Lent is a perfect time to practice silence and listening in prayer. As we slow down a bit and focus on strengthening our relationship with God, it’s a good time to remember that prayer isn’t always about talking. In A Gift for God, Mother Teresa said, “The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” I can testify to the fact that some of us aren’t naturally comfortable with silence. We spend our days surrounded with sound – voices, noises, music playing, the television or computer in the background. Some of us just love words! Silence is an unfamiliar experience. But in silence, focused on God, we can connect with undistracted, undivided hearts and minds. Here’s a way to start: Find a place away from distractions. It takes a while to become completely silent in your head and in your spirit. Give yourself some time. Concentrate on your breath, or the sound of the wind moving past you. Don’t use any words, just enter into God’s presence and sit quietly. If thoughts come to you (and they will), set them aside, knowing that you can talk to God about them later. If you have to, write them down so you can refer back to them later, but then push them away for the moment. Silent prayer is the time to take the focus away from yourself, your needs, your petitions (even for other people). These silent minutes are a gift, meant to focus on God, and listen. If you absolutely must use words, they should be words of praise for who God is. But, mostly, you should be quiet and experience sitting with the Holy Spirit, “turning your mind to the light.” The purpose of silence in prayer is not about emptying your mind as much as it is about focusing your whole mind and heart on God’s presence. This doesn’t mean that you must hear God’s voice telling you what to do, solving your most current problem, or giving you the secrets of the universe. Silent prayer is a matter of consciously being surrounded by God’s loving presence, and letting that experience change what we know and understand. Take some time in this season of Lent to experience being blessed in the silence.