MAF Devotions - June 2022
Back to devotions

Silent Prayer

I have a confession…

It isn’t the easiest thing to admit because it might cause a lack of confidence in my ability to do my job. (Now you’re intrigued!)

Okay, here goes…

I have led the prayer communications at MAF UK for nearly seven years now. Although I came to the role as more of a worshipper than a prayer warrior, I had been a Christian for nearly 12 years and understood the grace and power of our Lord. I believed He’d called me into the role and trusted Him to equip me, as He continues to do to this day.

I work with an incredible team that helps produce the Prayer Diary. I know our supporters appreciate having specific things to pray about, so we do our best to convey the reality of serving in remote and isolated areas. As well as creating other resources like this devotion, MAF UK personnel pray together twice a week — our small groups bringing our prayers and petitions to the Lord.

Prayer is, and has always been, a priority for MAF.

But just lately, I’ve been challenged by how easy it is to come to God with our lists, wants and needs. I felt stirred by the question, ‘How often do we make time to listen to what He might be saying?’

For those who know me, this is quite a challenge. I love to chat and often process my thoughts verbally — so being quiet doesn’t come easily. But then again, God loves to stretch us, doesn’t He?

I think this is a continuation of the work He started in me a few years ago when he taught me to ‘be still’ after I’d broken my leg. And I guess it’s all part of the deep formation He wants for all of us. So, it makes sense that Papa God didn’t leave the conversation at just making time to listen to Him, He started to talk to me about ‘silent prayer’.

What is that?

During an interview, Mother Teresa was asked what she said to God when she prayed. Her answer was, ‘I don’t talk. I simply listen.’ Believing he understood this, the interviewer then asked, ‘Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?’

Mother Teresa replied, ‘He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.’

Silent prayer is simply spending time focusing our attention on God through the simplicity of a shared presence. It’s about being together. At its core is the intention to establish a relationship with God based on friendship rather than requirements.

In his book The Deeply Formed Life, author and pastor Rich Villodas says that ‘contemplative, silent prayer causes us to lay down our preoccupations, for a moment, to tend to the presence and invitation of Jesus, yet this is often a challenging practice.’

He suggests the following four ways to reframe our prayer life and get us back on track:

Focus on relationship, not technique

Silent prayer is not about mastering a technique but entering into a deeper relationship with God. Rich suggests that ‘there is no such thing as being professionals at prayer. We are always beginners.’

Normalise boredom

As a lively Pentecostal type of gal, this is the hardest part for me. I often connect with God in a sensory way — through sights, sounds and sensations, so doing ‘nothing’ can be difficult. But Rich encourages us to ‘think of boredom during silent prayer as an act of purification’. The ‘purification’ of good feelings or experiences keeps our eyes on the Lord and prevents us from a worship based on spiritual experiences.

Reframe distractions

Distraction in prayer isn’t a sign that you are a ‘bad Christian’. It’s actually a sign that you’re human! It’s impossible to engage in silent prayer without the ongoing tension of the outer and inner voices that can sometimes overwhelm us. Rich suggests that our distractions become an invitation to return — ever so silently — to the centre of God’s heart. I love the quote from the theologian and author Thomas Keating, who said that if your mind gets distracted 10,000 times in 20 minutes of prayer, ‘it’s ten thousand opportunities to return to God’.

Remember that God is always waiting with open arms

It can be easy to avoid the throne of God through the mistaken belief that we’re simply not good enough. The image of God portrayed through the father in the story of the prodigal son shapes our understanding of His love. Interestingly, Rich’s book highlights the fact that the prodigal son doesn’t return with a renewed love for his father, ‘he comes back simply to survive. And his father is perfectly fine with that. God just wants us home.’

The call to step out of the shallows and dive into a deeper connection with God enables us to offer our presence in the present moment. Finding ourselves in a place of greater depth refreshes, grounds and revives us. When we are silent for long enough, every part of creation somehow increases our awareness of God. Theologian N T Wright said that, ‘God is doing what God is doing in God’s time. And, maybe, if we had to slow down a bit, we might paradoxically catch up with God.’


The invitation to practise silent prayer in no way suggests that praying about specific topics isn’t important. Instead, it implies that our verbal prayers are better when shaped and energised out of moments of silence.

Can I invite you to think about how you can carve out times of silent prayer as part of your daily rhythm, both individually and with others?

This is all new to me! Why not go on this journey together? I’d love to hear how you get on. Please email us.