I work late night shifts and frequently sleep by five in the morning. Lately, I’ve taken to sleeping with my headphones in (too loud, my sister tells me) to drown out the ongoing construction next door.
As part of my Lenten disciplines this year, however, I’m trying to incorporate moments of silence and meditation during my devotional time, and I’ve been surprised at how much of my time is spent with noise. Most of my waking (and now many of my sleeping) hours are taken up with noise: music, podcasts, phone calls — not to mention, the constant buzz that comes with living in a city.
Nothing is wrong with the content I’m consuming. But when I tried switching everything off and sitting silently, it wasn’t long before my mind started racing and the quiet became uncomfortable and oppressive.
In a world constantly throwing distractions at us, to the point that health experts warn us of the health risks of noise pollution and smartphones are lessening our attention spans, the words of Psalms seem almost archaic: “For God alone my soul waits in silence” (Psalm 62:1). Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Scripture is peppered with examples of God taking people into quiet spaces to speak to them. Jesus Himself went away from clamouring crowds to spend time alone with the Father. Those quiet moments were essential, even for Christ, to fulfil His ministry.
By foregoing moments of real quiet, we rob ourselves of much-needed time to hear God’s voice
The chaos and noise that we dwell in every day make times of real, genuine quiet in God’s presence essential. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai while receiving the 10 commandments. Elijah had to dwell in a cave, listening to the still, small voice of God before he began mentoring Elisha.
How much more do we need to train ourselves to hear God clearly in moments of silence if we want to recognise His voice during the rush of daily life?
Of course, “noise” isn’t limited to actual soundwaves. Our minds (or mine, at least) are always bombarded by our own anxieties and neuroses, any number of Satan’s lies, and the opinions of others. Turning off and tuning in to God’s Word is the only way to ensure we can recognise the voice of Truth above the fray.
And it is not enough to merely consume Scripture in a hurry — we need the time to concentrate, consider, and let God speak to us through the Word and prayer. “Our souls are not nourished merely by what we hear,” Charles Spurgeon wrote. “Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting; and the inward digesting of the truth lies in the meditating upon it.”
In many ways, intentionally creating moments of silence goes against the cultural grain. Yet no matter how good the content may be, perhaps by foregoing moments of real quiet, we rob ourselves of much-needed time to hear God’s voice.
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