There is also a place for silence and solitude.
“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1:35
“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” Luke 5:16
I have a deep sense of reverence these days. That I just want to get down on my knees and stay there. I did just that for a while today.
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” Psalm 62:5 (NLT)
This verse has been the pulse of my heart for this current season and prior.
Quietly, in other Bible translations of the above verse, is also translated “silent” or “still”, so I wanted to see what light the Hebrew word had to add to the passage.
Other possible meanings are:
to be struck dumb
to be silenced, be made silent, destroyed
to make quiet
to be still, die
Let me tell you – there is certainly a dying involved in the call to silence.
I’m a talker. In fact, I’m a loud talker. I’m also a loud laugher. People will often say to me, “Brenna, I knew you arrived because I heard you laugh.” Ask any of my good friends. They have likely said this to me.Silent? Reserved? Uh, not so much. Struck dumb? Never.Yet God is calling me to silent spaces.
There is a tearing apart, a preparation, a refining of sorts. An awe of the jealousy of God’s heart, that there are times when He asks me to pause, to be still before Him. To go straight to Him before anyone else.
A call to silence. A drawing into His heart.
Have you experienced this? What did you learn in that time?
Here’s a bit of what I’m learning in my process.
When God calls for silence
If we look at Jesus’ example, this seems obvious. But not necessarily natural. When God asks me to be quiet, my natural tendency is to pout! A call to silence is a call to prayer. It’s a call to seek. It’s a call to rest and trust. And ask. It’s not necessarily a call to ask for specific things you want for yourself (a new job, a new car, or a specific outcome), but rather a call to ask for openness, general direction and sovereign guidance.
I really wanted to leave this one out. Really. I paused. And then I added it.Fasting seems big and scary and – well – so pre-21st century.That’s exactly why you need to do it.In the Old Testament, fasting was often tied with repenting or seeking the Lord. Jesus talked in Matthew 6:16-17 about “when you fast”. Fasting is mentioned in the book of Acts as well.Fasting can mean a lot of things. It could mean skipping one meal for a time of prayer, or skipping a week’s worth of meals for a time of prayer. It could be a Daniel fast (traditionally 21 days of a vegetarian diet). It could mean giving up sweets or coffee for a week.
It doesn’t have to be about food. You can fast from TV, movies, or Facebook. The time that would normally be spent in food prep, eating, or sitting at a computer is now used for prayer and seeking the Lord.
Isaiah 58 is an excellent explanation of why & how to fast.
Waiting is about slowing down. It’s about pausing. It’s a reminder that there’s more to life than jumping from one activity to the next. It can also be a place of preparation.
Oh, how I used to hate waiting.
I don’t love it now, but I’ve learned to, as David talks about in Psalm 5, wait in expectation. Waiting is not passive. But I believe the call for silence is more for a waiting as described in Psalm 130:
“My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
We watch and wait. Watch for the first sunshine of morning, or hope, to peer into our silence. We are being prepared.
Something I said in that conversation back in December about being muted was this: maybe those times when we feel most alone, or during the calls to silence, are really the times when God wants us to reach out to Him. He wants to be heard by us. What a powerful thought.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Jesus in John 10:27
“I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.” Psalm 16:7
What you do hear, even what you think you hear, obey. Take a step. Pray about it first. Fast about it. Remember that God will not ask you to do something that goes against His Word. Ask 2-3 others to pray if it’s a particularly radical step. (Despite the call to silence, I do believe that asking for assistance and confirmation through the prayers of a few trusted friends is wise.) God will not punish you for trying to obey what you think is His prompting, even if you sometimes make a mistake.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
Enjoy the process. Honestly, this call to silence is not a happy place for me. Neither is it exactly sad. It’s sort of a heavy place, a solemn, holy pause. At the same time, if I stop and wait, I can occasionally feel a little firework of joy going off in my heart. Since joy is often a choice, I will not choose sackcloth for this call to silence. I will choose to rejoice.If God is calling you to silence, there is much to learn and experience in this process.
Pray. Fast, Wait. Listen. Obey. And rejoice.