“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! Acts 18:9,NLT
A dark, divided and confused world desperately need to hear the good news of God’s S.O.S – Story Of Salvation. God is our Heavenly Father who wants the nations to seek Him and to feel their way toward Him. We can find Him for in Him we live and move and exist – we are His offspring1 The Jews rejected the good news and Paul was led to preach it to the Gentiles. He was encouraged to do so when he had a vision from the Lord telling him:
“Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent!2
Paul was accused of persuading people to worship God in ways that were contrary to the Jewish laws and faced much persecution.3 The good news is that Jesus opened a new and life-giving way for us to go before God’s throne of grace and seek God’s Presence.4 We are to live with the New Covenant in which God’s laws are put in our hearts and written on our minds.5
God speaks to each one of us in different ways. God spoke to Paul and Isaiah in a vision, to Moses in a burning bush, to Elijah as a still small voice and to John Wesley in a strangely warm heart. Mother Teresa espoused the simple path of silence for silence is the key to true prayer. It is our connection to God’s internet of wisdom and love. Before we can speak out for God, we need the spirit of obedience that flows from a listening heart. There is a time to keep silent and a time to speak.6
When I visited my elder daughter in San Francisco, she took us for a walk through a forest of redwood trees in Muir Woods. A part of the forest was aptly called Cathedral Grove where visitors were encouraged to enter quietly. It was an awesome experience which filled me with a wonder of silence. It brought Morton Kelsey to mind. He had taught “The Other Side Of Silence” in silent retreats conducted by the Methodist Church in the 1990s, He shared his experience with the red wood trees in his book, Prayer & The Redwood Seed:
“I wonder how these seeds can give birth
to a living cathedral like this in which I stand.
Gigantic buttresses of wood and bark
support great tapering columns arching overhead,
filtering a stream of soft light
Upon carpets of ferns and fallen twigs.
I feel as tiny as the seed I hold.”7
I feel inspired to sow the seed of the ancient tradition of spending time with God in silence. We need to be in touch with the silence in our hearts for it to have the power to transform our lives. The eyes see and the ears hear the truths of God but it is in the silence of our hearts that we understand how to live them out.
The Covid 19 pandemic provided everyone, poor or rich, sick or healthy, with the golden opportunity to practice solitude and silence. Unfortunately we have not harnessed the power of silence. We fear silence when we have False Expectations that Appear Real. Such fears are justified as silence can bring forth the dark secrets kept hidden in our hearts and expose us to attacks from the evil one.
We need companions for our inner journey. Morton Kelsey noted that members of the early church emphasized community and fellowship because they knew the dangers of embarking on the inner journey alone. We need prayer groups in which we can one listen and share and test one’s experiences of the Holy as we learn the meaning of real fellowship with one another.8 We need to develop fellowships of the broken hearted.
To do so, it is important to have the right motive for the practice of silence – desire to be filled with the power of Divine Love. In silence, we may be led to face spiritual battles and to taste death. In silence we learn to number our days that we may grow in wisdom.9 In silence, we seek God’s loving embrace with the reverence that the Lord is in His holy Temple:
“The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord is in His holy temple:
Let all the earth keep silence,
Let all the earth keep silence before Him—
Keep silence, keep silence before Him.”10
Our troubled and messy world needs the power of silence – to listen to the wonderful truth that all is calm and all is bright in the silent and holy night when Jesus Christ was born!
Lord, grant me the patience and wisdom to share the power of silence.
- Why is it important to practice silence?
- How can I practice silence?
- What is God saying to me in my silence?
Song of Praise
Silent Night, Holy Night
- Acts 17:27, NLT
- Acts 18:9, NLT
- Acts 18:13-17, NLT
- Hebrews 4:16,10:19-22
- Hebrews 10:16, NLT
- Ecclesiastes 3:7, NET
- Morton Kelsey, Prayer & The Redwood Seed, page 2
- Morton Kelsey, The Other Side Of Silence, page 102
- Psalms 90:12
- The Lord Is In His Holy Temple