Saturday, August 30, 2008

"S" is for Silence

Silence: Creating Space to Pay Attention

.by Kristi De Vito

God loves having relationship with me! But I miss God’s attempts to capture my attention. My life is so busy and noisy that I hardly notice God’s constant presence.

Henri Nouwen said, “There was a time when silence was normal and a lot of racket disturbed us. But today noise is the normal fare, and silence, strange as it may seem, silence has become the real disturbance.”

In my own Christian journey the need for silence and solitude has seldom been spoken of or practiced. Much of my training and experience has been about working hard and accomplishing things for God.

Working hard is good. But I didn’t realize that all of this doing is much more rewarding when it flows from my being – that place inside where God loves and lives in me, and I love and live in God…Jesus calls that abiding.

Often I’ve been impressed with the Psalmist’s words: “Be still and know that I am God.” In recent years I’m embracing the practice of “stillness” or silence. In the beginning, and sometimes still, it feels awkward; I wonder if I’m doing “it” correctly. My mind may be everywhere, and it can even feel like a waste of time. But God continues to draw me to silence, and I’m feeling more and more comfortable being still in God’s presence.

So what is silence? I’m learning that it is one of the ways I create space in my life to pay attention to God. God is always paying attention to us; always present to us. It is we who are seldom attentive and present to God. So as I create space for silence, I’m providing myself with the opportunity to listen to God; and listening is necessary for growth and love in any relationship.

Why is silence important? The Bible encourages us to embrace solitude and silence (Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 30:15; Exodus 14:14). Jesus took time for silence (Luke 4:42; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12).

From early Christian history, men and women of God have observed silence as an integral part of their daily lives. Dallas Willard writes, “Of all the disciplines of abstinence, solitude is generally the most fundamental in the beginning of the spiritual life and must be returned to again and again as that life develops.” Even as I write this, I’m still amazed at how little I have seen this practiced throughout my years of following Jesus.

What role can silence play in your life? Larry Warner says, “God desires to communicate His love, grace, peace and very self to us, but sometimes we move too fast and live with too much noise to receive them. In silence and solitude we slow down, extend our open, empty hands of faith and ready ourselves to receive from God whatever God may have for us.”

I like that; especially the last phrase, “receive from God whatever God may have for us.” That says to me that there is nothing manipulative or magical about silence. God’s presence to us is always a gift. We can only provide the opportunity to pay attention, listen and receive.

In my practice of silence and solitude I have run across some helpful suggestions to encourage me along the journey. I hope you will find these encouraging, too.

Suggestions for those who are new to silence…from Larry Warner (

• Let the time be a gift to you with no expectations. God is with you even if you do not “feel” like God is with you. Scripture is clear that there is no place where God is not present. So even if you do not “feel” God’s presence, to the extent that you are able, settle into and rest in God and in God’s presence.

• Offer yourself to God just as you are in this moment. Actually, that is all you can do. One of the most common mistakes is to think we must somehow be different or have a different history or have in some way cleaned ourselves up a bit before we can come to God. None of this is true. The very best you can do is to offer yourself to God right now just as you are. Now of course, God is not going to leave you as you are. Rather, God is going to help you become the magnificent child of God you were always meant to become. In truth, this is what we most desire.

More suggestions…from Karen Cooper

How do I begin to practice silence and/or being alone?

• Start small and build.

• Take advantage of available space for silence in your daily routine (i.e. walking/jogging, showering, driving, etc.).

What do I do once I get alone?

• Invite God’s presence and end with gratitude.

• Practice silence.

• Notice, notice, notice.

• Have conversations with God.

• Write in my journal.

• Sleep if I’m tired.

• Be emotional.

• Have fun.

What do I do when my mind won’t stay focused?

• Don’t fight mental distractions – this will make it worse!

• Jot things to do later on a piece of paper.

• Express or write your anxieties, emotions, fears to God in a journal.

• Return to prayer when I have released my distractions.

• Dealing with troublesome thoughts in prayer:

» Don’t be discouraged or even shocked at my thoughts. God knew them before me and is not surprised.

» If sin is revealed, confess it, allowing God time to show me its source.

» Return quickly to God, thanking Him for His presence and love and rest in Him.

• Declare my helplessness and my desire to be more whole.

• Keep practicing silence… it will get easier.

Mother Teresa wrote, “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we care in our active life. We need silence to touch souls.”

O God, I thank you for experiencing You anew in silence. Help us touch more souls with Your active love.

Discuss this Article >>

Kristi De Vito’s passion is evident in her love for youth workers, encouraging them toward personal, authentic, holy living. She and her husband, Mike, have served in youth ministry for over 30 years. Since 1993, Kristi has been part of the leadership team for the NNYM Southwest Region, where Mike serves as regional coordinator. Kristi focuses on the soul-care of youth workers, providing opportunities for reflection and spiritual formation. She and Mike previously served as co-university pastors at Vanguard University of Southern California. They live in Orange County and have two married daughters

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

RESOURCE ~ Catch A Vision@ Brooklyn Tabernacle

Date Change: From Oct. 7 to Oct. 21
Brooklyn, NY
There is an old proverb which says that the heart can not taste what the eye has not seen. Strategic Renewal is pleased to partner with the Brooklyn Tabernacle in providing an opportunity for you to experience what God can do when His people come together and pray. Brooklyn Tabernacle is a powerful example of what happens when a church focuses on prayer. This weekly prayer gathering is attended by thousands, and you will be blessed as you experience God work in the midst of His people. You will have the added bonus of hearing teaching from Daniel Henderson and Pastor Jim Cymbala during the day. Don't miss this opportunity to gather together for prayer and teaching!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008:
9:30 ~ Arrive / Registration, Check-in:
The Downtown Learning Center
(walking distance to Brooklyn Tabernacle)
180 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 290-2333
10:00 ~ Session One: "A Vision for an Awakening of Prayer" (Daniel Henderson)
11:00 ~ Session Two: Join the BT staff and Pastor Cymbala for a time of worship and teaching
Noon ~ Lunch - Pastors only - lunch on site with Pastor Cymbala
Lunch - All other participants - a time to interact with Strategic Renewal and BT ministry leaders at lunch off-site
2:00 ~ Session Three: "Leading Prayer Times that Change Lives" (Daniel Henderson)
3:00 ~ Prayer Session
3:45 ~ Free time / Dinner on your own
Early Bird price is $45 per person. Valid until Sept. 29. $65 per person after Sept. 29.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Preparing Leaders for Reflection and Prayer Days and Short Retreat

Preparing Leaders for Reflection and Prayer Days and Short Retreats

U. S Sessions: October 1-10, 2008 at Brookhaven Retreat near Dallas, TX, May 13-22, 2009 at Lutheridge Retreat near Asheville, NC.
Lead Facilitator: Dr. Evelyn Davis, International Training Consultant, Worship Leaders, Topic Facilitators, and Prayer Coordinators will be announced.

Note: For the Pacific Area November 20-29, 2008, contact
Also Note: There will not be a U.S. session in October, 2009, so if the Dallas location is the most convenient for you, try to attend there in October, 2008.

Thank you for your interest in the training that will prepare you to facilitate half or full days of reflection and prayer, and short retreats. The total time for the training is ten days. Arrival time is the first day by noon or early afternoon (our first session is at 3:30 p.m.). Departure is on the last day before noon (after the concluding evaluation and prayer session). Detailed information about each location is given below, and the application form is on page 3. Send your application to and contact her if you have any questions or comments.


>Brookhaven Retreat (October 1-10, 2008 training) is approximately 2½ hours drive from the Dallas International Center, and airport pickups and transportation to Brookhaven will be arranged. Arrive in Dallas by noon or earlier on Wednesday, October 1—we will drive to Brookhaven after lunch. There will be introductions, sharing, and an overview of the sessions beginning at 3:30 p.m. Our first meal is Wednesday evening, and we will have a time of prayer and communion after dinner. We will leave Brookhaven for Dallas at 11:30 on Friday morning the 10th, after our time of evaluation and prayer, so be sure to arrange your flight home mid-afternoon or later (we must allow 2 ½ hours drive to the airport).

>Lutheridge Retreat (May 13-22, 2009 training) is 20 minutes from the Asheville airport. Pickups will be arranged. You must arrive in Asheville by noon or early afternoon Wednesday, May 13th. Introductions and sharing will begin at 3:30 p.m., with an overview of the sessions. Our first meal is Wednesday evening, and we will have a time of prayer and communion after dinner. We will finish our evaluation and prayer session by 11:30 on Friday morning the 22nd , so arrange your flight home mid-afternoon or later. If you can get a cheaper flight into Charlotte, NC instead of Asheville, let us know and we will try to arrange pickups there. Note: If you fly into Charlotte, you will have to arrive earlier and leave later, as it is 2½ hours drive to and from Lutheridge.

Day One—Afternoon and Evening: We will begin at 3:30 p.m. with introductions, sharing, and an overview of the sessions. After dinner that night we will have prayer and communion.
Day Two: Experience one of the reflection topics (listed on the overview on page 2).
Day Three: Work in a small group led by a staff member to experience (and then study and prepare to present) one of the other reflection or retreat topics.
Days Four, Five, Six, Seven, and Eight: Each group presents the topic that they have prepared (so that they will have an opportunity to practice how to use the topics later). Everyone experiences each topic.
Day Nine: Teaching sessions designed to prepare you for praying with and for individuals and groups when you return to your place of service.
Day Ten—Departure after 11:30 a.m.: Closing worship time, evaluation, sharing, and praying.

  • Quality time will be allowed for you to peruse the books and other resources that will be available. There will be a few evening activities, including an overview of how to lead prayer times, a fun night, and sharing what God has done during your time of reflection and prayer. There will also be opportunities for personal ministry and appointments with the prayer coordinator.
  • An Exciting Development: We now have an interactive website, and participants who take the R & P training can make it into an R & P life-style! We will introduce the website during the training sessions, and as participants return to their place of ministry, they will be able to share through this website how God is using R & P in their own lives and, through them, in others' lives. The website will also serve as a prayer hub, and the place where all former R & P participants can access updated materials.
  • Cost: $675.00 for accommodations (double occupancy), meals, a notebook of the topics, copies of the retreat manuals, and the basic resources. There is a daily surcharge of $10.00 for single occupancy, and $75.00 of the above amount is required for registration. Because of a grant that has been received, financial assistance will be available. Note additional details about payment on the application form, and indicate if you have need of financial assistance.
To Register: Choose October 1–10, 2008 or May 13-22, 2009. The number of participants is limited, and persons who attend must be recommended by their branch or entity (if WBT/ SIL), or by their mission, church, or agency (if not WBT/SIL). Fill out the application form (page 3), and return it electronically to Please do not return pages 1 and 2.

Overview: Reflection and Prayer Days and Short Retreats Evelyn C. Davis, Ed. D., Training Consultant, SIL International.

The Topics for Reflection and Prayer Days. A half-day or full-day of reflection and prayer begins with worship and singing, then there is a brief overview of the topic the group has chosen. Handouts describe the topic, with Bible verses for reference, thought questions for application, articles, and a special Resources booklet. There is time for personal reflection and prayer, then the option of praying with someone else or continuing with individual reflection. There is a time of closure, with an opportunity to share.

A Spiritual Inventory and Spiritual Markers. It is helpful to identify spiritual markers in our lives—times when we have encountered God's call or his direction. Then when we face new options and/or decisions, we can review our spiritual markers to be reminded of the context of the activity of God in our lives—his perspective for our past, our present, and our future. Personal Worship. Individuals can use these guidelines (with scriptures) that focus on the following steps: worship; attentiveness; approach the throne; submit to God; confession and forgiveness; prayer for personal protection; guidance; special needs; petitions for yourself, family, friends, church, others; put on Christ and commit the day to him; walk in triumph, freedom, and safety.
Finding A Rhythm of Rest. We struggle with trying to find time for a real 'Sabbath'—a time to take our hands from the plow, let our work lay fallow, and let God and others take care of things. However, it is finding that balance point at which, having rested, we do our work with greater ease and joy, and bring healing and delight to our endeavors—for when we are refreshed we can give more generously to others. Jesus found special times to be with the Father, and to pray. May we follow his example.

Life Tasks: Strength for the Journey. There are six life tasks that all adults encounter, with a different emphasis on each during the various decades of life. You will focus on the one(s) that you choose. The tasks are: The Self, Identity (who am I?); Relationships, Intimacy (who will be with me?); Work, Accomplishment (what will I do?); Health, Wholeness, Freedom (can I achieve balance?); Faith, Spiritual Vitality (will my journey be meaningful?); and Commitment, Contribution (can I make a difference?).

Our Time of Need. What are you currently dealing with? Various points of need are listed (with related Bible verses) and there is space to add other needs. You will choose which area(s) to focus on, and pray about. Examples are: unmet needs; struggling with relinquishment; disappointments and discouragements; going through a barren time; health issues; family concerns; praying for a lost friend or a family member; carrying a heavy burden.

Prayer Areas and Issues. This topic focuses on specific prayer areas and issues such as bearing fruit; Bible study and prayer; finances; future direction and decisions; health, home and family; relationships; rest and renewal; restoration of life and ministry; seeking the Lord's power, strength, and wisdom; service; and submitting to him. There are related Bible verses, questions for reflection, and short readings.

The Servant Leader (separate booklet) Jesus demonstrated the fact that a leader is called to be a servant. The materials describe what leaders must do to follow Jesus' example. First there must be a servant heart—leadership character; then a servant head—leadership methods; next servant hands—leadership behavior, and most important, servant habits-leadership commitment and renewal.
The Topics for Short Retreats. These short retreats can be offered to groups over a weekend, or in sessions over a period of several weeks.

Life Passages and The Missionary Experience. How do our missionary experiences impact on the usual life passages? And how can we find the necessary joy and strength to sustain us? An overview of this retreat will be experienced on the same day the group focuses on the Reflection and Prayer topic Life Tasks. A set of guidelines for leading the retreat is included with the manual.

New Testament Images of Adult Growth and Change. What can we discover about the adult learning process from Biblical images? They have important implications for ways we discover spiritual truth, and how our faith can develop and grow. The six images are New Wine, The Body, The Blowing Wind, The Yoke, The Grain of Wheat, and The Bread and Cup.

Overview of the Let's Pray! Manual (authors: Fran Woods, Chesley (Tiny) and Ruth Ray). The manual provides instruction in facilitating ministry prayer. The Bible lays a strong foundation for healing prayer, and there is a great need for healing in the church and in society. Steps to follow in the facilitation of ministry prayer are listed, with example prayers, worksheets, and other articles and resources to help prepare one to facilitate prayer both individually and in groups.
Application Form Preparing Leaders for Reflection and Prayer Days and Short Retreats in the U.S.: October 1-10, 2008 at Brookhaven and May 13–22, 2009 at Lutheridge. Return the application form electronically to (not pages 1 and 2). Please request the persons sending references to forward those electronically. General information (use more space if needed)
Name _____________________________________________
Branch or Entity _____________________________________
Address ___________________________________________
E-mail __________________________Cell phone ________________________
Are you applying for October 1–10, 2008 or May 13-22, 2009? ________________ If the session of your preference is full by the time we receive your application and references, are you interested in the other session? ______________ or attending in May, 2010? _______________Is a double room acceptable? _______Or do you prefer a single room? _______ ($10 daily surcharge for a single).
How long a member of Wycliffe/SIL? _______________ How long serving in current entity? ____________If not Wycliffe/SIL, work with ______________________________ For how long? ____________Current job ____________________________________________ For how long? ____________Describe your job responsibilities _______________________________________________________________What do you like best about your current job? What do you wish could be different? _________________________________________________ In what other places have you served? ____________________________________________________________
What job(s) did you have? _____________________________________________________________________
Training focus (use more space if needed) What is your background in education and/or training (formal and/or informal course work, seminars, etc.)? What is your background in teaching and/or the delivery of training? ___________________________________What interests you most in considering the possibility of attending the Reflection and Prayer/Retreat training?__________________________________________________________________________
Could you use this training in your current position? ________________________________________________If not in your current position, how do you envision that this training might be useful? _____________________Are you willing to make a commitment to try to begin offering days of R & P after the training? _________________
The Reflection and Prayer Web Site In view of the fact that most of the expenses for this training are covered by a scholarship fund, and that the vision for the training is to get people engaged in a lifestyle of reflection and prayer and then to help others do this also, are you willing to make an on-going commitment to interact with other participants on the reflection and prayer website? __________. Note: Betsy Hopkins, a former participant and staff member, is the current coordinator of the site. If you have any questions about this aspect of the R & P training, before answering the above question, do contact her at If you have limited computer or internet access, we can work with you in other ways to include you in the on-going ministry of sharing R & P with other participants. Any comments, questions, etc. _______________________________________________________________________
Finances If you are requesting financial assistance, please explain why and indicate how much is needed. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ List the name (and number) of the account that should be charged the $75.00 registration fee after your acceptance, and also for any balance due after financial assistance is arranged _______________________________________
If you are not a member of Wycliffe, please mail a check for the registration fee (made out to SIL International) to Dr. Evelyn Davis, 18 Winding Poplar Road, Black Mountain, NC 28711.

References. Ask two persons to write a reference for you. At least one should be an administrator or supervisor at your work, who expresses encouragement and support for your training in Reflection and Prayer, and who speaks to the issue of how you could use this training in the future. Please list the individuals that you are requesting to send the references, and ask them to send them electronically to
Name _______________________________________ Position _________________________________
Name _______________________________________ Position _________________________________

www.sThe training will be done for the Pacific Area November 20 - 29 at Kangaroo Ground in Australia. For information
about that session, contact or .

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Setting All-Church Prayer in Motion

All Aboard: Setting All-Church Prayer in Motion

by Jacquie Tyre

"Hear ye! Hear ye! Starting next month City Community Church will embark upon a new and exciting ministry. Prepare now to be a part and see the blessings of God pour out through this new work!"

"Prepare now…?" How do I do that?

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Whether you are a pastor, lay leader, or member of a congregation, opportunities for church-wide involvement come along almost weekly. We usually think of roles like teaching, serving, greeting, gathering or preparing supplies, contacting people, set-up, or clean-up as ways to be involved. But what about mobilizing people to pray before, during, and after the event?

Such moments within church life are optimum times to initiate a new emphasis on prayer. Whether it's an outreach event, a new ministry focus, a stewardship campaign, a sermon series, or a citywide call for evangelism, this can be an opportunity to engage your congregation in purposeful, strategic prayer. How? By developing or using an existing all-church prayer initiative.

(Please click here to read, print, or email this article from Pray!'s online archives.) Issue #30, May/June 2002. Illustration by Jim Edmond.

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