Archive for the ‘Silence and Solitude’ Category

From what I‘ve seen, we don’t practice silence very often. From beginning to end our days are filled with noise and busyness. TVs blaring, Facebook comments to read and remark about, computer games to play, and tight schedules to meet keep us swimming in a sea of noise and distraction.

“So what?” you may say. “I don’t feel good when things get quiet. I like to be distracted by noise and busyness.”

In my case, I have to often force myself to practice silence. Sometimes it feels like a waste of time. I often think that I could be doing something more productive, instead of separating for a little while from the craziness of my world.

However, over the years, I have grown to realize that seeking silence is well worth the effort.

So, why is silence worth seeking?

Why Seek It

I think there are two big reasons to seek silence.

One is to know what is going on inside of us. We often are so distracted by our busyness that we may not realize that, for example, we hate our job and need to move on, are still hurt by being passed over for a promotion last year, or are pretending to be someone different to be approved of by a certain group of people.

Is this stuff important to know? Yes, if we want to heal from our frustration, hurt, and sadness. We can’t deal with problems we don’t know exist.

I used to dread going on vacations because the lid would come off all the issues I was too busy to deal with or was repressing throughout the year.

But now, by practicing silence on a regular basis, I am more able to experience and deal with the issues and feelings as I go along before they boil over into a tsunami of confusion and painful feelings on vacation.

Another big reason to seek silence is to hear the voice of God. God can talk to us through our thoughts and meditations in the quietness of our hearts  during silence. God often talks to us in quiet ways, such as he did with Elijah. “And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper” (1 Kings 19:12, ESV).

We need to hear his voice to remember what reality is. A reality in which God reminds us, “I will help you deal with each problem that you have. I am God, and I can do anything well” (Psalm 46:1; Jeremiah 32:27, Paraphrased).

When we are distracted by our busyness or running away from what is going on inside of us, we often don’t hear what he has to say to us.

So, how do we seek silence?

How to Seek It

First, we have to choose to make it happen. Silence will not be handed to us on a silver platter. Conformity to the noise of the world is so easy. We have to make silence happen.

We can learn how to practice silence by taking an afternoon off a week to relax and quiet our jangled nerves. In that time, we can sit in silence for some time and discover what is going on in our heart and listen to the quiet whispers from God. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

We can also practice silence in our quiet times; car rides, coffee breaks, and walks. In the silence, we can discover in a deeper way to “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). We can learn to let God more into our lives to give us peace and power.

May I encourage you to practice a period of silence this week. Take just a few minutes to quiet your nerves and break from running your world. My prayer is that in this time you will get to know yourself and God in a deeper way!



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Silence is Golden

One lazy Sunday afternoon, several years ago, I spontaneously sat alone in the backyard doing nothing. This felt weird because I usually have an agenda for everything I do.

At first, my thoughts were crowded with current events and problems. But as time passed, thoughts from deep within began to surface.

At times, I would pray about my thoughts. At other times, I would just listen to them.

At the end of an hour, I felt refreshed and renewed. I also had a better perspective on my life. I sensed that I had connected to God in a deep way.

I liked the experience enough to repeat it on a regular basis. I called them “veg times.” I sat like a vegetable and let God bring to mind whatever he wanted. When I got to seminary, I learned that I had been practicing the ancient discipline of silence.

Why would you want to practice silence?

One reason is that silence helps us to receive God’s help and guidance. We learn to “ceasing striving and know that [God] is God”  (Psalm 46:10). We learn that God is the one who makes things happen, and not we.

Another reason for silence is to know ourselves better. God often reveals what our thoughts and feelings are deep within. This helps us know our need for him.

We also gain a better perspective of how special and loved we are to him. We would never fully realize our great worth, acceptance and being loved if we did not take a break once in awhile from trying to earn these things. Keeping busy all the time can doom us to the rat race of trying to impress and perform our way into being loved and special.

In silence, we can better receive them as gifts from God.

God promises, “in quietness and trust shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). Silence is a good way for us to learn to allow God to help us fight our battles.

So, how do we do silence?

We need to look to the Holy Spirit to lead the way (Psalm 139:23-24). Thoughts from our heart will often surface. We need the Holy Spirit to help us sort out our thoughts coming from our heart. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

The Holy Spirit helps us to determine which thoughts are from God and which are not. Some of our thoughts could be from Satan or from ourselves.

One big way we can know God’s voice is to determine if what we hear is biblical. God never speaks contrary to what he says in the Bible.

We also need to work hard at silence. “Be diligent to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11). It may drive us crazy at first. We feel like we are wasting our time and need to get busy. Satan will bring a million things to mind of what we should be doing.

Yet, we need to persevere. Through silence we can learn to better listen to God and to receive from him. Through silence we can grow in our dependence on God making life happen in and through us. And through silence our love relationship with him can deepen.

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