One day last month, I found myself chuckling during a moment of self-awareness in front of the kitchen sink. As I sipped some morning coffee, the prayerful chattering of my mind was in full gear, even though my body struggled to wake up fully. My thoughts were already in communication with the Lord before my feet had hit the floor, and as I crossed over to the window I saw two squirrels in our backyard. They were clamoring non-stop and jumping wildly across the tree limbs.
Suddenly everything got quiet.
A soft hush filled the air and that is when it hit me. It was as if I heard God say,
“You see, even creation practices silence. You should try practicing it too."
Now, I have grown very comfortable in my relationship with God. I am completely myself as I go through my day with God by my side as a trusted companion. I talk, mostly, never running out of things to say. But, this particular day God wanted me to practice self-control. He had something to say that required my full attention. It was important I stop my tongue-flapping and listen.
It was important I be silent.
In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Harvesting quietness during the day is not always easy, especially in the hectic pace of our 21st century lives. Silence doesn’t feel natural to us. It is not a widely practiced discipline in our culture, so its importance goes demurely unnoticed. But God’s Word says that “being still” can produce a plentiful harvest. It is a time of reaping certain things that grow “louder” through our tranquility. We become more aware of our humility, more hopeful while waiting on Him, and more confident of our trust in His strength when we calm our spirits to a soft whisper and allow Him to speak.
What we gain:
- Humility. When God allowed Job the opportunity to plead his case before Him, Job grew still, because he knew his silence was the only response to God’s omniscient authority. Job became humbly aware of his human finiteness and his lack of understanding completely his struggles.
I am unworthy- how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.
- Hope. David knew that trusting God for his every need put his awareness directly on God’s provision before his own. Having this kind of confident hope changes our entire outlook on life’s ups and downs.
My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
- Deeper trust in God’s strength. There are multiple times in Old Testament scriptures where, during battle, God says to be still and watch for His salvation. Every time we practice waiting quietly on the Lord for victory, our trust grows deeper in Him for handling challenges. [Psalm 46:10; 2 Chronicles 20:17; I Samuel 12:16]
“The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still [while you keep silent].”
These restful attributes are not produced in a single 24-hour period. I think this is why so many of us stop short. Because it’s not a quick fix. It’s counterintuitive to our society’s drive-through pace. Being quiet is a practice that takes time. Just as farmers don’t plant seeds in September to harvest them quickly we must let the soil of our silence grow slowly, over time, so that God may develop these traits in us.
Here are some tips in helping make silence a daily discipline:
- Make the location the same every day.
- Make the time convenient and consistent.
- Keep distractions at bay by unplugging completely from any distractions.
- Pray over the space, for God’s presence to be all powerful within it.
- Keep your space protected. (Do not allow others in your sacred space unless it is a true emergency.)
Like any discipline, it is always good to be realistic with the goals. Don’t shoot for 30 minutes if you only have 5. Don’t convert a corner in the house with fuzzy pillows and candles if you spend most of your alone time in a car. Decide to stay up later than normal if the idea of getting up early makes you stressed out. Use the time in a way that fits you: it’s comfortable for your schedule, personality, and lifestyle, and then ask God to help you be obedient to meet with Him. Out of an obedience and desire to spend time with Him, God will grow rich soil inside your heart. And before long, you might discover being quiet is a worthwhile pursuit.
Father, I am here. I remain silent. I will let you speak. I am listening with anticipation for what You have to say to me today.