Do random, bizarre questions ever arise in your mind? I had one the other day which went like this: Over the course of my life what I have spent more time doing – listening to Depeche Mode music or praying?
To be honest, its a close call.
In the past I have spent a lot of time listening to Depeche Mode. As a teenager growing up in Croydon their brand of miserable 80s electronica spoke to me. A lot of homework was completed to the albums like Black Celebration, Music for the Masses and 101. And thanks to my Matsui personal stereo (a Sony Walkman was too pricey) Basildon’s finest band could accompany me everywhere.
Less not more
In contrast, since becoming a Christian I have always found praying hard. I know its important and valuable – but I find it hard.
I have tried various books to help me. Many have stimulated my thinking and intellectual reflection about my faith. Too often though, in the words of Switchfoot, this just ‘adds to the noise’. I get loads of input – from work, from the web, from books, from talks. What I really need is less, not more.
However, I have crowbarred three of Depeche’s song titles into my title because they are relevant to an approach to prayer which I have tried in the last few months. A friend who knows me and my life well bought this book – Daily Office: Remembering God’s Presence Throughout the Day by Peter Scazzero.
Twice a day the Daily Office asks you to be quiet and still for two minutes to centre yourself before God. Then, it gives you a reflection and a brief prayer. Then asks you to be silent for a further two minutes.
That’s two minutes of silence four times a day. Eight minutes of silence. Every day.
Threatening and dangerous
What has struck me most is how hard I have found this to actually do it. I avoid it, put it off and fail. It is like the silence is threatening and dangerous – like it offends against my need to be busy. It makes me feel vulnerable. And yet the harder it has been the more important it has felt. Due to work, family and the Faithfulness Matters campaign, my life has been more full than ever in recent weeks – but this has not necessarily meant more hectic. I have heard God tell me that he wants me to be still.
I have found real wisdom and help in this book and would highly recommend it. Among many quotes it are ones from French Philospher Blaise Pascal who observed that most of our human problems come because we don’t know how to sit still in our room for an hour. And also real wisdom from Mother Teresa who said:
“We all must take the time to be silent and to contemplate, especially those who live in big cities like London and New York, where everything moves so fast….I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks. God is a friend of silence – we need to listen to God because its not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters. Prayer feeds the soul.”
Click here to buy Daily Office: Remembering God’s Presence Throughout the Day