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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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Holy Silence: The Quaker Way by J. Brent Bill: Quaker silence is not about stillness, as such, but rather about encountering God in a living and vital holy hush. This e-course encourages women and men to undertake a journey of spiritual silence. The destination is a quiet inner place where God teaches us directly. Friends (as Quakers are formally known) have been honing their take on silence for more than 350 years. It’s a silence that invites us to an immediate and personal encounter with God. That’s because Quakers believe that when we are silent, then the Spirit of God grants us insights, guidance, and understanding of spiritual truth.
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Contemplative Discernment by Fr. Carl Arico, Pamela Begeman, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler: A contemplative practice of discernment is not about decision-making, although this may be an eventual outcome. Rather, contemplative discernment is receptive in nature, a process of opening to receive clues about who we are in God. We focus on ever-deepening levels of relationship and trust in God’s will for us. We learn how to listen deeply to our motivations and sort through and purify any mixed motivations. As this relationship deepens, we learn to allow the love of God to motivate our actions and manifest through us. We discover what it means to truly pray “not my will, but Thy will.”
Embracing Living: The Welcoming Prayer by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Dwyer, Therese Saulnier, Cherry Haisten, Jim McElroy: The Welcoming Prayer is a method of consenting to God’s presence and action in our physical and emotional reactions to events and situations in daily life. If Centering Prayer (or another daily prayer) is practiced for one hour of the day, the Welcoming Prayer is for the other 23 hours. It is a “letting go” in the present moment, in the midst of the activity of ordinary life.
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