Skip to main content

Waiting in Silence

My prayer time yesterday took me on an interesting excursion. In my book I describe an experience I had with centering prayer and how, for the first time, I was able be on God's lap, feeling his arms around me, and actually be in the experience, not just looking at it from afar. It was life-changing for me.

From time to time, I return to the daily practice of sitting silent before God, though the form has morphed somewhat from that initial introduction. I get into a comfortable position--sitting in my rocking chair, feet up on a make-shift stool--set a timer for 20 minutes and then, in silent stillness, come before God. To keep my mind from distractions, I choose a truth about God and repeat it. Today that truth was "You are my strong tower, fortress when I'm weak." Yesterday it was from Isaiah 40:31 KJV, "They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength."

It's amazing what God will do when we come to him without an agenda--not asking for anything but simply sitting and waiting for him to reveal himself. I remembered what I posted two days ago, "Seeking God in Silence," and saw the connection: while we sit in silence, we wait and the waiting itself enables us to soar like eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint.

I began to do some research and looked for all the places in the Bible that talk about waiting on the Lord. We wait in hope, wait patiently, wait at God's doorway, wait quietly, wait in eager expectation, wait eagerly.* We wait in quiet alertness so we don't miss him when he comes.

We don't wait very well. We want everything in an instant. We also don't like silence but I remembered something about the Quakers and went searching online. Sunday morning meetings for Quakers consist of coming together and sitting in silence for an hour. At the end of the hour, they shake hands and leave. Note what they, and those explaining their silent meetings, have to say about silence:
"...when we are silent, God grants us insights, guidance, and spiritual understanding that is different from what we might realize in our noisy, everyday lives." http://www.redroom.com/publishedwork/holy-silence-the-gift-quaker-spirituality

According to the book Quaker Faith and Practice, the silence "may be just sheer emptiness, absence of words or noise or music. It may be an occasion for slumber, or it may be a dead form. But it may be an intensified pause, a vitalised hush, a creative quiet, and an actual moment of mutual and reciprocal correspondence with God". http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1488488/BBC-to-broadcast-the-Quaker-sound-of-silence.html

[The meetings are] a comfortable togetherness interrupted only if the Spirit moves someone to talk....It is not the silence itself but the expectation that is worthwhile.... [The silence allows] God to say to us who he is. We become teachable in the Spirit within the silence of our souls before the presence of God. http://pluralism.org/news/article.php?id=346

"True silence is ... to the Spirit what sleep is to the body: nourishment and refreshment." William Penn as quoted at http://www.hermitary.com/solitude/quaker_silence.html

The essence of the value of silence, for Quakers as well as for monastics and others, is to free ourselves from influences other than from God. Silence, then, can open ourselves to God and let us truly listen to the Living Christ. http://www.quakerinfo.com/quak_sil.shtml

...silence is our admission that we have broken communication with God and are now willing to listen.... The more silence becomes part of our lives, the less impulsive we become. We are slowed down. Silence can reconcile the contradictions within us holding them in a healthy tension.... The awareness that comes from a grounding in silence allows us to respond more authentically. ...out of the silence, Christ can speak to our condition so we no longer must be captive to sin. Silence can remove the veil between us and the Truth. http://www.quakerinfo.com/silence.shtml

This is the only way to know God. 'Be still, and know that I am God.' 'God is in His Holy Temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him.' ...as I listened and slowly learned to obey, and shut my ears to every sound, I found after awhile that when the other voices ceased, or I ceased to hear them, there was a still, small voice in the depths of my being that began to speak with an inexpressible tenderness, power, and comfort. http://www.tractassociation.org/Silence.html
"They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. " I need more of that strength. What about you?

*For those who want to repeat this study, check out the following verses:
Psalms 5:3, 27:14, 33:20, 37:7, 34, 40:1, 130:5, 6, Proverbs 20:22, Isaiah 8:17, 26:8, 51:5, 64:4, Lamentations 3:26, Hosea 12:6, Micah 7:7, Romans 8:19, 23, 25, 1 Corinthians 1:7, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 9:28, Jude 21.

Here are more links to information about Quakers and silence:
http://www.journeywithjesus.net/BookNotes/J_Brent_Bill_Holy_Silence.shtml
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/sep/24/religion.uk
http://www.qhpress.org/texts/oldqwhp/gf-e-201.htm
http://www.qhpress.org/quakerpages/qhoa/west.htm
http://www.tractassociation.org/CongregationalSilence.htm
http://www.quaker.org/melodia/silence/
http://www.spiritualitytoday.org/spir2day/853744busch.html
http://theredelectric.blogspot.com/2008/12/out-of-silence-quaker-joy.html
http://www.insighttrails.com/blog/2008/01/practices-culti.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/subdivisions/quakers_print.html

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Monogamous, Homosexual Unions--My Position and the Story behind it

I've been asked to be one of two participants at church each representing opposing views on the matter of monogamous, homosexual unions, moderated by the pastor.  In preparation, I have written the following.  In the comments, please do not post any vitriol--from either side. If I think any comment is hateful, I will delete it. Respectful disagreement or questions are welcome, however.















My Position and Values:
I believe that sexual relations between two people of the same sex is contrary to God’s will.I would like to say otherwise but I find nothing in Scripture that allows me to do so.BEING homosexual, having a longing or desire for someone of the same sex, is not condemned in the Bible.  We all have desires that are contrary to God’s will.  The sin occurs when we feed those desires, like Jesus talks about when he calls lust adultery (Matthew 5:28).Much cruelty to LGBTQ people has happened because of the stance of the Church. We have not acted with love, compassion and listening ear…

What Is Separating me from the Promise?

This is the question Andy Wood asked us each to consider this morning at the end of his sermon and it hit me like a thunderbolt.

Imagine the Jordan River on the eve of the Israelites crossing it into the Promised Land.  The river was at flood stage, so it was moving quickly (even the Red River here in Winnipeg moves quickly during flood season) but this particular stretch of the river near Jericho is narrower than the rest so that as the rushing flood waters reached the point where the people were waiting--all two million of them--it became even more turbulent.  Anyone who's witnessed a flood knows that it doesn't just carry water; there is debris like fallen trees, parts of sheds and houses and perhaps even animals unable to escape the river's grab.

Back in the days of Abraham, God had promised the land of Canaan to him and his descendants but during the days of Abraham's great-grandson, Joseph, the whole family had moved out of the Promised Land to Egypt because of f…

In My Prayer Room

Oh God
You surround me with your love,
with memories
of who you are
of what you've done
of promises you've made
of who I want to be
of who I am because of you.

You give me hope and joy,
peace and gratitude.
You convict me
and teach me
encourage me
and remind me
of what it means to follow you.












You listen to my prayers
and grant my requests
in your time.
You give me insight
and knowledge
and words to write
to share your presence
your goodness
your love
your admonition
with others.























You expand my love
to pray for friend and foe
near and far
family and stranger
people as pins on maps
clustered and scattered
who know you and reject you
for those in need
and those too full to need.


















You draw me close
and then release me
to bring you close to others
to serve
and love
and give
all I have received.

You fill my heart with joy
that warms
and glows
and bursts
into laughter,
song
and even dance.

You wrap me in your arms
and tell me
"You are mine"
with intensity that burns
and smoul…