Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God. Psalm 46:10 (TPT)
What We Know – Prayer and Mystery Series – Part 4
Silence, for me, is a form of prayer.
I’ve learned faith and trust more in the silence than in the declaring. More with tears running down my face than in the shouting. And more in surrender (letting go) than demanding God does what I want him to do.
If prayer is just a way of sending God our lists of the things we want for Christmas, because, after all, we’ve been really good Christians this year, then we are missing the point entirely.
Prayer is flow, relationship, awareness, laughing, crying, speaking a little, listening a lot… to pray is to give yourself over to the belief that you are sharing this moment with the essence of all things. God. And he's sharing himself with you. A beautiful and holy exchange.
In this place of surrender, letting go of our ego’s, what we know and what we do not know can live at ease with each other – there is no competition.
Prayer should open us up to wonder. It’s not a dead end street for our understanding, curiosity or questions. It’s like the meeting place for all that we know and all that we don’t know.
In part one of this series, I quoted Richard Rohr (I know I’ve quoted him A LOT lately… promise to widen my “quote base” *wink*):
“At the same time, we must also trust that we are held irrevocably in the mystery of God’s love, without fully understanding it. Alongside all our knowing, accompanying every bit of our knowing must be the humble ‘knowing that we do not know.’ That’s why the great tradition of prayer is balanced by both kataphatic knowing, through images and words, and apophatic knowing, through silence, images, and beyond words. Apophatic knowing is the empty space around the words, allowing God to fill in all the gaps in an ‘unspeakable’ way.”
I think we have the “cataphatic knowing” down pretty well. We are quick to rattle off what we KNOW about God, not just through our own experience, but through study and learning, too.
But to sit with the unknown? To be open to mystery and wonder? Even to the idea that what we think we know about God might be incomplete?
That’s a humility that our culture, and our generation, finds a little uncomfortable.
Apophatic Prayer emphasizes loving silence and “unknowing.” It’s surrendering our language, awareness, and understanding to God’s infinite nature. It knows God through absence and silence, mystery and darkness. Not in an evil sense, but in an “unknown” sense.
Possibility, wonder… an eternal “more” to what we already know. We tend to get so caught up in definitions and party lines and right and wrong and knowledge and light and clarity, that we’ve almost crowded out any space for wonder. For the non-need for answers. For any chance of knowing more deeply and keenly than we currently do.
For faith's sake, the need to know has to be balanced by a non-need to know. The understanding that we are held so tightly by our deeper experiences of God that there’s a non-need to have answers for everything.
Prayer is the place where this comes to fruition for me. Whether it's a more meditative prayer in silence, or a hurried plea for help: I bring what I know about God, and I allow space for what I don’t know to breathe and move in and around my situation.
“Allowing God to to fill in all the gaps in an ‘unspeakable’ way.”
Are you comfortable with what you don't know? Leave us your comments below.