In our noisy world, silence is rare and under-valued. We have so many things to distract us, that we’ve forgotten what it is to be quiet.
We’ve lost the art of silence.
When we read the Gospels, we see Jesus intentionally setting aside times of silence. He is sought-after and in-demand, yet he frequently comes back to the quiet place, away from distraction, alone with the Father.
‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.’ Mark 1:35
‘But the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.’ Luke 5:15-16
In fact, Jesus ministered out of these quiet times. As busy as we think we are, we need these times of quiet. We need to calm our racing minds. To come back often to the quiet place. To be still, and know that God is God.
“This new epidemic of distraction is our civilisation’s specific weakness… Its threat is not so much to our minds, even as they shape-shift under the pressure. The threat is to our souls. At this rate, if the noise does not relent, we might even forget we have any.” Andrew Sullivan
Because it’s so rare, silence is a skill we have to cultivate. Here’s how you might have a time of silence, in your small group, or on your own.
- Find a quiet space where you’re unlikely to be interrupted, and set a timer. (Start small. It might be just five minutes at first.)
- Now, silence. If it helps, imagine the presence of the Holy Spirit with you. You don’t have to talk to God, and you don’t have to expect God to talk to you. You’re just present with one another.
- If a thought comes into your mind, try not to get caught up in it. Focus on your breathing. In and out. In and out.
- Have grace for yourself and keep going. You might get distracted, and that’s ok.
- When the timer goes off, decide if you want to sit quietly for a little bit longer, or if you’re done.