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Waiting on the Lord: The Power of Silent Prayer

Discover a rewarding way to become more aware of God’s presence.

Butterly lands on a praying woman's hand
Credit: Polka Dot Images

God is always with us, but in our busyness, we don’t often allow ourselves to experience His presence. One way—a challenging but very rewarding way—to become more aware of God’s presence in our lives is to wait on the Lord.

By just being still and focusing your thoughts on God, you can make a space for contemplation in the midst of your obligations and duties. Martha and Mary provide the perfect examples of how we’re often unaware of the presence of the Lord and how to wait for Him. When Jesus visited the sisters at their Bethany home, Martha began to try to get everything ready to pro- vide hospitality to Jesus. She had wonderful intentions—she was ready to “wait on the Lord”in the sense of serving Him. Luke tells us that Martha had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” —Luke 10:39–42

Poor Martha! Was she wrong to try to serve Jesus? Of course not. But Martha was so intent on serving the man that she failed to recognize the Messiah.

On one day each week, I say no verbal prayers except for the prayers my husband and I start and end our day with. Recognizing my tendency to be like Martha—busy and distracted—I use my once-a-week silence to be quiet in the presence of the Lord.

For me, that silence requires trust. Like Martha, I’m not one to wait—my prayers are often a barrage of pleas and praise—and so by making myself wait on the Lord in stillness, I’m expressing my faith in the most challenging way I can: in silence and patience. My day of silence, my prayer Sabbath, restores my sense of unity with the Lord. The day before my day of silent prayer, I pray like this:

Dear Lord, Tomorrow let me pray to You without words and images. Let my prayer to You be the living of my life in the knowledge and awareness of Your constant presence, love, forgiveness, mercy, healing. And by so living, let my life itself become a prayer to You, without the need for words or images.

If you’d like to prepare for a weekly prayer Sabbath, take comfort from Jesus’ assurances about waiting on and trusting the Lord

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