Scripture reading: Luke 1:5-25
“But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. “ Luke 1:13, NLT
During Advent in 2019, I suddenly lost my voice when I had a severe attack of laryngitis. The ENT specialist found a small ulcer on my vocal cord and gave me strict orders not to talk at all for 2 weeks – she was God’s “commanding angel” pushing me into a journey of silence in the season of Advent. It marked the gestation of my book, Living In God’s Loving Embrace, which was published in 2020.1
I was reminded of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, who was struck by the fear of the Lord when the angel Gabriel appeared to him while he was on duty serving God in the Temple. He was shaken and overwhelmed with fear but was reassured by the angel Gabriel: “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.“2
Zechariah then asked for a sign and was told by the angel Gabriel that he would be silent and unable to speak until the child was born. The silencing of Zechariah was not a punishment but the sign that God is working in the womb of Elizabeth to form the voice in the wilderness through John the Baptist.3
On the eve of the new year 2022, it dawned on me that to be a voice in the wilderness like John the Baptist, I need to listen to the voice of silence through the discipline of centering prayer. Listening to the voice of silence is the simple practice of radical discipleship of learning to let go of our thoughts so that there will be room in our hearts for the mind of Christ. It is learning to be still in the presence of the Lord4 and to wait patiently for the Spirit to renew our minds and to change our hearts.5
The discipline of silence is the preparation for life in God’s Kingdom of Heaven – to live in God’s loving embrace in our mundane lives. Jesus came to set us free from the years of pain and troubles when we are living by the law and in fear of the wrath of God.6 Radical discipleship is following Christ through the practice of silence to live a God centred faith. The cheap grace of a self centred Christian faith leads to radical disillusionment. The discipline of silence is not a magical ritual to secure blessings but the expression of a heartfelt desire for a transforming relationship with the Risen Christ and a total dependence on the Holy Spirit in a life devoted to glorifying God.
The most important truth we need to cling to is: “The Lord is in His Holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”7 We are to be still to know God.8 In the silence in the morning, we wait for the Holy Spirit to fill up the “love tank” of our hearts.9. In the evening we wait for Christ to wash our feet.10 The voice of silence is the gentle whisper of God’s love and the fruit of silence is faith, love and peace.11 The good news is that God loves us because He has created us to be His masterpieces.12 He is waiting patiently to give us His grace to transform our lives so that we can be channels of His love and grace.
Lord, I need to hear Your voice of silence in our noisy world. Grant me patience and perseverance to wait in silence. May my practice of silence bear the fruit of love and deepen my roots of faith.
- What new thing is God showing me in the new year to help me listen to the voice of silence?
- How can I let go of my thoughts and let the mind of Christ into my heart?
- How have the silent moments in my daily life helped me to walk more closely with the Spirit?
- How have I heard God’s whispers of love in the voice of silence?
Song of Praise:
Be Still In The Presence Of The Lord
- A fuller account is found in my book, Living In God’s Loving Embrace.
- Luke 1:13
- Mark 1:4
- Psalms 37:7
- Romans 12:2
- Psalms 90 – Moses reminds us that God sees our secret sins and we live under the wrath of God – our best years are filled with pain and trouble. This is to draw us to the cross of Christ.
- Habbakuk 2:20
- Psalms 46:10
- Romans 5:5
- John 13:1-11
- From Mother Teresa’s Simple Path – the fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace.
- Ephesians 2:10, NLT