Monday, August 6, 2007

Spiritual Disciplines Beat #2: Silence

Yesterday I wrote about how the Word is the first beat of Pastor Daron's four beats of spiritual discipline. It is what drives the tempo of our personal spiritual rhythm, because without the Word of God as the downbeat the other three aspects can come off as soulless and empty. It's probably not a coincidence that at times finding the discipline to get into the Word can be the hardest part, because it is something that we must make a conscious effort to do every day. Silence and Solitude can be found in a peaceful moment of just getting away to clear one's head. Prayer can be done anywhere, even in waiting in an elevator. Worship is more formalized, as a portion of each week is already set away and taylor-made for worship.

But it is the Word that we must be active about pursuing. We must either carry our Bibles with us at all times, or make time to listen to the word in the car. With the modern distractions of iPods, CD's, talk radio, and road rage it can be difficult for us to surrender that time spent in the car each day, since we soften use it either as a time to decompress from the workday or simply shutting out the world and concentrating on getting from point A to point B.

The second beat, silence and solitude, is still difficult to get, but it is just as necessary and requires no reading, only a moment or two away from the hustle of the world. When I get home, I admit that I savor being the first one at home. Even though I can't wait for my wife to come home I enjoy the quiet, just for a moment. For 15-30 minutes there is no one around but me. It is my choice if I want to enjoy the silence and relax, or immediately turn on the TV to get some noise going. Often after dealing with my co-workers each day I relish the chance to enjoy some peace and quiet before the evening comes, kind of like halftime of a game. If your household is anything like mine, the television is blathering on for most of the evening simply as background noise even if you're not watching it.

Even when I work out, I have some music going, usually as loud as I can safely hear it so I can use it to get through the workout easily. In the car it is more music, or a conversation with my wife as we go somewhere. At work it is a constant crescendo of phones ringing, conversation, and mission statements that overstate the importance of whatever your business is.

I find that when I do take the time to close my eyes in a place of silence, it can be a centering experience. Lately I feel I haven't even needed to pray. Instead, I close my eyes and try to listen, or just be in the presence of my Creator. Surprisingly, doing a 4 count intake of breath through the nose, 6 count hold, and 8 count exhale through the mouth helps me re-establish my rhythm on beat #2 here.

"But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me." – Psalm 131:2

What a beautiful picture that paints! The way our souls feel when stilled at peace, taking the time to simply quiet our minds down, is like a child that has been placated. I don't know about you, but this is exactly the way I feel when I get even two minutes away and alone from the world.

"The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever." – Isaiah 32:17

What can be more righteous than the Word? As we get more and more into the Word, it allows us to have a focus for these quiet times. You can use it as a jumping off point for a private meditation, or simply as a way to establish a connection with the Creator. The Word encourages us to quiet our minds, and silent contemplation of it can bring peace.

In what ways have quiet moments, even without the Word, helped you lately? How do you feel that the connection of the word and quiet contemplation can be enhanced in your daily life? It is my challenge to you to find a moment each day to simply get away, close your eyes, breathe, and simply be with your Creator, and it is my prayer that in this time you are opened to a deep, profound peace you have never felt before.


1. How do you value the silent moments you get each day?

2. Is silence and simply listening for God's voice the most important thing you can do?

3. What feelings do you get when you make the effort to push the world away for a few moments?

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