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Understanding prayer: The tranquility of silence

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Understanding prayer: The tranquility of silence

By Emma Craven

Editor’s Note: Spokane FāVS is publishing a series of columns on the subject of prayer. Prayer is a common religious concept and is used in secular, colloquial speech and circumstances. Early humans may have used a version of prayer, even before the advent of formal religious observances.

But what does prayer mean? What is it? Who does it? Can you pray if it isn’t to a Divine Being? How do you do it? Is it a solitary and/or communal activity? Why do it at all? What motivates a person to pray? What are the expectations on the part of the pray-er? Should there be some type of tangible outcome or after effects? These and other questions will be addressed over the next few weeks.

I know it may seem that silence and prayer go hand in hand, but the type of silence I’m talking about is different. 

During my time at Gonzaga, I’ve had the opportunity to attend several silent retreats. At first, being silent for 48 hours to better connect religiously and spiritually with myself and God was intimidating. I didn’t know if I could do it. But once that weekend was up, I was hooked. 

I must have attended that retreat at least five times, and I loved it more and more each time. There was something about the silence that was so appealing. Not only did I enjoy being silent, but everything and everyone at the retreat were also silent, which was serene. 

Having days of silence made me realize what was really important: eliminating all the distractions and reconnecting my relationship with God and prayer.

While I can’t just spend 48 hours in silence every time I feel overwhelmed by noise or feel the need to recharge my batteries, I’ve tried to implement silence in small moments in my everyday life. Taking time to be silent while also enjoying the silence in nature, in an empty house or simply going on a drive help me find tranquility.

Being silent has allowed me to dive deeper into my faith in ways I just couldn’t when I was enveloped in noise. When reconnecting with God and prayer in silence, I find safety and peace in ways I didn’t when I would pray in church. The solitude and silence have allowed me to shut out the noise and distractions and open my heart.

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