Words of Life

Cultivating the Heart to Hear

As we walk through a spiritual desert, attending to God’s voice is the surest way to recover our own. Our prayers to God are important; but his words to us are even more so. When we practice the disciplines of solitude, meditation, and silence, we grow in our ability to hear God’s voice through the Holy Spirit and Scripture.

(from Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer)

Finding myself in need of solitude and silence, several years ago I set aside 40 days of retreat and was surprised by the question I found waiting, a question that was ultimately pregnant with purpose:

In our society today, with its relentless noise, where are the words that matter?

In our society today, with its relentless noise, where are the words that matter?

If I silence the world’s assault on my senses long enough to meditate on this question—if I can resist the incessant clamoring for my attention and consider the precious commodity of words—and their power—I hear words that matter buried in the heart of a prisoner who faces another day in a cell; words of importance in the heart of a single teenage mother who does not know how she is going to pay next month’s health insurance, let alone the rent, let alone childcare; aching words in the heart of a homeless man who has been sexually abused; the unutterable words of parents who have learned their child has cancer.

Here, at last, are words drenched with meaning; words saturated in eternal value; here are words that are inherently intense and absolutely worthy not only of my attention, but of my focus, my time, my support.

Part of my vocation as a spiritual guide and writer involves helping those who do not have a spiritual guide to pray, especially when they are in the greatest pain. Through written words, I accompany and support those who are most vulnerable as they work with God to forge their destiny into reality one prayer at a time.

Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer is designed to help people exercise their voice in prayer and grow in their ability to hear God’s voice, especially in difficult times. As I receive feedback from readers, stories frequently come in from those who are critically hurting. Canyon Road seems to resonate in a special way with the most vulnerable; those who are very ill or dying; women and men facing loss and heartache on seemingly insurmountable scales. My team and I are deeply honored to accompany people in times like these through the spiritual companionship Canyon Road offers.

Following Jesus’ radically personal way, we go about this work as he did—one person at a time, starting with the nearest person, recognizing that “the greatest pain people experience comes from feeling unwanted and unloved” (Mother Teresa). Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer is part of a larger spiritual movement for cultural influencers, spiritual leaders, and those in need; our mission is to create intuitive materials and interactive spaces to help people experience God through Beauty.

Please consider this a personal invitation to explore our creative content; to become part of our global community; and to link into our circle of friendship.

To connect with ATLAS Spiritual Design and learn more about Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer, please visit www.exploreatlas.com.

“If we don’t persevere through the pain and wrestle with God in these moments, we surrender our voice, and we lose something of our true selves, as well as our creative ability, in the process. . . . The fight to recover our voice is a primary way we heal and emerge into new strength, authenticity, and maturity. In order to break through pain into healing, we must press into God’s presence at those points when prayer feels like the last thing we can (or want to) do; we must paint, sing, dance, and create when we feel like giving up. This is where the great masterpieces of our spiritual and artistic lives are born.”

Spiritual pain often wears a mask. Corporate executives living in penthouses on Park Avenue may need spiritual support as acutely as the elderly in nursing homes with no one to visit them. Artists enduring creative desolation under immense financial pressures may need compassion and understanding as desperately as recovering alcoholics in their daily, moment-by-moment fight against enslavement.

No one is immune to the ache of loneliness, or the need for understanding, and the pen has power to address this need, particularly in a spiritual vacuum.

God uses written words to pursue us. Words have capacity to stir our hearts because they are shared person to person. By God’s Spirit, the heart of the writer reaches the heart of the reader and reflects the heart of the One who stands beyond them both. Words have the ability to move us into discovery of what it means to know and be known, the deepest desire of every heart.

This is true in both private devotion and communal worship:

Communication between Jesus and the church is intimate dialogue. Corporate prayer directs people’s hearts to God, with the leader guiding the process through intentional silence as well as the use of words. Silence helps people slow down and quiet their interior lives before God; it is often helpful for the leader to periodically pause, giving people the opportunity to offer personal requests in a quiet space. Leading such significant transactions between God and people requires faith, sensitivity to God’s Spirit, and an active practice of private prayer. The intercessor prays solely through Jesus’ righteousness, depending on the Holy Spirit to guide the prayer and minister his love.

Help me to wait on you.

Give me patience,

Give me grace.

I want to hear your voice,

I want to know your will.

Speak, Lord, your servant listens.

All quotations are from Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer and are used with permission.


Kari Kristina Reeves is the author of Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer, a nearly 500-page collection of prayers that won First Place at the 2013 New York Book Show in the General Trade – Poetry category. As the Founder and Principal of ATLAS Spiritual Design, Inc., Kari provides Christian soul care for artists, designers, and patrons of art worldwide. Kari’s passion and expertise lies in nurturing the artistic spirit and is shaped by her creative background at Entertainment Weekly; ESI Design, one of the world’s foremost experiential design firms; and Christ Church Santa Fe, where she served as Director of Christian Spirituality and Art. A professionally trained ballet dancer, Kari holds a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia.

Reformed Worship 120 © June 2016, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.