Let us go on now to the part silence plays in our advancing experience of Christ, for silence has a great deal to do with experiencing the Lord on a deeper plane.
On occasion some people have heard the term "the prayer of silence" and have concluded that the role the soul is to play in this prayer is one of dullness, deadness and inactivity. This, of course, is not the case. As a matter of fact, the soul plays a higher, more extensive role than in spoken prayer.
How is this possible?
The soul can be active and yet utterly silent. This is because it is the Lord Himself who has become the mover of the soul. The soul acts in response to the moving of His Spirit.
For all who are being led by the Spirit, these are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
Therefore, to engage in "the prayer of silence" does not mean that you cease all action. Instead, it means your soul acts by the moving of your spirit.
Perhaps Ezekiel can help us see this. Ezekiel had a vision of wheels. These wheels he saw had the living Spirit with them. Wherever the Spirit went, there the wheels went. If the Spirit stood still, the wheels stood still. If the Spirit ascended up from the earth into the heavens, the wheels rose up close beside.
The Spirit was in those wheels, and the wheels were moved by the Spirit. (Ezekiel 1:19-21) The soul is like those wheels. The soul can be active after its own things, or it can wait - wait until something deeper stirs. Then the soul becomes like those wheels, following the Spirit wherever it goes. The soul should, in the same way, yield to the leading of the living Spirit within. The soul should wait and be faithful to act only when the Spirit moves.
You can be sure that the Spirit never exalts the self-nature. (The soul, following its own inclination, so often does exalt the self.) What does the Spirit do? The Spirit moves forward, plunging toward the ultimate end. And what is that ultimate end? It is union with God.
Therefore, let the soul do nothing of itself in prayer. The soul must simply follow the Spirit until it reaches its ultimate end!
By this illustration I believe you can see that the soul does not cease all action. Its action is simply in perfect concert with the Spirit.
Let us go on now to consider "the prayer of silence" in a practical way. How do you begin to experience the Lord in an attitude of silence?
You see, when your soul is active on its own - that is, active apart from the activity of the Spirit - then by its very nature its activity is forced and strained! The soul's effort in prayer is always that of anxiety and striving.
This is actually to your advantage! You can easily distinguish when the soul is functioning!
Oh! All is so different when the soul is responding to the moving of the Spirit - responding to something far deeper within your being.
When the soul is responding to the Spirit, the action is free, easy and natural. It will seem that you are putting forth almost no effort at all.
He brought me forth into a large place; He delivered me, because He delights in me. (Psalm 18:19)
Once your soul has turned within and once your mind is set on the Spirit, from that moment on the inward attraction of the Lord's Spirit is very powerful. In fact, the attraction of your spirit toward the soul is stronger than any other force - stronger than those things which would draw you back to the surface.
The truth is, nothing is as quick to return to its center as is the soul to the Spirit!
Is the soul active at this time? Yes! But the activity is so exalted, so natural, so peaceful, and so spontaneous that it will seem to you that your soul is making no effort at all!
Have you ever noticed that when a wheel rolls slowly, it is easy to see all of it. But as the wheel turned faster, you can distinguish very little. This is the soul at rest in God. When the soul is at rest in God, its activity is spiritual and very exalted. Nonetheless, the soul is engaging in no effort. It is full of peace.
Therefore, hold your soul at peace.
The more peaceful your soul is, the more quickly it is able to move toward God, its center.
How is this possible? Because the soul is yielded to the spirit, and it is the Spirit that is moving and directing!
What is attracting you so strongly to your inward parts? It is none other than God Himself. And, oh, His drawing of you causes you to run to Him.
The girl in the Song of Songs understood this, for she said:
Draw me, we will run after You. (Song of Solomon 1:4)
"Draw me to Yourself, Oh my Divine Center, by the secret springs of my existence, and all my powers and senses will follow you!"
The Lord is so simple in His attraction of you. This attraction of His is both an ointment to heal and a perfume to allure you to Himself. The maiden in the Song of Songs said it:
We follow the fragrance of Your perfume! (Song of Solomon 1:3)
"Lord, You attract us by the fragrance of Your very being, and You draw us so deeply within to Yourself!"
His attracting force is extremely powerful, and yet the soul follows freely and without force. Why? Because the attracting of your Lord is just as delightful as it is powerful! Although His attracting of you is powerful, it carries you away by its sweetness.
When the young maiden said, "Draw me, and we will run after you," she was speaking, first of all, of her spirit - the center of her being. It is the spirit which is being drawn. The Lord speaks to your spirit: He calls you to follow Him by drawing your center where there is only Himself. So your spirit is attracted first. You, in turn, follow the attraction of the center. You do so by turning your attention and all the powers of your soul on Him. "Draw me" - see the oneness of your center, your spirit, as it is drawn to Him who is the very inmost part of your center. "We will run after you" - see how the senses and powers of the soul follow the attraction of the center.
We are not promoting the idea that the soul should be lazy or inactive. We are encouraging the highest activity the soul can engage in: Total dependence on the Spirit of God. This should always be your main concern. It is "in Him alone that we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)
This simple, humble dependence on the Spirit of God is necessary above all other things. This constant dependence on our part will soon cause the soul to reach that unity and that simplicity for which it was created.
We are so complex; our souls are capable of so much diverse activity. We must leave these ways so that we will be free - free to enter the simplicity and the unity of God. Oh, to return into God, into the One in whose image we were originally formed! (Genesis 1:27)
Your Lord is simple; He is one. But when you enter into the unity of God, His oneness does not rule out the great variety that is the expression of His nature. Just as we enter into His unity when we are united to His Spirit and are made one with Him, in the same way we are also able to carry out the various aspects of His will when we are united with Him. And we can do this without having to leave that state of union with God. The variety of His will can be carried out without the sacrifice of our oneness with Him.
So now you perhaps can see where the simple "prayer of silence" can lead!
Let us go on!
Yield yourself to the guidance of the Spirit of God. By continuing to depend upon His action, and not that action of the soul, the things you do will be of value to God. Only what you do in this way is of value to God and to His work on this earth.
Let us see this from God's point of view.
All things were made by the Word, and without Him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:3)
In the very beginning it was God who formed man by His Word. He made man in His own image. God was Spirit and He gave man a spirit so that He could come into him and mingle His own life with man's life.
This, of course, was the state of man before the Fall. At the time of the Fall, man's spirit was deadened. God lost His chance to move into man's spirit. Man lost the ability to contain the life of God and to bear the image of God.
It was very plain to see that if God were ever to restore man to what He intended him to be, man's spirit would have to be restored.
And how could God restore man's spirit? How could He restore the image of God in man?
By none less than Jesus Christ. It had to be the Lord Jesus Himself who gave life to man's spirit and restored the image of God. Why? Because Jesus Christ alone is the exact image of His Father. He alone brings the life of God into man.
No image can be repaired by its own efforts. The broken image has to remain passive under the hand of the workman.
What is your activity in this restoration? Your only activity should be to yield yourself completely to the inner workings of the Spirit. Jesus Christ has come into you, into your inmost parts. Yield to His workings there.
If a canvas is unsteady, the artist is unable to paint an accurate picture upon it. The same is true of you. Every movement of the self produces error. The activity of the self interrupts and defeats the design which Jesus Christ wishes to engrave upon you. You must, instead, simply remain at peace. Respond only to the Spirit's working.
Jesus Christ has life in Himself (John 5;26), and He must give life to every living thing.
This principle - the principle of utter dependence upon the Spirit and complete denial of the activity of the soul - can be seen in the church.
Look at the church. The Spirit of the church is a moving, life-giving Spirit. Is the church idle and barren and unfruitful? No! The church is full of activity. But her activity is this: Complete dependence on God's Spirit. That Spirit moves her. That Spirit gives her life.
This principle functions in the church, and it is this principle which causes the church to be what she is. The exact same principle should operate in you! What is true of her should be true of her members. To be her spiritual children, you must be led by the Spirit.
The Spirit in you is active. The activity that is produced in your life as a result of following the Spirit is a much higher activity than any other.
(An activity is worthy of only as much praise as its source. An activity that comes as a result of following the Spirit is more praise-worthy than any other activity coming from any other source. Whatever is produced from God's Spirit is divine. Whatever comes from self, no matter how good it appears, is still only human, still only the self.)
Your Lord once declared that He alone has life. All other creatures have "borrowed" life. The Lord has life in Himself. That life, which is in Him, also carries with it His nature. This is the unique life which He desires to give to you. He wishes to give you divine life, and He wishes you to live by that life instead of the life of your soul. At the same time, you should make room for denying your soul, that is, denying the activity of your own life. The only way you can make room for the life of God to dwell in you and to live in you is by losing your old Adam life and denying the activity of the self.
Why? Because this life you are receiving is the very life of God, the same life God lives by! Paul said,
If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
But, and I repeat, the only way this becomes practical experience to you is by dying to yourself and to all your own activity so that the activity of God can be substituted in its place.
Going back, then, to what was said at the beginning of the section, the "prayer of silence" does not forbid activity; it encourages it. It encourages the divine activity of your spirit; it discourages the lower activity of your soul. Such a prayer, then, must be in absolute dependence on the Spirit of God. The activity of the Spirit must take the place of your own. Such an exchange can only take place with man's consent.
In giving your consent, you must also, of course, begin to cease your own activity. The outcome will be that, little by little, the activity of God can completely take the place of the activity of the soul.
There is a beautiful example of this in the Gospels. You will recall that Martha was doing something which was very correct, and yet the Lord rebuked her! Why? Because what she was doing, she was doing in her own strength. Martha was not following the moving of the Spirit within her.
You must realize, dear reader, that the soul of man is naturally restless and turbulent. Your soul accomplishes very little even though it always appears busy.
The Lord said to Martha, "You are careful and troubled over so many things. But only one thing is needed! Mary has chosen that good part which shall not be taken from her." (Luke 10:41-42)
And what had Mary chosen? She had chosen to rest peacefully and tranquilly at the feet of Jesus. She had ceased to live that Christ might be her life!
This illustration highlights just how necessary it is for you to deny yourself and all your activity to follow Jesus Christ. If you are not led by His Spirit, you cannot follow Him.
When His life comes in, your life must be put away. Paul Said, "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
David once said how good it was to draw near to the Lord and to put his trust in Him. (Psalm 73:28) What does it mean to "draw near to God"?
Drawing near to God is, infact, the beginning of union!
We began this section speaking of the prayer of silence. We then went on to the soul's following the Spirit in perfect concert. Now we have come to the final, deepest experience with God - the ultimate Christian experience. It is union with God.
The experience of union with God comes to us in four stages: its beginning, its progress, its achievement. and its consummation. (We will discuss the experience of union in the final section of this book.)
The experience of union begins very simply when there is born in you a desire for God. And when is that? When the soul begins to turn inward to the life of the Spirit; when the soul begins to fall under the powerful, magnetic attraction of that Spirit. At this point, an earnest desire for union with God is born!
Once your soul has begun to turn within to the Spirit, it moves nearer and nearer to God. This is the progress toward union.
Finally, the soul is one spirit with Him. It is here at last that the soul, which has wandered so far away from God, returns again to the place for which it was created!
You must enter into this realm. Why? Because this is the purpose of all God's working in you.
If any man does not have the Spirit of Jesus Christ, he does not belong to Him. (Romans 8:9)
For you to be utterly Christ's you must be filled with His Spirit and emptied of your own self-life. Paul tells us just how necessary it is to be of this Spirit.
As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
There is a Spirit! And the Spirit who makes us sons of God is the same Spirit who does the working of God deep within us.
You have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption whereby you cry "Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15)
Who is this Spirit that works in you? He is none other than the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Through this Spirit we are made to share in His Sonship.
The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:16)
When you yield yourself to the leading of this wonderful One, you will sense within you that you are a son of God. Furthermore, you will know the added joy of receiving, "not the spirit of slavery, but of liberty, even the liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:15) Expect this to be the outcome of your walk. You will discover that you are able to act freely and easily, and yet you will also act with strength and certainty.
The working of the Spirit deep within you must be the source of all your activity. Let me repeat: All activity - both that which is surface and visible, as well as that which is hidden and internal - must come from the working of the Spirit.
Paul illustrates this in the book of Romans. He shows us our ignorance even in what we pray for. He declares that it is the Spirit who must pray.
The Spirit also helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should; but the Spriit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)
This is plain enough: We do not know what we need! We do not know how to pray for the things we need. In fact, we do not know how to pray! Ah, but the Spirit who lives inside us knows what and how to pray. The One to whom you have given yourself knows everything!
If that be true, shouldn't you therefore allow Him to pour out His unutterable groanings on your behalf?
You cannot always be sure about your own prayer. But, oh, the Spirit is always heard when He prays.
The Lord Jesus said to His Father, "I know that you always hear me." (John 11:42) It follows that if you freely allow the Spirit to pray and to intercede in place of your own prayers, then the prayers He prays from within you will be heard - always!
Is this a certainty?
Listen to the words of Paul, that skillful mystic and master of the inward life.
He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27)
The Spirit seeks only what is the will of God! At last, here is One who is wholly abandoned to the will of God! The Spirit utters in prayer only what is the will of God.
God's will is that you be saved; His will is that you be perfect. Therefore, the Spirit is interceding in you for all that is necessary for your perfection.
If the Spirit is fully able to care for all your needs, why should you burden yourself with unnecessary cares? Why weary yourself with so much activity, never stopping to enter the rest of God?
the Lord invites you to cast all your care on Him. The Lord - who is full of mercy - once complained that the soul wastes its strength and its treasures on a thousand outward things. Yet all the desires of the soul can easily be satisfied.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat that which is good, and delight yourself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:2)
Come to know the joy of listening to God in this way, dear reader! How greatly your soul is strengthened by so hearing your Lord.
Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord. (Zechariah 2:13)
All things must cease when He appears.
The Lord is calling you to an even greater abandonment...one with nothing held back. He has assured you that there is nothing to fear because He takes very special care of you.
Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15)
How much comfort there is in these words! Who, after hearing this, will fear abandoning himself wholly to the call of God?
Next week: The Constant State
Notes: Please don't forget, as stated at the beginning of this book, to try replacing the word 'soul'
with the word 'will.' The 'will' being our choices, our determinations, and our self-
Also, this study will include a total of 12 Parts.