A spiritual discipline.
The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.
Habakkuk 2:20 NIV
A noisy world.
We live in a noisy world. In our digital age, wherever we go, we can take along music, movies, media of all sorts on our phones and tablets and various other digital devices. In addition to our personal entertainment center, many restaurants, waiting rooms, and doctors’ offices have televisions mounted on walls and music playing through ceiling speakers.
It’s hard to find quiet. solitude. silence. (The spiritual kind, not the isolation of earbuds and eyes glued to a screen.)
The biggest danger in all the noise, is the cacophony of sin that emerges. The most deadly comes from our own mouths. The words we speak based on our own understanding. Words to justify, criticize, and control. Without thought, they overflow from what dwells within our hearts (Luke 6:45).
“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.”
Matthew 12:36–37 ESV
Our words, all we say, reveal who we truly are. Too often what flows from our lips we want to immediately retract. What wells up in anger or hurt or pride we spew onto others… then follow quickly with, Wait! I didn’t mean that. As you wonder within yourself, Where did that come from?!
Words. Our very own words. Give evidence of who we are. It’s wise to listen to yourself. Wise to gain insight of who you are by what you say. And what will be revealed? Sin. If we are honest. If we trust God’s counsel on what He says about words. We will convict ourselves before we face Him.
In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
Proverbs 10:19 NKJV
The grace of silence.
A day without words. A practice of the spiritual discipline of silence, holding your tongue for a day, can be a much needed respite for your soul. Speaking few to no words (including written words) can be a service to yourself and others.
To listen to others quiets and disciplines the mind to listen to God. It creates an inward working upon the heart that transforms the affections, even the priorities, of life. When we have grown dull in listening to God, we would do well to listen to others in silence and see if we do not hear God through them.— Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
When we quiet our voice, both externally and internally. We gain insight into who we are. who others are. who God is.
Listening is a grace. Listening to our Creator who graciously speaks to us through His Word and Spirit is the greatest grace. Choosing to limit your words is a practice of seeing your proper place before God and others.
The Lord is in His holy temple…
Acknowledging God’s holiness, His Most High position in all the earth, silence makes the way for us to enter His presence. Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, tells us one reason we find it hard to remain silent is because it makes us feel helpless: If we are silent, who will take control? Foster reminds us, God will.
Practicing silence demonstrates our trust in God to defend, control, and be who He says He is. It is an exercise for Believers in letting God be God. When we trust Him, He shows Himself trustworthy. Through practice, we find our faith increased.
Let all the earth be silent before Him.
A day without words is an exercise in reducing the noise in the world by refusing to contribute. It is not filling your mind with nothing, but focusing on listening for God in the world around you. In your home, work, heart.
It includes silencing the noise of the world. Turning off. unplugging. disconnecting. from all the world has to say for just one day. It might include a walk outside, listening for God in creation. In the people around you.
Consciously practicing silence, turning down the noise of the world, helps us to gain clarity. Listening for what God has to say without the need to respond. interject. question.
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven…
A time to keep silence,
A time to speak…
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7 NKJV
Emerging from a day of silence can give your voice a different tone. New questions to ask God, greater appreciation of who He is, less angst and more peace.
Silence: A welcome mat for God.
In essence, silence is a time to create a place for God to enter and fill.
It is a practice we can make a habit. Carving out time daily to be silent. To enter His presence. Give Him space to enter yours. An invitation to God — a welcome mat.
An entire day without words may be a place to start or a goal to set. Emerging from or working toward a regular practice of silence with five minutes a day… ten… fifteen… twenty… thirty…
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10 ESV
To be uncomfortable with silence is to be uncomfortable with God.
Take the time.
Hold the tongue.
Enter into His presence.
Grow comfortable with who you are before Him.
Find comfort in Him.
Do you find comfort in silence? Why or why not?
What emotions rise as you consider practicing a day without words?
Ask God to prepare you for the practice of silence. Ask Him to reveal what barriers block the way. Ask Him for the faith to trust Him to be God.