Lamentations 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.”
When I consider all the ways that we respond to the Lord, silence seems to be one of the common themes often overlooked.
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 are easy to track. I remember when my kids were young, if my wife and I hadn’t heard any noise for a while we immediately sought them out, we knew they were doing something they shouldn’t. Silence was an alarm for trouble.
When it comes to our Father in Heaven and our relationship to Him, there are times when silence is necessary.
I believe David understood this concept as well as anyone. While shepherding as a young boy David would have spent many quiet days in the fields tending sheep and contemplating life. As he grew his early life was marked with strife and conflict, yet the times practiced listening to God became ever more important.
Psalm 62:1 “Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.“
Jesus also valued times of quietness. When He ventured into the wilderness He fasted for 40 days, the time of separation from noise and chaos brought opportunity for prayer and meditation.
When Jesus was with the disciples, He showed them there is a time for the storm and a time for peace.
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.”
During His ministry, Jesus would draw large crowds, He then recognized the need to step away 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. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
So what is it about silence that God deems valuable?
Does God encourage us to separate ourselves for a period of time and reflect? From personal experience, I’ve found that silence allows me to considering my circumstances in the light of God’s providence.
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.
Listening is Intentional
If we don’t take the time to hear God’s voice, we are essentially removing ourselves from the ability to listen to God. How many times have you prayed for God to speak to you regarding a particular situation?
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.”
We cannot expect God to hear our prayers if we don’t listen to His instruction. We pray and sometimes fast, we ask God for direction or wisdom but do we take the time to listen to His response? Maybe the Lord was already instructing you and you didn’t even know it.
What if God’s answer to your request is no? What if God’s answer is specific to how He wants you to move, act or just remain where you are for a time?
Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
God’s timing is Perfect
If we don’t hear God, we might miss the fact that He wants us to simply wait for His next move. Our timing of what we think we need is not necessarily His timing for fulfilling that need.
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?
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.”
The promises of God are always true. He loves you more than anyone on earth could love you. He loves to give good gifts to His children, He knows what you need before you ask for it, and He has a plan for your good—-you only need to trust.
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.”
When we pray we are not to use repetitive words as if God will hear us more through repetition. Some people will quote an old prayer thinking they contain ‘magic words’ that God responded to in the past.
We are told to present our requests to God from our hearts and then learn to listen.
When God responds, He doesn’t bellow loudly or make thunderous edicts as we might hope. 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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not 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 ourselves, ceasing from talking or doing activity and intentionally responding to God’s answer. Maybe God wants to correct you from a path of sin. Maybe you’ve been seeking for the wrong things, disregarding something much better He wants to supply you with.
Pray for wisdom.
God 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 allow Him to work as He knows best.