At some point in my twenties, my friend Anne mentioned sitting in silence with Jesus, a concept she’d read in one of Jill Briscoe’s books. Anne is a godly (and super fun) older woman and I’d heard Jill Briscoe speak, I trusted both of these women as a voices that would consistently encourage me to put my roots deep down into the Living Water Jesus offers. So I thought, “Sure, I’ll try it.”
I was skeptical when Anne said she had trouble making it to five minutes, despite much effort: How hard could sitting be? But when I tried sitting in silence with Jesus myself I found even two minutes nearly impossible. I think I tried it once. And then I went back to my previously scheduled “quiet time” routine of Bible study, journaled prayers, and reading every book I could get into my hands. Usually with some sort of music playing in the background. Those habits served and still serve me well, but perhaps there is some irony in the fact that my “quiet time” contained so much activity, and so little quiet?
Fast forward to the twenty-teens and contemplative prayer and “sitting with Jesus” are popping up in sermons, blog posts, books, podcasts, and in the lives of several close friends and co-workers. After hearing the three hundredth person extol the helpfulness and benefit of sitting with Jesus, I decided to try it again.
In the years since my twenties, I have made peace with silence, and found solitude a necessary friend. But still when I tried “sitting with Jesus” I found myself hitting walls. I light a candle, take a deep breath, and within minutes all the worries, imaginary conversations, speculations, and 100 items on my to do list jump into the silence like lemmings over a cliff.
Even when it feels like my crazy thoughts are assaulting me, I have found sitting in silence with Jesus a helpful spiritual practice, if one that is hard to do consistently. Mostly I struggle with emptying my thoughts and mind (something I’ve been conditioned in church to avoid.) I’ve found it helpful to focus on something. Sometimes that’s a breath prayer (like a mantra, but I use a Bible verse or truth). Other times I try to concentrate on the truth that God is with me, I am at home in His love. And often I take deep breaths and just try to be present in the moment, in my body (some thing I was also conditioned to ignore, but which I have found tremendously helpful.)
But still I struggled.
And then in February I listened to Jill Briscoe’s talk from the IF Gathering and everything came full circle. Jill talked about making space for your soul to come out into the open, to invite your soul to sit on the front steps with Jesus. What a beautiful invitation, and one that captured my imagination (another thing I was conditioned to ignore, but I am learning to put my imagination in the service of my faith and finding imagination is a GIFT.)
So I am trying to make it a practice to imagine my soul coming out of hiding, out of the house, to find Jesus on the front porch. I picture Him sitting on a swing waiting for me. I sit down. I breathe deeply. I sit for a while with my head on His shoulder knowing that I’m loved and not saying anything. Sometimes I imagine Him asking me how my soul is doing. And I answer. And sometimes I just listen.
How about you? Have you tried sitting in silence with Jesus?
What would it look like for you to invite your soul to come out of hiding and sit down with Jesus?
When you picture talking to Jesus, what comes to mind? Are you sitting or standing? Where do you meet Him? Does the idea of sitting on the porch swing with Him resonate with you, or do you picture something else?