Lamentations 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
26It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.”
When I consider all the ways that we respond toward the Lord, silence seems to be one of the common themes that brings Him pleasure.
Anyone who has parented knows the value of silence. Kids seem to continually make noise. Whether they are just running and playing, making sounds with their cars or speaking for the dolly, arguing, complaining or hungry, kids seem to continuously make noise. I remember when my kids were young, if my wife and I realized we hadn’t heard any noise for a while, we immediately sought them out, they were probably doing something dangerous, making a mess or getting into something that was forbidden. Silence was an alarm for trouble.
When it comes to our Father in Heaven and His desire for us, there are times when He wants us to just be quiet or still before Him.
I think David understood this concept as well as anyone. In the midst of shepherding as a young boy, he spent many quiet days in the fields tending sheep and contemplating life. As he grew, his early life was marked with strife and conflict, his need to flee from Saul left him many nights in the wilderness, again in necessary quietness and sometimes solitude.
Psalm 62:1 “Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
2He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.
5My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
6He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
7In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Jesus likewise valued the times of quietness. When He ventured into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days, the separation from noise and chaos brought opportunity for prayer and meditation.
When Jesus was with the disciples, we see Him calming the storm in Mark 4:39 “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”
And when His ministry was drawing larger crowds, He understood the need for quietness and prayer: Luke 5:15-16 “However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16So He Himself oftenwithdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
So what is it about silence that God deems valuable? Why is it that He even encourages us to separate ourselves for a period of time and reflect? From personal experience, I’ve found that silence allows me to stop considering my circumstances which brings worry and to remember God is in charge.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Removing myself from noise, turning off the t.v., or radio and just being quiet allows me also to listen.
Zechariah 7:13 “Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the LORD of hosts.”
You see, we cannot gain instruction from God unless we take the time to hear His instruction. We pray and sometimes fast, we ask God for all kinds of things but do we take the time to listen to His response? What if God’s answer is no to your request? What if God’s answer is specific to how He wants you to move, act or just remain where you are for a time?
We spend so much time presenting our requests to the Lord and yet do we wait patiently for His answer?
Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
The character of God is love. His love was expressed on the cross when Jesus paid for our sins, His love was expressed at creation when He made us in His image and His love will continue throughout eternity for those who desire Him.
So why do we doubt? Why do we fear? Why do we think that many words or acting good will somehow manipulate God into accepting our request? A good reminder is: Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Jesus gave us instructions on how to pray in Matthew 6:6 “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
We are not to use repetitive words as the Pharisees did. I would group quoting someone else’s prayer into this category as well, as if they were some ‘magic words’ that God responded to before so they might work for us. We are told to present our requests to God and then learn to listen.
The voice of God isn’t bellowing and thunderous as we might think. Elijah was given this lesson when he was running in fear from Ahab and Jezebel:
I Kings 19:11-13 “Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord wasnot in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
So, if we want to hear God’s voice, we are instructed to listen. Listening requires effort, it requires actively quieting yourself, ceasing from talking or doing activity and intentionally responding to God’s answer. He may speak in a whisper, He may reveal a truth in His Word or He may simply reveal His path by changing your circumstances. However God goes about revealing His purposes we show Him respect and honor by taking the time to give Him audience, otherwise, I would suggest you withhold your requests until you are ready to receive them.