St Johns East Malvern


At the heart of Christianity is a rich contemplative and mystical tradition. With origins in a fourth-century band of renunciates known as the Desert Fathers, the devotion and practice of these men and women gives inspiration to those in pursuit of the timeless spirit of the sacred Word.

When we try to find communion with God, our words quickly come up short. In the depths of our being, however, the Spirit of God is urging us to find God, who never stops trying to communicate with us. The voice of God is often heard only in a whisper, in a breath of silence. Remaining in silence, in God’s presence, open to His Spirit, is already a prayer.

The road to contemplation is not a path of practiced techniques to achieve inner silence for creating a kind of emptiness within. Instead, if we let Christ pray silently within us, then one day we will discover that the depths of who we are inhabited by a presence – the Spirit of the God who loves us.

At times, therefore, prayer becomes silent. Peaceful communion with God can do without words. “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother.” Like the satisfied child who has stopped crying and is in its mother’s arms, so can “my soul be with me” in the presence of God. Prayer then needs no words, maybe not even thoughts.

How is it possible to reach inner silence? Calming our souls requires a kind of simplicity. Silence means recognising that my worries can’t do much. Silence means leaving to God what is beyond my reach and capacity. A moment of silence is like a holy vacation – a  sabbatical rest – a truce of worries.

The turmoil of our thoughts can be compared to the storm that struck the disciples’ boat on the Sea of Galilee while Jesus was sleeping. Like them, we may be helpless, full of anxiety, and incapable of calming ourselves. But it is in these moments that Christ comes to our help. As he rebuked the wind and made the troubled waters calm, he can quiet our heart and still our fears and worries – if we let Him.

In the words of Psalm 65, ‘Silence is praise to you, O God’. When words and thoughts come to an end, God is praised in silent wonder and admiration.