Mark 1:35 - And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.
A friend and I went to a special worship service last night. It was a kind of teaching and learning experience for participants in a workshop context. The service featured readings from Scripture, followed by a time for prayer and a period of silence.
It was the period of silence that caused me a problem. I suppose as members of the congregation, we were to use the period of silence (and darkness) to meditate on the Scripture verses just read.
Now I must confess I've never really known what it means to meditate. I can think, dream, plan, recall, remember, and relate, but I don't know if that is meditation. I don't handle silence very well either, and it seems that others had a similar problem. The silence became so thick it was unsettling. I peeked about to see what others might be doing with the silence. Some were yawning; others were "studying" the stained-glass windows; some were peeking about—as I was—and that was really embarrassing. I felt guilty because I apparently wasn't doing what I should've been doing.
I think silence is often tough to take because we don't know what to do with it. We have sound about us all the time. There's traffic outside our front doors, nearby conversations in the office, the din of workplace machinery, or the white noise of congested public spaces. When I go home, one of the first things I do is turn on the TV. We seem always to be talking or being talked to. Have you ever noticed how long it seems, and how awkward it sometimes becomes, when there is a lull in a conversation? Teachers and counselors are eager to jump in with some statement in order to cover that silent gap of time between an asked question or suggestion and the anticipated response.
No wonder some people can't sleep in the quiet of the night. We just aren't comfortable with silence. Except for those who are hard of hearing, we seem ever and continually pummeled by anything and everything except silence.
It's sad in a way though that we live in such a noisy world, because silence has its rewards.
For instance, during those rare times when I am silent and surrounded by silence, I can concentrate my thinking on the task at hand—free of any disturbing influence. And perhaps, not surprisingly, silence is important if we are to hear the Lord, for often He speaks softly and in ways that require unwavering attention.
Sometimes it seems that I am so busy praying that I can't or don't hear the answer. But when I take time, when I pause and consider His Word in Scripture, quietly reflecting on its truth and meaning for me right here and now, then the silence becomes golden, brightened with a better understanding of God and His love, especially the way He loves us through His beloved Son Jesus Christ.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, teach us to be still before the power and presence of Your Word. It is there that we can hear Your voice. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, August 1979 issue, "Be Still ... and Know I Am God," by Jon Suel
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"