energy and feel like I need to be doing something all of the time so I guess spiritually, in my present state, it is "easier" for me to read books, read the Bible, pray with my prayerbook than to sit at the Lord's feet and be quiet and listen, as the Bible says Mary did. It also says the Mary "chose what is better" (Luke 10:42). I recognize this in myself, which makes the time sitting in the quiet before the Lord (as you remarked, Mor Ephrem) seem like I'm just "wasting time" to my human understanding, but I am just continuing with it. I usually open this time by praying something like, "Lord, I'm so distracted and I don't understand all of this, but have mercy on me and come meet with me here and help me to hear from You."

As an aside . . .TV and internet are distractions for me.  I moved to a new apartment about two months ago and decided on purpose not to have TV hooked up.  I will watch the local news in the evening livestream online, but that's it. Now I'm working on curbing my internet surfing to where it is more balanced, with the Lord's help.  Smiley

Like you, I'm more Martha than Mary; I've always been like this. 

One of the things that has helped me achieve more of a balance is weekly long country road rides on my Stella scooter.  I eschew plugging in the headphones and listening to a podcat or music and just ride, the only noise being the white noise of the air zipping past my ears.  I've had some pretty important conversations with God on such occasions and it's helped me to be able to do such when I'm not on my bike.  Oftentimes I do feel like I'm "wasting" time by not learning something or listening to music, but, as Mor pointed out, time with God is never wasted.  Life is pretty hectic by default in most of 21st century urban (and suburban) America and we all, Christian and non-Christian, need to learn to slow down and just "be," even if its just for a few minutes a day.  If I can do it, so can you. 

God go with you. Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2014, 02:49:40 PM »

One of the things that has helped me achieve more of a balance is weekly long country road rides on my Stella scooter.  I eschew plugging in the headphones and listening to a podcat or music and just ride, the only noise being the white noise of the air zipping past my ears.  I've had some pretty important conversations with God on such occasions and it's helped me to be able to do such when I'm not on my bike. 

And to think of all the money I've spent on icons, books, and prayer ropes.  All I needed to do was buy a scooter!   Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2014, 03:01:18 PM »

One of the things that has helped me achieve more of a balance is weekly long country road rides on my Stella scooter.  I eschew plugging in the headphones and listening to a podcat or music and just ride, the only noise being the white noise of the air zipping past my ears.  I've had some pretty important conversations with God on such occasions and it's helped me to be able to do such when I'm not on my bike.  

And to think of all the money I've spent on icons, books, and prayer ropes.  All I needed to do was buy a scooter!   Smiley

One can always take a walk outside, but I find it best to pray in the bedroom where I feel safe. Because of mountain lions, coyotes, bears and foxes in our neighborhood, I hear every leaf blowing in the wind and wonder.

Oh, did I mention that we do have a resident mountain lion who visits us almost daily? Our neighbors have seen him sitting on our driveway. He feels home here. Indeed, he seems to sit by our bedroom bathroom window while we chant the Canon to the Theotokos.
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« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2014, 03:06:03 PM »


Have any of the animals ever actually attacked anyone?

We have coyotes in our area.  They are "new".  I'm sure they were here before people showed up.....but, they've been gone for a long time, and are only now returning.  They show up in the middle of day sometimes.  I can hear them yapping at night.....however, for some reason I still wonder out at night and don't really fear them.
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« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2014, 03:13:15 PM »


Have any of the animals ever actually attacked anyone?

We have coyotes in our area.  They are "new".  I'm sure they were here before people showed up.....but, they've been gone for a long time, and are only now returning.  They show up in the middle of day sometimes.  I can hear them yapping at night.....however, for some reason I still wonder out at night and don't really fear them.

Yes, coyotes have snatched babies and toddlers even with the parents nearby. If they are part of a pack, they can become more bold. We had a mother coyote and her litter in our front yard hiding in the bushes.

Mountain lions have attacked and killed, but authorities say that is because they are diseased.

Whenever I venture outside, I am very attentive and pray unceasingly. We bang on garbage cans to make some noise to chase the beast away. We have seen his legs as he spins in a cloud of dust to run away from us. That is a good sign.  Oh flashlights are not a good idea as both big and little cats like to play with the beam of light.

In the meantime, his presence actually encourages us to pray more devoutly. It reminds me of Narnia, where the Lion is a figure of Christ.
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« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2014, 11:50:30 PM »

One of the things that has helped me achieve more of a balance is weekly long country road rides on my Stella scooter.  I eschew plugging in the headphones and listening to a podcat or music and just ride, the only noise being the white noise of the air zipping past my ears.  I've had some pretty important conversations with God on such occasions and it's helped me to be able to do such when I'm not on my bike.  

And to think of all the money I've spent on icons, books, and prayer ropes.  All I needed to do was buy a scooter!   Smiley

One can always take a walk outside, but I find it best to pray in the bedroom where I feel safe. Because of mountain lions, coyotes, bears and foxes in our neighborhood, I hear every leaf blowing in the wind and wonder.

Oh, did I mention that we do have a resident mountain lion who visits us almost daily? Our neighbors have seen him sitting on our driveway. He feels home here. Indeed, he seems to sit by our bedroom bathroom window while we chant the Canon to the Theotokos.

I do have a small deck off of my kitchen and I really should make more use of it, but it would be best to sit out there early in the morning when it's cooler.  (But I tend to hit the "snooze" on my alarm most mornings and roll over for an extra 1/2 hour of zzzz. . . then I end up rushing to do things before work.)

I'm in the "burbs", Maria, so I'll see a deer every once in a great while but it's not the "wild kingdom" like where you are.  It must be beautiful by you. Sounds like you've made a friend of that mountain lion. . . .must be soothed by your chanting Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2014, 03:23:55 AM »

I do not recall reading anything ever about simply "listening", that is, to not even pray, but to simply be silent in everything. That is interesting

I have heard of emptying the mind, but at the same time to also pray.
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« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2014, 09:09:25 AM »

Gunnar,

The technique you refer to is the one endorsed and practiced bythe Quakers.
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« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2014, 08:45:40 PM »

Hesychasm is a predominate part of Orthodoxy. Withdrawing from the world and attempting solitude even for a short time is a first step in that.  It is often accompanied by saying the Jesus Prayer.  I will admit that I fail miserably in this regard.  I am one of those people that usually have a radio, TV, computer and phone going all at the same time.  It is a good reminder that you priest gave.  God speaks to us in the stillness.

Is that kind of practice actually encouraged for seekers? I thought even newly illumined would not be encouraged to do this?

Personally I found tremendous spiritual value in it - it changed my life in fact - when I read some monastic books as a brand new Christian and decided to try it.

However, I found there are also pitfalls, and given that I didn't even go to church yet, much less have any real guidance - God graciously protected me to a degree but one can run ahead of God in that kind of thing and get into trouble.

Anyway, with a spiritual father, I would be interested to cautiously try again, but I didn't think it would be allowed for some time? Is this really a common suggestion for those new to the faith, or even inquirers or catechumens?
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« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2014, 09:21:57 PM »

I have a copy of "Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior Way" by Matthew the Poor that I purchased about a year or so ago . . .before I ever sat down with my priest to discuss my inquiry into Orthodoxy.  A very good work it seems, but after reading just the first chapter I knew that it was FAR TOO advanced for me and meant for someone more mature in the faith, so I put it down.  I'm trusting that my priest will direct me in my prayer life that meets me where I am at the moment, spiritually.
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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2014, 10:21:55 PM »

Hesychasm is a predominate part of Orthodoxy. Withdrawing from the world and attempting solitude even for a short time is a first step in that.  It is often accompanied by saying the Jesus Prayer.  I will admit that I fail miserably in this regard.  I am one of those people that usually have a radio, TV, computer and phone going all at the same time.  It is a good reminder that you priest gave.  God speaks to us in the stillness.

Is that kind of practice actually encouraged for seekers? I thought even newly illumined would not be encouraged to do this?

Personally I found tremendous spiritual value in it - it changed my life in fact - when I read some monastic books as a brand new Christian and decided to try it.

However, I found there are also pitfalls, and given that I didn't even go to church yet, much less have any real guidance - God graciously protected me to a degree but one can run ahead of God in that kind of thing and get into trouble.

Anyway, with a spiritual father, I would be interested to cautiously try again, but I didn't think it would be allowed for some time? Is this really a common suggestion for those new to the faith, or even inquirers or catechumens?
I think just taking some quiet time each day would be considered just dipping your toe into the concept of hesychasm.  If he starts recommending 12,000 Jesus Prayers a day, then I would be a bit concerned about that. Of course, everyone is different.  In the Way of the Pilgrim, that is exactly how he starts out.
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« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2014, 12:41:28 AM »

Hesychasm is a predominate part of Orthodoxy. Withdrawing from the world and attempting solitude even for a short time is a first step in that.  It is often accompanied by saying the Jesus Prayer.  I will admit that I fail miserably in this regard.  I am one of those people that usually have a radio, TV, computer and phone going all at the same time.  It is a good reminder that you priest gave.  God speaks to us in the stillness.

Is that kind of practice actually encouraged for seekers? I thought even newly illumined would not be encouraged to do this?

Personally I found tremendous spiritual value in it - it changed my life in fact - when I read some monastic books as a brand new Christian and decided to try it.

However, I found there are also pitfalls, and given that I didn't even go to church yet, much less have any real guidance - God graciously protected me to a degree but one can run ahead of God in that kind of thing and get into trouble.

Anyway, with a spiritual father, I would be interested to cautiously try again, but I didn't think it would be allowed for some time? Is this really a common suggestion for those new to the faith, or even inquirers or catechumens?
I think just taking some quiet time each day would be considered just dipping your toe into the concept of hesychasm.  If he starts recommending 12,000 Jesus Prayers a day, then I would be a bit concerned about that. Of course, everyone is different.  In the Way of the Pilgrim, that is exactly how he starts out.

Thank you. Always more books I want to read lol.

I'm not sure it's exactly the same thing or not. The practice that made such a difference to me was to quiet the mind, and focus and contemplate God. It was more like just being aware of being in His Presence, not any guided meditation at all. Stillness of the mind was essential. "Be still and know that I am God." Simple as that. And it changed my life.

There were other steps and types of prayer beyond that, but I stayed at that point for a while, and then my "running ahead" took me in other directions, so I never progressed. Which was probably for the best, as I got in enough trouble just that way.

Actually, Father has said nothing about any set number of Jesus prayers. He wants me to pray often, but not for too long. He did encourage Jesus prayers when not otherwise occupied, but usually the only "unoccupied" time I have is when a podcast ends but my hands stay too busy to start another for a while. I'm not sure if that's good or not.
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« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2014, 12:43:38 AM »

I have a copy of "Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior Way" by Matthew the Poor that I purchased about a year or so ago . . .before I ever sat down with my priest to discuss my inquiry into Orthodoxy.  A very good work it seems, but after reading just the first chapter I knew that it was FAR TOO advanced for me and meant for someone more mature in the faith, so I put it down.  I'm trusting that my priest will direct me in my prayer life that meets me where I am at the moment, spiritually.

You are much wiser than I was starting out. Wink

Sounds like another interesting book. I should add it to my "someday" list. Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2014, 11:53:01 PM »

With respect to those wary of potential attack by dangerous animals while out running or walking...I'm not sure how well this would work with a  cougar or a fox...maybe a coyote (if alone). I used to live in a little suburb in which one of the neighbors had a german shepherd who would chase me and nip at my heels whenever I walked past it's yard...or any yard near it's yard.  I did not like this.  So, I started carrying biscuits and bacon.  As soon as the dog ran close up behind me I would drop a piece or two of biscuit and bacon. Within two weeks I was that dog's best friend. She would bark a warning while I was still distant, but as soon as I got close enough to recognize, her tail would start wagging and she would get all puppy-playful and come running wanting to be petted (and fed). I've used similar techniques to hand tame feral cats (those took months though)...but same basic idea (regular food and proximity). Maybe with a cougar you could drop fried chicken or something...and if it didn't eat you or maul you in the interim to get the rest of the chicken in your fanny pack, then in about two or three months it might get exited to see you coming and even decide to run with you.  As for bears if grizzlies try salmon and blueberries, if a black bear, then keep a pop top of sweetened condensed milk to drop. They love it....and they are doglike enough, they may become friendly before too long.
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