Father Fryml led a discussion on silence in the presence of God and listening to God as essentials of Christian prayer. There are numerous commands and instructions in the Bible and in the Catechism about speaking to God and about staying busy with good works, but, for today, the theme is listening in silence.
Prayer in the Catechism
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines prayer as “a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God.” (Paragraph 2558) Following paragraphs state that “humility is the foundation of prayer,” and that “the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him.” Following these introductory comments are about 75 pages on Christian Prayer in Part Four of the Catechism, all consistent with the principles of humility in the presence of God, in relationship and communion with Him. And that suggests we should shut up and listen as well as speak.
Advice from Jesus on Prayer
Matthew 6:5-8 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Samuel Listening to God
1 Samuel 3:8-10 The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Other Examples of Responses to the Presence of God – “Here I am.”
Genesis 46:1-2 Israel set out with all that was his. When he arrived at Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. There God, speaking to Israel in a vision by night, called, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he answered.
Exodus 3:2-4 There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.”
1 Samuel 3:2-4 One day Eli was asleep in his usual place. His eyes had lately grown so weak that he could not see. The lamp of God was not yet extinguished, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Psalm 40:2-9 I waited, waited for the LORD; who bent down and heard my cry, Drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp, Set my feet upon rock, steadied my steps, and put a new song in my mouth, a hymn to our God. Many shall look on in awe and they shall trust in the LORD. Happy those whose trust is the LORD, who turn not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood. How numerous, O LORD, my God, you have made your wondrous deeds! And in your plans for us there is none to equal you. Should I wish to declare or tell them, too many are they to recount. Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I said, “Here I am; your commands for me are written in the scroll. To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart!”
Psalm 70:5-6 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. May those who long for your help always say, “God be glorified!” Here I am, afflicted and poor. God, come quickly! You are my help and deliverer. LORD, do not delay!
The Call and Response of Isaiah
Isaiah 6:1-8 In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft. “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!” they cried one to the other. “All the earth is filled with his glory!” At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it. “See,” he said, “now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”
God Speaking through the Prophet Isaiah Declares His Presence
Isaiah 65:1-2 I was ready to respond to those who asked me not, to be found by those who sought me not. I said: Here I am! Here I am! To a nation that did not call upon my name. I have stretched out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in evil paths and follow their own thoughts,
Isaiah 52:5-6 But now, what am I to do here? says the LORD. My people have been taken away without redress; their rulers make a boast of it, says the LORD; all the day my name is constantly reviled. Therefore on that day my people shall know my renown, that it is I who have foretold it. Here I am!
Isaiah 58:9-11 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.
And These about Silence in the Presence of God
Deuteronomy 27:9-10 Moses, with the levitical priests, then said to all Israel: “Be silent, O Israel, and listen! This day you have become the people of the LORD, your God. You shall therefore hearken to the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes which I enjoin on you today.”
Job 6:24 Teach me, and I will be silent; prove to me wherein I have erred.
Job 33:31-33 Be attentive, O Job; listen to me! Be silent and I will speak. If you have aught to say, then answer me. Speak out! I should like to see you justified. If not, then do you listen to me; be silent while I teach you wisdom.
Psalm 4:4-5 Know that the LORD works wonders for the faithful; the LORD hears when I call out. Tremble and do not sin; upon your beds ponder in silence.
Lamentations 3:25-28 Good is the LORD to one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him; It is good to hope in silence for the saving help of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke from his youth. Let him sit alone and in silence, when it is laid upon him.
Habakkuk 2:20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; silence before him, all the earth!
Zechariah 2:17 Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD! for he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.
And a Reminder that God May Speak Very Quietly
1 Kings 19:11-13 Then the LORD said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD– but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake– but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire– but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?”