In this busy, technology-driven society we have little time to simply “be still”. We get so accustomed to the noise that when it is quiet we become uncomfortable. We always need some kind of background noise playing. It is even difficult for most believers to spend quiet time in the presence of God. We feel the need to have a praise and worship CD playing or loud praying.
I grew up in a church that believed in being loud. Singing loud, praying loud and preaching loud. We must have thought God had trouble hearing unless we did it loud. You could go deaf if you spent any amount of time in these church services. Loudness was next to Godliness or so we thought.
In recent years I have learned to value silence before God. I have truly experienced a whole new way to worship God by simply being still before Him. Too often I had limited God to only hearing the words that I spoke when I forget that He can hear my thoughts. He knows the language of my tears. He is God and is not limited to my vocabulary. It’s a lot harder to pray without words and just mentally sitting before God than praying with words. It takes more focus and concentration to do this.
Although I wasn’t raised Catholic, I have come to embrace the quietness of their churches and being able to sit for an hour or more in quiet presence before the Lord. If I get distracted with my thoughts, I simply look at the artwork or surroundings to get my focus upon God’s greatness and the reverence of where I am. I have read a lot about contemplative prayer that the Trappists monks do and other practices of silent meditation. These practices have changed the way I approach God. They have been invaluable to me at this time in my life. I have often stumbled with my own words and frustrated on how to pray. It wasn’t about the how but the who. He doesn’t have to be swayed by my speech; He can see the sincerity of my heart.
I used to be more comfortable with the noise than silence. Now I have noticed that I prefer silence. The noise tends to get on my nerves a lot more now. Instead of exercising with an ipod plugged into my ear, I leave it in the car and walk with my mind focused on God. This doesn’t make me more spiritual, it just helps me find my safe place in Him. A lot has happened in my life in the past few years and most of it due to decisions I have made. I have needed to find safety in Him and He has provided it whether He has been pleased with me or not. Many times I had no words, just feelings. Just like in the 23rd Psalm, He has been my shepherd and He has made me to lie down and rest beside His living waters. That’s where you can get a true refreshing for your soul. I have found that simply by being still.
“For God alone my soul waits in silence” Psalm 62:1 (NRSV)