Do you long for confidence in God as you make decisions? Do you desire peace, endurance and joy for the mundane and mighty moments of your life? Do you find your mind often cluttered, confused or cloudy? So do I.
When you think of ‘noise’ you probably think auditory, right? And it is. But not entirely. Noise can also be the vast amount of information coming to us every day, from our favorite authors to news outlets to social media feeds. Noise can dull our senses, weaken our focus and numb our desires. But noise is also comfortable. It eases our loneliness. It entertains us. And it is one of the biggest hindrances to our enjoyment and experience of God.
One might say noise is inescapable. How do we avoid it? We don’t, really. But there is a practice not as publicized or as popular but just as transformative and powerful: silence.
Mark Batterson, in his book Whisper, writes “Silence is the difference between sight and insight… between happiness and joy… between fear and faith.”
We’re growing more familiar with the sound of 10, 50, or 100 voices and losing touch with the most important Voice. And one of the best ways to learn the tone and nature of God’s voice is to give Him the space to speak, which means we don’t fill every single moment with our words or another’s. Ruth Haley Barton writes, “The presence of God is poured out most generously when there is space in our souls to receive Him” (Invitation to Solitude and Silence).
But silence can be challenging. And a little uncomfortable. I was resistant even to try this practice of silence because I couldn’t fathom letting go of my well-worn efforts of my ‘quiet time’ with Jesus. I was an expert at sharing my worries and joys. Bible studies, trusted websites and authors, and Christian podcasts became spiritual security blankets, providing answers to my questions, explanations to my concerns, and information for my problems. And it was easy because there is so much great content out there! What I wasn’t expecting was for the noise of my activity in prayer and the constant stream of information to produce fatigue, fogginess and fretfulness in my soul.
David walked this road and found a depth in God I deeply desire, writing, “My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken… My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.” (Psalm 62:1-2, 5)
In silence, our agendas, expectations and distractions are edged out, leaving only us and our transcendent yet personal God. To wait in silence is to come to our Father as we are, honestly, humbly, not hiding our struggles or performing for love. In silence, we position ourselves in the presence of God and find rest for our souls.
Choose a time and a place where you can practice silence. Start small, with a realistic goal, and begin there. Maybe it’s 5 minutes or 30 minutes on your drive to work. You will most likely be bombarded with distractions, tasks, and the temptation to fill the space some sort of noise. Give yourself grace, but lean in to the wonder of acknowledging God’s presence with you (Isaiah 41:10).
Let us not be people who crowd out the inspired Voice of God with inspirational voices. Let us be people who have the capacity to be still in the presence of God, filled and then offer what we receive from Him to those around us. It will take practice, but you are in great company.