My first thought every day is always a groggy, crusty-eyed grievance that no one in the past was considerate enough to invent the time machine. While battling the plague and inventing indoor plumbing, did they not consider that I might need to repeat my meager night’s sleep one or two more times.
My second thought is always a clumsy estimate of the exact number of seconds I can remain in bed and still show up to class wearing deodorant and matching socks. After these thoughts, my mind wakes up properly and is instantly flooded with everything I need to accomplish for the day. (Or else I succumb to the soporific effect of my pillow and make a mental note not to raise my arms too close to anybody’s nose.) Either way, the last thing on my mind is sitting still and being silent.
In our fast-paced world filled with technology and constant stimuli, it is almost impossible to be completely silent. When you have three essays, two projects, a Biology exam to worry about, not to mention the upcoming tennis match or choir concert as well as a social life, little time is left for silent contemplation. What time I do have free is usually reserved for sleeping or Netflix, because who wants to think after an entire day of it? This summer however, I was challenged to spend time every day in silent contemplation and prayer.
I participated in a study-abroad program through JBU that allotted a week’s stay at a French monastery. The brothers who live there, as well as their visitors, pray three times a day. Not only do the prayer times involve singing and scripture reading, but also a time reserved for silence. At least 30 minutes a day the brothers remain completely silent, meditating on God.
As a Christian, the word meditation has never sat quite right with me. I always associated the word with the ritual emptying of your mind and the monotone chanting of the word “om.” In fact, the Bible calls us to meditate on Christ. Psalm 1: 1-2 says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.”
After learning about the importance of daily meditation on God and His word, and inspired by the brother’s practice, I sought to try and meditate more during my daily devotion. Honestly, I found it difficult to focus. For one thing, I usually play music in the morning while I read my devotion. It is never too loud, but somehow I always think about the music and not what I am reading. For another thing, I always think about everything else I need to be doing, such as getting ready for the day or working on a time machine prototype. It is hard for me to be completely still and silent when I feel the weight of all of my impending responsibilities closing in on me.
So Often, I find that when I’m in this situation I make time to pray and ask God for help and advice, but take no time to sit quietly and listen for his response. Prayer should not be a one-way conversation. God wants to have a relationship with us, not just be a sounding board for all of our problems and anxieties. By silently meditating on scripture we can often hear His responses. While not necessarily audibly or even right away, God does always answer our prayers during His timing and in accordance with His plan. If we don’t take the time to stop and listen, how can we be prepared when He calls us to follow Him? It is worth losing a few extra minutes of sleep in order to obey God’s call. Who knows? Maybe you will finally be the person called to build a time machine.