My Prayer/Teen Prayer Silent Night… by Noah Salas Praise and worship always has a place in my heart. What could be better than being able to praise the Lord by singing boldly to the Father that relentlessly pursues after me in love? This was my attitude until one night during youth group, and my youth minister told us, “God speaks to us in silence.” In reflecting on that statement in adoration later that night, I realized that I never truly took the time to sit before God in real silent prayer. It felt uncomfortable sitting in silence before the Lord for the first time. I questioned whether I was even praying right or if God could even hear me. With Christmas coming up soon, we as a church are wrapping up a time of preparing ourselves for the birth of Jesus in the season of Advent. The Magi themselves went on a journey to seek and find Christ. They had to step beyond the familiar day-to-day to encounter Him in a manger. Christ isn’t found in the noise, but rather in the silence. The Magi falling prostrate in adoration after encountering Christ in the manger is quite similar to how we come to adore him in the Eucharist during adoration. The problem we often experience is with the noise we’re so used to being surrounded by — it gets difficult adjusting ourselves to the silence. Each of us at some point has probably experienced the frustration of trying to communicate with God in the silence when it comes to silent prayer. When we think this way, though, a more important question we have to ask ourselves is, when was the last time we listened to Him? Relationships aren’t one-sided. Think of a moment when you’ve spent time catching up with someone you haven’t spoken to in forever. You’ve been waiting to share with them everything that’s been going on in your life. The moment you see them your first instinct is to bombard them with everything that’s on your mind instantly. You end up neglecting every important thing that your friend has to share with you and because you’re so busy talking, you might miss out on something significant that they have to say. Now apply this situation to your relationship with God. God loves us so much as our heavenly Father. He wants us to be able to bring our troubles to Him and tell Him everything that’s going on in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we can disregard what He has to say back to us. Too often, when we pray, we can be tempted to go on about different situations, list off new prayer requests, and name the struggles we face. In our own noise, we don’t give God the opportunity to respond. Like our relationships with each other, a relationship with God cannot thrive if we spend all our time with Him talking, and not listening to what He has to say. Embrace the gift of silence. We’ve gotten very comfortable surrounding ourselves with noise — whether it be our overabundant schedules, the time we spend looking at our phones, or the constant need to be listening to music… I’ve been guilty of either looking at my phone or catching up on the latest episode to my favorite TV show in my free time, just so that I don’t have to acknowledge the uncomfortableness of silence. If we continually surround ourselves with the noise of this world, then listening to what God has to say to us becomes almost impossible. To combat that difficulty, here are some practical ways to be able to enter into a time of silence during prayer. Remove noise. The best way to embrace silence is to literally remove all of the noise we surround ourselves with on a daily basis. There isn’t a better place to do so than spending an hour with our Lord in adoration. Ask your youth minister for information about when your parish has Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during the week and plan accordingly so that you can spend some quiet time before Jesus in the Eucharist. The absence of phones and any other noise in a visit to the Blessed Sacrament chapel allows for a time of silent prayer where Christ can really begin to speak to you. If you can’t make it to adoration or your church, you can still create an environment of silence right where you are! Whether it be indoors or outdoors, find a spot where you can encounter the least amount of distraction. Leave your phone turned off, find a place to sit, and embrace the moment of being in silence. Start with short increments of time. It takes practice to become great at listening… especially to become great at listening to the Lord. To ease your way out of that feeling of discomfort when it comes to silent prayer, start by picking a couple of minutes out of the day to be fully immersed in silence. Maybe when you wake up in the morning, for example, turn off the radio and allow yourself to be in silence on the way to school in the morning. Practicing this enables you to be more accustomed to sitting in silence with Jesus Himself during Holy Hour. Bring a Journal to write in. Ask Jesus to give you the grace to listen to Him in the silence and allow Him to reveal what He wants to tell you. Bring a journal with you and write down what God reveals to you during the time you’re in prayer, so that you can keep track of what He says and use it to remember His words. Dive into God’s Word. What I truly enjoy the most about Scripture is the fact that God speaks to me every time I read or even re-read a passage in the Bible. The best part of reading it is that it enables us to go on a journey of self-discovery to who we are as beloved children of God the Father. Scripture and silent prayer go hand in hand, allowing whatever message God has for us to become known through reflecting on what we read in the bible. Besides bringing a journal with you when you go into adoration, bring a bible with you as well to open up and dive into God’s Word. If you’re not quite sure as to where to begin, start in the gospels. Immerse yourself in the story of Christ’s time and ministry here on Earth, and then go from there. Take the time to dwell and reflect on what God’s trying to say to you in the passage you read. If anything comes to mind as you sit before the Lord, keep track of it by writing it down! It’s going to be challenging to adopt silence as part of your prayer routine if you’re not already used to it, but it’s worth the work it’ll take to grow comfortable in it. When you pray, you’re speaking to the Lord Himself. The Christmas season brings forth abundant peace and joy in the celebration of the birth of Jesus. He will bring you the utmost peace if you allow yourself to open up to Him — even if it’s a little awkward when you first begin. Silence is uncomfortable at first, but like how Christ encountered the magi in the midst of a silent night, Christ is there in the midst of the silence for us! He’s waiting to speak to you.