Silence and Listening for Renewed Worship

Go ahead, try it. Turn off the TV and radio. Shut off the ringer on the phone. Power down the cell phone. Slip the ear-buds out of your ears and let the MP3 player rest for a while. Find a place away from the kids or your co-workers, or others in your environment. Sit down, take a deep breath…OK? Now, just be quiet. Be silent. Let the busy-ness of life fade away and spend time in solitude.

If you’re like most of us, this little exercise won’t last long. A few minutes at best. We are not people of quietness. We like noise, we like a background “buzz.” Our lives are full of noise – at home, in the car, at the grocery store, in the malls, at church, in our neighborhoods. It’s everywhere!

In a song long forgotten, the Christian songwriter Steve Taylor noted that we are “slaves to that ubiquitous beat.” Don’t worry, I didn’t know what “ubiquitous” meant either. The dictionary tells us that it means, “existing everywhere; inescapable.” And now, just think about it. We are constantly confronted with (and sometimes assaulted with) noise and music and information. TV, radio, satellite and internet are all available at the touch of a button in a variety of settings. It’s everywhere, it’s inescapable, and it’s out of our control!!

I’ve even noticed that the malls and restaurants and stores have turned up the music meant to be in the background and have made it much more a part of their identity. The style of music they play helps them define their audience and customer base.

Through the din of it all, God calls us to silence. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The idea of being still is meant to portray a ceasing of our striving and busy-ness, a quiet and attentive waiting on God, and a silence to listen for His still small voice. With all the hubbub of life swirling around us, and forcing its audible energy into our lives, we must make specific efforts – dare I say discipline – to move toward silence.

In fact, silence and solitude are considered key components of a healthy spiritual life. We can hear God’s voice in a unique way (through Scripture, in prayer, as revealed in creation, etc.) as we step away from the onslaught of noise. We must actively ask Him to renew our hearts, and then wait upon Him to do so.

Even as we individually enter into the discipline of silence, it can be a refreshing and uplifting part of our corporate worship as well. Now that would be interesting, wouldn’t it? I know that some churches have a time of “silent prayer,” which actually amounts to a 15 or 20 second pause in a verbalized prayer, but I’m suggesting something more. What would it be like to develop a disciplined congregational moment in which the whole of the body focuses and seeks to “know that He is God?” Could it be 30 seconds or a minute? Could it extend to 2 or 3 minutes?

Sure, there will be distractions. The fidgety kids. The labored breathing of an older person. The inevitable giggles of the teenager. The impatience of those who must look at their watch, suggesting that seeking God is a waste of time. The noise of traffic outside, or children playing in the church basement. Feel free to use any of these excuses to avoid silence, or create some excuses of your own…

For those brave enough to try – may you and your congregation discover something more of God in the midst of the silence…


(Original Post on July 28, 2014 at the Worldview Church:


Posted on October 20, 2014, in Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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