Today's first reading from 1 Kings 19 is one of my favorites. Elijah has escaped to the mountain and God is going to pass by. There is a strong wind, an earthquake, and fire. God is in none of them. Them Elijah hears a tiny gentle sound. That is God.
But the only way Elijah could have heard it was to have been quiet. Any noise at all could have drowned it out.
There are many forms of prayer: praise, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, etc. And each has a legitimate place in each person's spirituality. But perhaps the most difficult for us is that prayer in which we simply open our hearts, minds, ears and truly listen.
What the scriptures do not tells us is how much time elapsed between the four events while Elijah was in the cave. In our imagination, I think most of us tend to run them together one immediately after the other. In fact it could have been a very long time. But thankfully Elijah had the discipline needed. This is not something that happens over night but would have grown from years of practice. Discipline, routine, ritual, practice —not really the favorite words of most people.
It's funny. We readily acknowledge that they are essential for games, but then we are reticent to embrace them when it comes to the most important aspect of our life, spirituality.
If silence/listening is not a central part of your prayer life. Perhaps today is the day to start. Start slow, and don't expect immediate success. True listening is harder than you think.