“Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10)
A few months ago, I was spending my time in the morning in my usual routines. I have several pieces to that routine, of which one of them is to spend time in prayer. I have always found prayer hard to understand. Perhaps that is because I lean toward the logical and rational, and prayer has a mysterious, super-rational aspect to it. Still, I spend time in prayer because spending time with someone (God) is how a relationship is built.
Over time I am learning to be quiet when I pray. Many times, that quiet seems like nothing more than silence. On this particular morning months ago, a complex issue was weighing on my mind that was difficult to navigate. It became part of my prayer. In the silence, a direction began to formulate. The complex problem simplified. My first thought was to get back to my prayer. Then, all of a sudden, I realized that that solution was part of my prayer. I did not hear a voice. Someone could argue that this was not God speaking, but just my mind finding a solution. Perhaps that is true. But I have found this happens very regularly when I give space in my prayers to listen.
Space in our soul life is critical to its health. Just like a plant cannot grow in hardpan but needs the space in the dirt of fertile soil, so we need space to grow roots that sink deep. Space on the soul level achieves purposes that self-improvement and personal development never can touch. Space grounds us. During a typical day, all sorts of voices vie for our attention. After a while, we feel whipsawed in our efforts to meet everyone’s demands. Prayer, particularly with a purposeful element of listening, grounds us in who we are, who God is, and what is ultimately essential. This equips us to hold our ground when the winds blow hard.
Space calms us. We are inundated with reasons to be anxious. Stress and worry become the default response in a dangerous and unpredictable world. Space works to alter our subconscious reaction from angst to calm. The apostle Paul, imprisoned in Rome while likely awaiting his execution, told the Philippian church, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayers and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4: 6-7) Only experience will prove this verse to be more than wishful thinking. In the end, space becomes the soil of the soul that grows calm in our lives.
Finally, space is one of the key ways we find God. God does not fit into a box or adhere to a formula. He is silent when He chooses to be silent and communicates when and how He chooses to communicate. In spite of this, the overarching truth is that if we seek Him, He will be found.
The practice of creating space transforms every arena of our lives. Space gives God room to act without always interrupting Him with our words and our efforts. In creating soul space, we learn to let go and rest in God’s presence and power.