Week Four: The Community of Prayer

Befriending Silence

Reading Carl McColman’s Befriending Silence, I found the two biggest takeaways to be the importance of living a life in community and a life of prayer. These two ways of life might at first seem like opposites. Contemplative prayer, after all, is often undertaken in solitude. If we happen to be writers, we spend even more time alone!

Yet McColman reminds us that prayer, even silent prayer, makes us part of a larger community. This is a gift and, for non-monastics, sometimes a challenge. Here’s what McColman has to say about community:

The Cistercian way of life rests on the idea that spirituality needs community.


Monks and nuns enjoy the support of a community that prays together multiple times every day, where everyone is expected to take part in the liturgy in a public way. Those of us who are not monastics . . . do not have an abbot or abbess who will check up on us if we start skipping prayers, so we have to be truly intentional about our decision to make prayer a priority.


Christian prayer always has a communal or social dimension to it, even when we pray in solitude . . . Prayer makes a difference in our lives, not just in terms of personal spiritual growth but also as a means by which we discover God’s love and compassion expressed for the world.


When we pray for our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, our community and nation, as well as our adversaries, enemies, competitors and opponents, the space to slowly, gradually grow in compassion and love opens within us.


Read more here.

For reflection:

McColman Week 4