“The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: Silence and Solitude” A video tutorial by John Mark Comer
Many of us live and grow up in a culture of speed. But according to John Mark Comer, this frenetic pace of life can come with a huge price tag. In his book, “Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World,” Comer argues for a different pace of life based on the way of Jesus. In the first of his video tutorial series on the Elimination of Hurry, Comer outlines why silence and solitude is essential to grow spiritually and how Christians can cultivate this practice in their daily lives.
The case for slow over a culture of speed
John Mark Comer lives in Portland, USA, one of the country’s most secular, post-Christian cities and has come to agree with theologian Dallas Willard that the biggest enemy of spiritual life in contemporary life is hurry. Comer observes:
“I have a firm conviction that hurry is incompatible with the love, joy and peace which are right in the centre of Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God. I don’t think I can live a life with Jesus in the Kingdom of God and live a life of speed.”
If you look to Jesus for practical guidance and read the four Gospels, one of the first things you would see in Jesus is how he would oscillate back and forth between time in community and then time in the quiet place. Jesus would put on pause his relationships with others and ministry and on a regular basis practice solitude. The gospels make a strong case for slow over a culture of speed.
Finding a quiet place
To follow in the footsteps of Jesus by practicing silence and solitude, Comer recommends finding a quiet or distraction-free space as possible. It may be your living room, study or a nearby park where you can rest before God. Comer continues:
“Jesus is so gracious to meet us where we are, our level of maturity, our level of awareness and connection with the Spirit of God.”
Comer recommends setting a modest goal if having a quiet time is new to you. For most people beginning the practice of silence and solitude, a goal of 10-15 minutes 2 to 3 times a week is not too daunting. If you already practice silence and solitude, Comer suggests increasing your quiet time to 30 mins or 1 hour a day, having your attention and affection directed towards God, as His affection and attention is directed towards you.
Feeling and Listening Prayer
We all have emotions and not all of them are pleasant or positive. In our culture, what we do with our unpleasant emotions is that we stuff them down, deny them, ignore them or self-medicate. For many of us our emotions are the core part of the soul and where we meet with God as we see through the Psalms.
When we commit to feeling and listening prayer we give room to feel uncomfortable emotions. In the quiet of a prayerful state, we should name what we feel without judgement, whether that’s anger, fear, bitterness, or envy. You bring the emotional pain before God and release it to Him. Comer recommends that this feeling and listening prayer allows us to process and move forward from difficult emotions. He notes:
“You let go with the need for life to be the way you want in order to live with peace and with joy and with love”
For some people, they may feel the need to wrestle with God and petition their requests before Him. This also has a strong precedent in the Scriptures as we see in Abraham, Jacob and King David where they brought their desires to God. Ultimately, making a practice of feeling and listening prayer will help you give God space to speak into your circumstances, however painful or unsettling they may be.
Lectio Divina is a contemplative way of reading the Bible- a reflective savouring of the Scriptures. It is Latin for “Divine reading” and dates back to the early centuries of the Christian Church as it was established as a monastic practice.
While there are a variety of ways to unpack the Scriptures, such as a daily reading plan like Bible in One Year or listening to expository teaching, lectio divina allows the Word to speak to the reader as you read the Bible slowly, several times looking for any particular words or text that shimmers or connects with your heart. Comer continues:
“You let God speak to you through the text and by the Spirit.”
By taking one verse at a time, you ruminate on Scripture until it penetrates the exterior of things, helping you to rest in the ultimate reality of God.
RetreatTo draw aside from the chaos of the world, a helpful exercise is to go away on a retreat out in nature. Drawing aside to reflect and to listen to the voice of God at least once a year will help you overcome the urge to stay busy and give you space to reflect and recharge. Your retreat may be a day, a half day or a week- whatever you need to live an emotionally healthy and spiritually vibrant life. When we are truly walking in the way of Jesus, we move back and forth between community and silence and solitude says Comer. What we discover is that the way of Jesus leads to rest. Jesus called this the easy yoke in Matthew 11:28-30. Rather than the yoke of the world that brings stress, trauma and turbulence, Jesus yoke is joyful, restful and companionship with Jesus Himself.
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About John Mark Comer
John Mark Comer lives, works and writes in the urban core of Portland, Oregon, with his wife and three children. He is the pastor for teaching and vision at Bridgetown Church. Prior to planting Bridgetown, John Mark was the lead pastor of a suburban megachurch. John Mark has a Master’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary and is the author of Loveology, My Name is Hope, Garden City and God Has a Name.