Practicing Silence

A few years ago, Apple introduced a product that became an instant hit: the iPod. As you know, it’s a small MP3 player that can store thousands of songs. You see young people everywhere walking or working with iPod headphones in their ears. The product was so popular that it changed the industry – entire product lines opened up around iPod peripherals, and other product lines were rendered obsolete.

I think that the iPod became so enormously popular because people, especially young ones, are addicted to noise. They feel uncomfortable when there is no sound. When they drive, they have the car stereo on. When they walk, they listen to their iPods. At home, they leave the TV on for background noise. They seem almost afraid of silence.

We need times of silence in our lives. This is especially true for Christians. God speaks to us in a small voice through the Spirit. And the movement of the Spirit is so subtle that it feels like a sixth sense. It can only be discerned in silence.

However, in most worship services there is no time for silence. Even during times of prayer, churches frequently play background music. I think they do this so that the congregation doesn’t become uncomfortable with the silence.

In our Sunday worship service, I introduced a time of silence right after the sermon to give the congregation a time to reflect on the sermon they just heard and make decisions. I also introduced silent time during the Lord’s Supper for us to count our blessings and thank God.

We need to practice silence. We need time to reflect on God’s words in silence. We should not end our prayers after just telling Him what we need, but should ask him to speak to us and wait on Him in silence, and be ready to obey whatever He says.

The book “The Celebration Of Discipline” by Richard Foster, which we use as a text for one of our Life Series classes, has a chapter, “Discipline Of Solitude”. In the class, we practice silence as homework. But doing this once during a class is not enough. We must make a habit out of it.

One way in which we can build a habit of silence is to drive with the car radio off. Sometimes we need to turn off even Christian music and sermon CDs and drive in silence. When we reduce the noise in our lives, we will be able to reflect on our lives and hear God’s voice more easily.

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