We continue our series called, From Screens to Stillness. In it, we will look at the challenges we face today that keep us from silence and contemplative prayer, we will explore the gift of technology in our spiritual lives, and also ways for us to embrace stillness and silence in this age of screens. We’ve looked at the challenges of screens in our life and the practice of contemplative prayer, and move today to screens as a support in our stillness.
While the screens in our lives can leave us overly attached, distracted, lacking creativity, and tired, they can also be wonderful tools to helping us embrace stillness in our lives. This week let’s look at how screens can support stillness and contemplative prayer in our lives.
There are many ways that technology has made it easier to have prayer aides readily available for us to use in our “on the go lives”. Our phones hold the ability to give us access to music, to guided prayer reflections, to written prayer reflections, spiritual books, podcasts and so much more. On retreats and in my spiritual direction ministry, I often share some of my favorite online tools that can support our prayer lives.
One of my favorite things about my phone is the ability to have all kinds of music at my fingertips. This makes traveling for retreat ministry easier. Do you remember the days of hauling CD players and CDs? It also means that I have access to favorite songs that ground me, inspire me, and strengthen me. My car ride around town for errands or carpooling my children can become times of prayer and praise, letting the music I listen to match where God and life has me at the moment. Perhaps, I’m celebrating a moment of clarity and feeling full of life. Music I listen to can fill my car and echo and strengthen those graces within me. Maybe it’s a song of comfort I need or a song to help me anchor into a promise of God.
Music can not only fill my car, but it can be part of my daily prayer time in the morning as well. Sometimes when I feel very distracted in prayer, I will grab my phone and quietly play a song to help prayerfully still me in the early morning.
Here are some of my favorites in Spotify playlists. I think you do need a Spotify account to view/listen to these, but it is free.
There are tons of apps we can download on our phone that offer guided reflections either by audio or written word. I suggest this often to people as tools to bring into their daily prayer. It enables us to commit to a daily prayer time when we always have our prayer method and prayer material with us. Here are some to get your started:
- Re-Imagining the Examen – 30 guided examens
- Sacred Space by the Irish Jesuits – Daily scripture reflections
- JesuitPrayer – Daily readings and scriptures reflections
- 3 minute retreat by Loyola Press – A short reflection
- Pray As You Go by the British Jesuits
- Laudate’ on Google Play and Apple
- Give Us This Day – my favorite print scripture reflection also gives you an app subscription when you purchase it
While I am not a big podcast fan, I know so many people who use this gift to deepen their spiritual lives and relationship with God through listening to others’ faith stories and such.
Here are a few recommended by friends that are guided prayer or reflection-focused as opposed to talk show/interview style:
- The Examen with Fr. James Martin, SJ – A new 18-minute episode added each Sunday with a short reflection and a guided examen.
- Pray As You Go – This podcast from the British Jesuits is almost daily- only one post for the weekend- offering music and a reflection on a scripture from that week’s readings.
- God in All Things – From my friend and colleague Andy Otto, SJ, offering Ignatian reflections.
- Contemplative at Home – Guided meditative prayer based in Ignatian Spirituality
A surprising gift of screens in my own life and also in my ministry is the ability to meet with people for spiritual direction via video conference. At times in my life, I’ve met my own spiritual director this way as well. I am finding more and more people do not have access to a spiritual director in their area. I am steadily embracing the gift of screens to accompany people deeper in their walk with Christ. People who once were not able to meet with a director because of their life circumstances or not having anyone close by now have access to one. The spiritual director can walk with someone and help them develop daily disciplines of prayer and stillness.
We just recently had our January Online Busy Person’s Retreat. Screens allowed the spiritual directors to accompany people for four days in a row using screens. Mark your calendars! The Lenten Online Busy Person’s Retreat is coming up March 16-19, 2020.
I’m learning, too that several people have interest in using screens to make an online retreat. Besides the Online Busy Person’s Retreat, I recently created the six-week self-guided retreat called Overwhelmed No More. While I had some hesitation to answering this call from God, we are quickly seeing the value in offering an online format. Yet again, screens helping us move to stillness, silence, and closer in our walk with God.
Do I use screens to invite me deeper in my walk with Christ? What ways could I use screens to support my call to contemplative prayer, silence, and stillness?
- Let me guide you in audio prayer reflections on my Soundcloud channel.
- Get more audio prayer tools from the British Jesuits here.
- Want more music? Here’s a Marian Playlist and a You Will Be Comforted playlist both made by my friend and big-picture co-worker Kathy Powell.
- Register for my new online retreat that brings the preached retreat experience to your email with content sent weekly for you to work through individually, on your own schedule, giving you resources to help you find stillness and build a prayer practice, “Overwhelmed No More: 6 Ways to Discover and Live God’s Vision for Your Life”.
Inviting you Deeper as We Walk with Christ:
- I’ll be at RECongress in Los Angeles!! February 21-23, 2020. I am thrilled to be part of the presentation, Start with Jesus, in the Arena and the workshop, The Gift of the Inner Chapel.
- Calling all my Southern Louisiana ladies! March 10, 2020: Women of the Well Lenten Evening of Reflection “Clearing the Path: Simplifying the Road to Christ”
- Online Busy Person’s Retreat: This special Lenten edition is coming March 16-19, 2020.
- Sign up for my Prayer Team and pledge to pray for the weekly prayer requests posted on my Facebook & Instagram, and for the attendees of upcoming events. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.