Nothing in this world strikes fear into the heart of the radio DJ like the dreaded sound of silence.
Gasp! The horror!
When we hear what we call “dead air”, we frantically run around the station, saying things like, “Why is there dead air? Is the tower down? DO WE NEED TO CALL THE ENGINEER?!?”
Silence can be uncomfortable. The world we live in is surrounded by noise, and when there is an absence of it, it feels unnatural.
We try to fill that silence with something: A TV show, music, social media, anything! But Jesus wants us to embrace silence.
Thomas Merton once said,
The world of men has forgotten the joys of silence, the peace of solitude which is necessary, to some extent, for the fullness of human living. When that inner voice is not heard…life is always miserable and exhausting…If man is constantly exiled from his own home, locked out of his own spiritual solitude, he ceases to be a true person.
Without silence, we struggle to truly know ourselves, and who God created us to be. When the outside world continues to flood our brain with stimuli, it can be hard to make space and see what silence can teach us about God, His work in us and in the world. Silence helps connect us with God.
It tells us what is really going on inside of us, the good and the bad. Silence can be hard for us because it makes us realize there are parts of ourselves that may not be at peace. Silence can help us reckon with what is disrupting our peace.
Silence helps the outer distractions fade away, and listen for God amidst the chaos. By quieting the world around us, you can start to let go of your worries and just be with God right where you are.
Silence encourages rest for our bodies, minds, and spirit, providing an opportunity for God to refresh our souls. Time away from the distractions of the world and other responsibilities creates margin for renewal of your spirit.
Silence reminds us that we don’t have to prove ourselves to God. He loves us just as we are. We can just be, and He sees that it is good.
So, how can we practice silence? Here are some ideas from Reclaim Today:
Level 1: Novice
Pick a day of the week to turn off music, podcasts, and audiobooks while driving or at home.
Try “silent prayer,” simply sitting in silence with God, for 10 minutes.
Identify the thing in your life that most distracts you, and give it up for the month. It could be social media, an app, Netflix, or something else!
Ask God to show you where your speech gets you into trouble. You might find that you struggle with gossip, dishonesty, or complaining.
Level 2: Apprentice
Start waking up 20 minutes before the rest of your household. Enjoy some time of peace.
Try “silent prayer,” simply sitting in silence with God, for 20 minutes.
For a day, commit to listening to understand rather than to respond. Don’t interrupt or finish anyone’s sentences.
For a week, try to notice when your “inner commentary” starts to run wild. This might look like ruminating on something that upset you or talking out loud to yourself about something that’s stressful. Quiet these thoughts by offering them to God in prayer.
Level 3: Master
Try a practice called the night watch: wake up between 3am-6am, find a quiet place outside, and share an hour of silence with God under the stars.
Take a vow of silence for a day, going about your daily business, and noticing when you most want to speak.
Visit a church sometime when there’s no service. Hang out in the sanctuary to waste some time with God.
Find a monastery or retreat center in your area, and visit for a weekend silent retreat.