Lent: Practicing Quiet
But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth hush and be silent before Him.Habakkuk 2:20 AMP
We are a noisy generation. Or maybe I am just old and grumpy. Music blares everywhere – department stores, supermarkets, restaurants, malls, and sometimes even gas stations. If the music is not floating through the air, then we often have earbuds or headphones so that we don’t miss a song on Spotify, the latest podcast episode or the YouTube rant. There are few quiet moments … unless you purposefully design them that way.
During this Lent season, this is my challenge – to practice quietness.
Silence is the simple stillness of the individual under the Word of God. We are silent before hearing the Word because our thoughts are already directed to the Word, as a child is quiet when he enters his father’s room. We are silent after hearing the Word because the Word is still speaking and dwelling within us. We are silent at the beginning of the day because God should have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep because the last word also belongs to God. We keep silence solely for the sake of the Word, and therefore not in order to show disregard for the Word but rather to honor and receive it.Life Together, p. 79, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Bonhoeffer’s idea of letting God have the first and last words of the day resonate deeply. Maybe you have had a friend that always has to have the last word. Maybe I am that friend – LOL. Letting a text message dangle without a final response is challenging. The same is with conversations – it’s challenging not to say just one more thing. But what if? What if we let God have our day’s first and last words? What might that look like? Sound like?
Silence is nothing else but waiting for God’s Word and coming from God’s Word with a blessing. But everybody knows that this is something that needs to be practiced and learned, in these days when talkativeness prevails. Real silence, real stillness, really holding one’s tongue comes only as the sober consequence of spiritual stillness.Life Together, p. 79, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Henri Nouwen writes about the discipline of silence as well.
Silence is the discipline that helps us to go beyond the entertainment quality of our lives. There we can let our sorrows and joys emerge from their hidden place and look us in the face, saying: “Don’t be afraid; you can look at your own journey, its dark and light sides, and discover your way to freedom.” We may find silence in nature, in our own houses, in a church or meditation hall. But wherever we find it, we should cherish it. Because it is in silence that we can truly acknowledge who we are and gradually claim ourselves as a gift from God.Can You Drink the Cup, pp. 94-95, Henri Nouwen
Spiritual stillness is not a mystical, hidden practice. It does not require a special anointing or even special skills. Spiritual stillness means simply being present with God and opening yourself up to His presence. During this season, consider trying these ideas:
- Silence your phone and set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes. Place your phone across the room.
- Use your imagination – draw up a chair and see God sitting there, or imagine yourself a small child sitting at your Father’s feet, or read Revelation 4 – 6 imagining yourself at the very throne of God.
- Recite a simple prayer for stillness. Write your own or use mine-
- Orient your mind towards God by singing worship songs or reading Psalms of praise [ Psalms 18, 21, 30, 32, 34, 40, 41, 66, 106, 116, 138]
- Meditate on a few verses of a praise Psalm, thinking about each word, asking God to speak to you through the verses.
- Smile, relax, and allow yourself to soak up His presence.
How will you enjoy the quietness and stillness with the Father today?