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I am excited to share with you my review of Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality by J. Brent Bill. J. Brent Bill is a writer, photographer, popular speaker, retreat leader, and a Quaker minister. You can learn more about J. Brent Bill at BrentBill.com.
I walk away with three takeaways from this wonderful book.
“Quaker silence is pregnant with holy expectation. It is filled with anticipation that Jesus will be there.” I practice centering prayer. Centering prayer opens me to the gift of contemplative prayer.
Contemplative prayer is a silent sit with God. I bring no agenda. I open my mind, heart and body to God who is beyond thoughts, words and emotions. I sit with God because I love God.
During centering prayer, I open to God’s presence and action within. I will continue to be open but I will also “expect” that Jesus will be there! I will also “expect” that Jesus will speak to me! “Quaker silence is filled with expectation-expectation that God will speak. When we hear God, our lives are changed.”
I sit in silence two to three times per day. “In the New Testament we find many examples of Jesus’s seeking the silence of solitude, even group solitude.” I need silence in community. There are centering prayer groups in my community. I must seek them out and also sit in community silence. Silence in community is powerful.
Brent shares what to expect when you attend a traditional Quaker silent service. Two years ago I attended a traditional Quaker silent service. I sat in an old meeting house with at least one hundred adults and children. I must do so again. I miss this vital form of silence.
At the end of the book, Brent provides some silent practices. One practice caught my attention. “As you move through this day, look for places where you might be quiet….washing dishes, riding the train to the office, walking in the woods.” These moments are available to us each day. It is in these ordinary and sometimes mundane moments that I can and will encounter the Divine.
“I need God’s help. That is why holy silence is an important part of Quaker life.” I too need God’s help! Where will I best find God’s help? I will find it in the silence of the holy hush.
Please read this short but life-changing book. It will forever change how you think about silence.
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I just finished Sacred Compass by J. Brent Bill and Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God by James Finley. I am currently reading The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within by Christine Valters Paintner.
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David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
I use a Prayer Rope after each Centering Prayer Sit.
Centering Prayer is a silent prayer practice that can move you toward a profound relationship with the Spirit of God within. It is a way of praying that opens the door to the Divine Indwelling—the ground of our being. With Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating and his colleagues Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Father Carl Arico present the first online course in this method for deepening your intimacy with God and ultimately consenting to the presence and action of the Divine in all aspects of your life.
The early Christians, teaches the Reverend Cynthia Bourgeault, were afire with the spirit of Jesus, inspired fully by his teaching of a total transformation of consciousness. How do we reclaim that fire today? On Encountering the Wisdom Jesus, this brilliant author and dynamic Episcopalian priest presents her first full-length audio course about rediscovering the Master of Wisdom. Twelve immersive sessions cover: the parables as wisdom tools; Jesus’s teachings about kenosis (or self-emptying: a path as radical today as it was 2,000 years ago); Jesus as tantric master; Centering Prayer, an approach to meditation as Jesus lived it, and much more. (Based upon her book, The Wisdom Jesus.)
Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)
Check out my review of Christian Prayer Methods by Dr. Philip St. Romain.
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. Enjoy an article I wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.
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