This gem, from A.W. Tozer, is my 11th commandment. This is the rule by which I want to live in this season of becoming reacquainted with the quiet, contemplative part of myself:
Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelopes you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it.
Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work.
Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Never let your mind remain scattered for very long. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration.
—A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men
I’ve created a prayer corner in my bedroom: three icons, a pillow to kneel on, my prayer book. Someday, I’m going to get a prie dieu so I can include a candle and my prayer beads and a few more devotional books in my prayer corner. For now, the pillow suffices.
This is where I “retire from the world each day.” It’s not perfect. I can still hear every sound in the house. But Tozer seems to think that external silence is not the point. Internal silence is. Learning to practice the presence of God right where I am, with children building forts and playing Legos in the other room, is the point. Marshaling my unruly, roving thoughts and focusing them on the Still Small Voice is the point. And I can do that, imperfectly, right where I am.
So can you. Where do you retire from the world? And if you don’t, where might you carve out a corner, some private spot, to still the inner noise and listen to the inward Voice?
(Thanks to Dick Staub for sharing Tozer’s words on his site, so I could share them on mine.)