From my early childhood to almost middle school, I couldn’t sleep without music. I had my CD player going every night. I couldn’t stand the combination of darkness and silence, and I’d have nightmares before even being fully asleep. There was this fear of the loneliness that was equated to darkness and silence. It seems childish, right? Being afraid of the dark and afraid of the quiet is something we grow out of. What if I told you that’s probably wrong?
One of the concepts that most transformed my prayer/worship life came from a youth pastor when I was early in high school. He talked about how the church constantly has noise. He pointed out that rarely, if ever, do we have an alter call without music. We’ve been conditioned to be always hearing noise, and sometimes we are so focused on the noise (even if it’s worship music) that we stop truly focusing on God.
Recently, this concept has come back up in my life. I’m reading It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke. In the chapter I just finish, he addressed that exact situation. Our society glorifies busy. We keep our phones out or our music on to avoid “awkward silence.” Like me laying in bed as a child, we have become afraid of silence. Bethke references the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. When God speaks to Elijah, it comes as a whisper. Put Elijah into your modern shoes. When you pray, are you listening for God’s voice? Would God’s whisper be drowned out by the constant noise (physically or mentally) in your life? I think I would have to answer yes to the latter question. As I write, I have worship instrumentals playing, because the silence makes me uncomfortable. I pull my phone out as I wait for an appointment, or for class to start because the stillness makes me uncomfortable.
I learned today that the word sabbath in Hebrew means “to cease.” A true Sabbath isn’t something that really exists in our society for a number of reasons. Maybe Sundays are busy days for you. Maybe you have to work, or you have kids, or you have to study. Life is busy. I understand.
I challenge you, alongside myself, to set aside time to cease. Make time to be still and quiet in God’s presence.
Find time in your day and in your week to be alone with God. It seems almost impossible sometimes. It’s not. If I have learned anything in the past year, it’s that things don’t take our time, we give our time to them. We give our time to school, work, family, friends, or church. But are we giving time directly to God? Maybe you’ll have to take time from something else. That’s called sacrifice, and yes it hurts. It’s worth it though. Let’s take the awkward away from silences. Giving God our complete attention, taking away the noise to listen to His voice, has far greater value than we often think about. Let’s learn to find peace in the quiet.