If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. -Richard Foster Celebration of Discipline
If we ever hope to overcome the busyness and noise that tends to dominate our lives, we must find space in our lives that creates the opposite effect. If noise, hurry, and busyness lead to stress and frustration, then we must intentionally create space that is quiet, restful, and peaceful. That can be difficult because our culture tends to value a busy schedule over a schedule with time dedicated to doing nothing but sitting and contemplating our place in the universe.
We frequently wear our calendars like a badge of honor and have conversations about who is more tired or more stressed. We may be quick to brag about how we managed to do everything on our schedule with 4 hours of sleep and several cups of coffee. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone brag about spending an hour in silence contemplating how God is at work in their lives. Granted, a person who is taking that kind of time with God most likely isn’t going to feel the need to brag. However, I think the point remains that our culture tends to value the sacrifice of living an overly busy schedule than living a life that incorporates a lot of quiet solitude.
The Gospel writers, Mark and Luke both highlight Jesus’ intentional rhythm of going off alone for prayer:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35)
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”. (Luke 5:16)
If we don’t take time for contemplative prayer, we can’t see things as they truly are. We will only ever see them through the lens of our busyness and will only ever see ourselves as valuable because of what we produce. Henri Nouwen says, ” The practice of contemplative prayer reveals to us the true nature of things; it unmasks the illusion of control, the possessiveness of possessions, and the pretense of the false self.
Contemplative prayer can be a very useful tool for our faith development. Finding places to participate in contemplative prayer can be as challenging as it is finding time for it. One of the great things about Biblical Life Institute (BLI) is its quiet contemplative atmosphere. BLI is a great place for people who are looking for a quiet place to pray and to contemplate. You can walk around lake Transylvania, pray in the chapel, or hike the 164 acres on campus. When you arrive on campus, you will find a beautiful, quiet place to study, pray, and contemplate.
We would love for you to come and visit us. Stay for a couple of hours or retreat with us for a couple of days. If you are interested in getting away for a time of contemplation and study, then check out the retreat options that we offer at https://www.bli4u.org/facility-rental/retreats/ . If you are interested in studying at a place with a quiet contemplative atmosphere, then taking courses at BLI could be for you.