The Spiritual Practice Of Silence Stillness And Solitude
In our loud world, it can be hard to hear God. Silence, stillness, and solitude all are tools that we can use to create a space in which to hear God.
Silence and stillness help us listen to what is going on outside of us. They force us to listen and observe. They give us a chance to see what is going on around us, and to see what God is doing around us.
Silence and Stillness also help us to listen to what is going on inside of us. It can be easy to feel rushed in prayer.
We often do not have a lot of time. Usually, our minds are filled with needs and requests.
Stillness and silence can help us to listen in our hearts as well. They can help us settle enough to listen deeply to God in prayer.
The gift of the discipline of silence and stillness is that we connect with God for who we are, not what we do. We often rush and rush trying to earn the approval of God and others, yet we cannot earn our salvation.
We do not earn Gods love. When we sit in silence and stillness with God, we are freed to bask in His presence of beloved children.
Pull out your calendar and find some time to devote to silence. Perhaps it a day where you will be by yourself.
Maybe it is just an afternoon at the library. Find a space of time to make a deeper connection with God!
Bible Verses Referencing Silence
Prayer Vigil by Jim Baker
I have written before about the value of practicing silenceas a spiritual discipline. By and large I find evangelicals prefer extroverted and action oriented expressions of faith, so silence is not something we have traditionally placed a lot of emphasis on. That is why it is a joy to watch those who come to our Casita in rural Northern New Mexico for a retreat or Sabbatical discover the spiritually nourishing benefits of silence. Most leave with an appreciation and hunger for greater silence.
For many though, I find the best way to introduce and challenge them to experiment with the spirituality of silence is to share Bible verses that affirm the importance of silence, as well as quietness, and solitude.
So, below is a list of verses about silence, mostly from the New Revised Standard Version, though any translation will reveal how important silence is. What strikes me most about these passages is that they look at silence, not in the human terms of keeping silent or not speaking out when relating to others, but rather they point us to the beauty and meaning of silence in how we relate to God. These verses taken together make a powerful witness to how silence is an essential discipline and practice for a vital and growing spiritual life.
For God alone my soul in silence waits. Psalm 62:1
To you, O God, silence is praise. Psalm 65:1
But the Lord is in his holy temple let all the earth keep silence before him! Habakkuk 2:20
When Is Speaking Worldly Or Evil
How easy is it for our flesh to dominate an argument? In our pride and foolishness, we itch to prove our point and end up speaking in anger. The Psalmist in 141:3 wisely says, Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth keep watch over the door of my lips!
James tells us:
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
Keeping from slander, gossip, deceit, evil, perversity, quarreling, and lying sounds like a long list of obvious commands. But we must know that our words can feel likesword thrusts , sharp razors , and fire . They can break a persons spirit and destroy our neighbor so if our intention is not to build one another up and give grace to those who are listening , we should control our tongues.
When speaking without the Spirits leading, we may also fall prey to blasphemy, which we need to take seriously. We are to make every prayerful effort not to speak of twisted theology or unbiblical opinion, which could potentially draw believers away from the truth .
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When Life Goes Dark
What can we do when God seems silent and life is dark? We can pray with biblical writers who cry out to God:
To you, O Lord, I call my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
O God, do not keep silence do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
I cry to you for help and you do not answer me I stand, and you only look at me.
We also can remember that, however long the silence seems, God promises it is temporary. Consider Zephaniah 3:17:
The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, he will be quiet in his love, he will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
Just because we cant hear God exulting doesnt mean he is not rejoicing over us with shouts of joy. A blind or deaf child may not see her fathers face or hear his words, but can learn to sense his love and affection nonetheless. The blood-bought promise states that this brief life will be followed with an eternity in which his children will see his face .
Is This Your Best For Me
A pastor friend told me about his experience after his teenage sons death: Nearly every morning, for months, I screamed questions at God. I asked, What were you thinking? And, Is this your best for me? And finally, Do you really expect me to show up every Sunday and tell everyone how great you are? Then, when I became silent, God spoke to my soul. He had an answer for each of my questions.
Waiting on God involves learning to lay our questions before him. It means that there is something better than knowing all the answers: knowing and trusting the only One who does know and will never forsake us .
Trusting God when we dont hear him ultimately strengthens and purifies us. If our faith is based on lack of struggle and affliction and absence of doubt and questions, thats a foundation of sand. Such faith is only one frightening diagnosis or shattering phone call away from collapse. Token faith will not survive the dark night of the soul. When we think God is silent or absent, God may show us that our faith is false or superficial. Upon its ruin, we can learn to rebuild on God our Rock, the only foundation that can bear the weight of our trust.
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Things Everyone Should Know About Humility
Is your understanding of humility Biblically correct? You may be surprised!
There can be a lot of confusion that surrounds humility. Often, humility is associated with quietness, submission and thoughts of inadequacy. But, what does the Bible actually say about it?
Here are four Biblical points that every Christian should know about humility.
Speaking In The Spirit
Whether we are led to speak or to be silent, we remember that it is our duty and privilege to represent Christs cause. Its crucial to seek the Lord and study what his Word says so that were prepared to walk boldly in knowledge and truth. Let us always remember Christs words in Matthew 12:36-37:
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
Judgment for our words sounds frightening, but not for those saved by Jesus Christ. Our sinful nature will cause us to fail, but we can rejoice in the truth that Christ has fulfilled every commandmentto love God and others. So when we eventually stumble into speaking harshly or are tempted to avoid speaking from fear, we can rest on Christs perfect record on our account and move forward with this assurance and motivation.
Ultimately, we can be confident that the Holy Spirit will give us wisdom, discernment, and power when were lacking: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you . In his great mercy, grace, and love, he gives believers the power to be effective.
Today, pray and ask the Lord to remind you of this: Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ .
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What Does God’s Silence Mean
When you hear God’s silence and feel his absence, trust his presence. … But the story behind the story of Christmas is that you can trust God because he literally moved heaven and earth to bring the message of his grace and his forgiveness and his presence to you. God is with us and God is active even when God is silent.
What Does The Bible Say About Silence And Solitude
Like in Mark chapter 6 when he tells them, Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while. Or in Luke chapter 9 when he is praying alone and his disciples are there with him. Read through the Gospels, and youll notice that taking time for silence and solitude is a consistent piece of Jesus ministry.
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What Does The Bible Say About Silence Before God
Oct 4th, 2015 / Salt and Light
LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever. Psalm 131
The practice of silence before God is to be cultivated by every Christian. The discipline of quieting the heart takes practice and silence is not the natural state of fallen man. Jeremiah 57:2021 explains, But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked. What our Lord proposes for our hearts is much like His rebuke of the wind and waves, Peace, be still as Mark 4:3541 records. The wind ceased and there was a great calm.
Davids 131st Psalm expresses the germ of the idea of the discipline of silence for the Christian. In the first verse David teaches that silence before God produces satisfaction in the Lord that displaces pride. From all the previous texts we observe that authentic humility in the presence of Majesty will always produce silence. This is why godliness may be defined as standing in awe in the presence of God.
His Silence Is A Matter Of Perspective
Theres a sense in which God is never silent. He has already spoken in his word and by becoming man and dying for us on the cross, purchasing our eternal salvation. This is speech, and speech is not silence! What we call Gods silence may actually be our inability, or in some cases our unwillingness, to hear him. Fortunately, that hearing loss for Gods children need not be permanent. And given the promise of resurrection, it certainly wont be permanent.
Psalm 19:1 tells us the heavens shout about Gods glory. Romans 1:20 shows how clearly creation proves Gods existence. God speaks not only through his word, but also through his world. When my heart is heavy, walking our dog Maggie or riding a bike through Oregons beauties is often better than listening to a great sermon or reading a good book.
Still, when we cant hear God, we can keep showing up and opening his word, day after day, to look at what he has already said and done and contemplate and memorize it until we realize this is not silence but is God speaking to us. Naturally, there remains a subjective sense in which we long to hear God in a more personal way. God spoke to Elijah in a low whisper .
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Silence Can Be Used To Bring Glory To God
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Exodus 14:14
But Joshua commanded the people, You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout. Joshua 6:10
Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near the LORD has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests. Zephaniah 1:7
Humility Means Submission But Not Groveling
Humility and submission go hand in hand. Gods Word tells us that, as Christians, we are to submit to one another in lowliness of mind. Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5-6.
At the same time, being submissive and humble does not mean in any way, shape or form that we are to bow down to other people. Paul was very clear when he said that we are to serve God and God alone. For, you were bought at a price do not become slaves of men. 1 Corinthians 7:23. He also writes: For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. Galatians 1:10.
While it is important to be submissive: to accept correction and remain lowly in our own eyes, as Christians, we are to seek to please God with our lives. We need to fear Him and keep His word. This should be our focus: to humble ourselves under Gods will and live and breathe to keep His commands, not to try to meet human demands and expectations.
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Humility Means We Use Our Talents And Capabilities
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12: 3. To have a humble mindset is to think soberly about oneself. This means that we dont boast of our own accomplishments and abilities. Rather, we acknowledge that our sufficiency is of God in all of things.
Nonetheless, this does not mean that we should neglect the gifts and the heavenly calling that God Himself has given to us. God wants to do a tremendous and transforming work in us and through our lives! He has equipped us each with our own talents and gifts and bought us with the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
God desires to be able to use us to His glory and for His purpose, and each of us should be aware of this. Humility is that we use our talents and capabilities under Gods direction and leading, giving Him the honor and glory for what is accomplished in and through our lives.
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11.
Jesus Was Silent In The Bible
And the high priest stood up and said, Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you? But Jesus remained silent. Matthew 26:62-63a
Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: Like a sheep, he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. Acts 8:32
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7
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Church As Silent Witness
Being silent is not only part of how we obey and glorify the King . It is also how we bless others as we are lovingly quick to listen and slow to speak . Silence is thus an unspoken virtue: part of the churchs vocation and the Christians delight.
Much more could be said on the topic. But now its time for practical application.
William Ross is a doctoral candidate in Old Testament at the University of Cambridge, where his research focuses on the book of Judges. He recently co-authored the Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek, and blogs regularly at williamaross.wordpress.com. You can .
When Is Silence Best And Blessed
Naturally, when we are not opening our mouths, we are more inclined to open our ears whether toward others or toward God. We are forced into self-reflection and obedience in our silence, which will only further our ability to listen to the Spirit.
Silence is best in moments of anger. When we are angry, theres a high likelihood that our words will not be produced by the Holy Spirit. James 1:19 instructs us: Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Similarly, Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit .
Scripture tells us that silence can help us avoid sinning , gain respect , and is deemed wise and intelligent . In other words, you may be blessed by holding your tongue.
Ultimately, refraining from speaking in certain situations means we are practicing self-control. Maintaining our composure can be challenging! We are to seek wisdom in controlling our tongue, for when we control it, we are ultimately walking by the Spirit. And we know that self-control, a fruit of the Spirit , is a discipline that is blessed.
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