On Silence

Yeah. We need to work on this.

Let none disparage the benefits of silence; for unless they grow lax, the secluded live better than the social...

  - Columbanus, Letter to Certain Bishops, Irish, 7th century[1]

But the L
ORD is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.

  - Habakkuk 2.20

Contemporary believers are a busy, noisy lot.

We like activity and we like it loud. Christian families are busy in all kinds of activities. And in a typical service of worship, the musicians are so loud that the worshipers can’t even hear themselves singing.

And apparently, we like it that way.

We are constantly on the move or sitting in front of noisy forms of technology, busying ourselves with whatever noise we have chosen to entertain or distract us for the moment. Busy, busy; noisy, noisy. Contemporary Christianity with a secular flair.

I’m persuaded the noisiness of secularism is just a way of drowning out the emptiness in most folks’ lives. So what’s our excuse?

We’re not much on silence. Yet God calls us to silence, as Habakkuk reminds us. There is a time for silence, Solomon insisted (Eccl. 3.1, 7), and we should learn to make the most of it. Silence is a place to renew our strength (Is. 41.1) as we focus on and commune with the Lord.

In silence God is able to speak to us, to make Himself known and show us His glory, weighing on us and pressing in on us by His awesome Presence, and bringing us into participation in Him, where we shudder with fear and delight.

In silence the Spirit can make clear the meanings of difficult passages of God’s Word, as He brings to mind Scripture from here and there to shed light on the unclear text that puzzles us (1 Cor. 2.12, 13).

In silence the Lord searches our hearts and brings us to confession and repentance (Ps. 139.23, 24).

In silence the Spirit prompts us to plan the good works for that day which will touch others with the grace of God (Ps. 90.12, 16, 17).

In silence we contemplate the majestic beauty and greatness of the Lord and feel our hearts and minds echoing the voices of the unseen realm – “Glory!” (Ps. 29.9)

Silence is the great meeting ground where earth and heaven, the seen and the unseen, meet, mingle, and merge. But silence takes time, and learning to practice silence before the Lord can be a difficult challenge for a people addicted to busyness and noise.

But you’ll never know what you're missing in the silence until you learn to go there and wait, and wait, and wait for Him Who, in the midst of the silence, can work transforming grace and power into your life.

The Lord calls us to wait in silence before Him.

Will you make the time?

For Reflection
1. What could you do to bring more time for silence into your relationship with the Lord?

2. How might you expect to benefit from spending more time in silence before the Lord?

Psalm 46.10, 11 (St. Chrysostom: (We Have Not Know Thee As We Ought)
Rest in the Lord and be at peace, all who are mired in sore travail:
lift up our God, praise Jesus our Lord; proclaim to all the earth His Word!
God is our stronghold, never to fail: thus may our hope and joy increase!

Lord, help me learn how to keep silence before You, so that I…

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T. M. Moore
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



[1] Walker, p. 21.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore