We’ve all been there during those uncomfortable silences. We fidget. We worry what other people are thinking. We clock-watch. Our “silence” is often accompanied by a moody synth riff or an emotionally plucked guitar—heavy on the minor chords because we really want to feel God.
Our struggle with silence isn’t new. Our worlds are filled with noise. From the minute we wake to the minute we fall asleep, our lives are dominated by it. It can be literal noise—the sounds, songs, conversations and murmurings that make up the soundtrack of our days. Or it can be visual noise—what we see, read, take in, process. Either way, our minds, hearts and souls are filled with noise, noise and more noise.
To switch it all off is unnatural. It feels strange. Disconnecting in the 21st century is quite possibly one of the most counter-cultural things you can do. Think about it. When was the last time you found yourself in complete silence?
Yet James is right in saying that we are missing out on the blessing of silence:
Stillness is a vital component in our relationship with God. It is where we hear from God without interruption, where we discover ourselves, where the reality of our place before God—as sinners in total need of His forgiveness and grace—is laid bare before us.
And he’s advocating more than silence in our personal lives, but in our worship services on Sundays:
Sure, creating a genuine silence with 300 people is going to be difficult. But we need to be intentional about this. As the body of Christ, we should be prepared to hear God in the joyful praises of our hearts and the silence of our reverence. As we sing together, so we should wait, unified, in unbroken spaces.
It is most often in silence that we hear God. Where we understand who we are. When we are convicted of our sin and convinced to let God work in us.
We cannot allow God to fill us up if we never leave a moment empty for him to fill.
Perhaps what we need is not more, but less.
When was the last time that you had a moment of complete silence? How might our lives and our churches be changed by more silence?