Practicing the Silence



Silence is a very difficult thing for most of us.  Silence requires us to stop talking, to turn off that form of noise (whether it is tv, radio, ipod, etc),  and silence commands an attention that is different than passive listening to the world around us.  Silence can shake us to the core, or leave us struggling with our shortcomings.  Silence also offers an oasis from the constant din of the world… honking horns, crying babies, buses passing by, phones ringing, printers, people talking, the sound of a thousand different pieces of music, car mufflers, dogs barking.

We are bombarded by sound on every side.  Life is loud.

But one of my favorite passages of the bible reminds us that God is not heard in the loud fury of a storm, but in the stillness.

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?   – 1 Kings 19:11-13

This passage spoke of Elijah’s encounter with God himself.  So much was going on… there was such a strong wind that there were avalanches, rock slides, earthquakes, fire… and God was not in them.  It was in the still small voice that God was heard.

So i wanted to capture the thought of being still as an important Christian practice.  It is something that is the most impossible, yet the most rewarding thing.  Sitting quietly before the Lord, being intentionally quiet, waiting with ears tuned to listen, and a heart yielded to respond.

This idea of practicing the silent waiting has been an important part of my life even before i know the Lord.  And it was intensified on Good Friday.  I can remember as a small child how different Good Friday was.  Around 11:30 Mom would always remind me that from Noon to 3pm we were going to be quiet, and think about the meaning of good friday – that Jesus died on a cross for us.  In honor and out of respect for this we were not allowed to play, and the tv and radio were turned off.  During these silent hours it was odd how there seemed to be a hush not only over our house, but our neighborhood.  Most of our neighbors followed a similar thought of respect for the holiness of the day.  

As an adult it is much more difficult because i am often at work, but i try to be quiet, to minimize my communication with others, and work quietly.

But the silence is rewarded with the presence of the Lord, and his reminder that he will answer if you ask.

Are we willing to be quiet, to still ourselves long enough to wait for him?


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