Silence. If we are honest, a lot of us are not comfortable with silence. Our lives include so much noise that we are more comfortable with commotion than quiet. We surround ourselves with noise – music, television, podcasts, phones that never leave our side, even machines to make sounds that help us go to sleep. We fill every moment with some kind of background noise.
The quiet part of prayer is the hardest for many of us. We sit down and start talking, which is good. God wants to hear from us, wants us to speak our minds and our hearts. He wants to hear our praises, our declarations, and our requests. But then comes the listening part. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” In The Message paraphrase, it says, “Step out of the traffic!” In order to listen, we need to be open to the experience of true silence.
It’s harder to be quiet and listen for God’s voice. How do we learn how to be still and listen? First, we have to practice silence. It is necessary, in order to get used to the lack of commotion, to find a time and place every day to spend at least a few minutes in as complete quiet as you can. To help settle into the quiet, you might listen to your own breath, or concentrate on a single word that represents an attribute of God. At first, it will probably be hard. If you keep practicing, though, you will eventually experience true stillness. And in that stillness, you will begin to listen for God to speak.
This weekend at Resurrection we will hear about Elijah, the prophet who listened to God.
In I Kings 19:11-13, Elijah experiences a powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But God was not in any of them. The voice of God came in “a gentle whisper” (I Kings 19:11-13). As you practice silence in God’s presence, you will clear your heart and mind to hear that gentle whisper and experience the listening side of prayer.
Congregational Care and Prayer Ministry