In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15)
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God . . .” (Ps. 46:10)
That’s a tall order for most of us; it certainly is for me. More than ever before, we live in a world with surround sound; silence is a rare commodity. Even more problematic is the noise within – the planning, juggling, distraction and agitation that whirl into a vortex that sucks our energy and good intentions down the drain.
Yet God has said that quietness is one of the key elements we need if we’re to find real strength in Him. Its absence in our spiritual lives may explain why so many Christians find themselves feeling disconnected, weak and defeated.
Why is quietness so vital?
Quietness is essential for hearing. There’s no point in trying to talk to a person who’s operating a jackhammer. If we want to hear God’s voice, we need to make a decision to turn off the noise around and within us, and make God our focus. This will take resolve, discipline and persistence.
Quietness is essential for learning. No classroom can operate effectively if everyone is talking at once. If we really want to learn from and be guided by God, we have to stop talking and start listening. This doesn’t mean we can’t speak at all; it does mean we have to stop doing all the talking. As David learned, God leads beside quiet waters (Ps. 23:2).
Quietness is essential for perspective. A whirling brain doesn’t promote clear vision or wise decisions. Fear and panic are Satan’s voiceprint. God’s voice comes as a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). Coming to a full stop and waiting quietly before God has a way of clearing the head enough for us to ask God to help us see things from His perspective.
Quietness is essential for reflection. God wants to speak with us, and then He wants us to reflect on what He is saying in a way that impacts our spiritual well-being. Reflection is most effective when it happens in a calm and restful atmosphere. Clamor and confusion are not conducive to reflection.
Quietness is essential for relationship. In a loving, healthy relationship, we make time for one-on-one communication about everything that excites, enlightens, helps, hurts, concerns or confuses us. We crave time alone with each other for that exchange that is so nourishing and meaningful. God created us for a personal relationship with Him; it’s the thing closest to His heart. His ears and arms are open as He eagerly waits for us.
“The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you.” (1 Ch. 15:2)
How then can we cultivate quietness?
Resolve to change the station. Strengthening quietness requires tuning out the world and our own racing thoughts so we can tune in to what God is saying. When we pray, when we read His Word, we do it with an eagerness to hear from Him, instead of as a habit or something we think we should do. Then we intentionally quiet ourselves and wait.
Keep adjusting the focus. When thoughts wander – and they will – keep coming back to focusing on God and what He is saying. Don’t get discouraged; you’re not a hopeless case. You didn’t learn the language you speak overnight, but you did learn it. Listening to God is like learning a new language, so keep at it. The results will be more than worth the effort.
Practise Patience. God waited a long time for you recognize your need for quiet times with Him; be willing to wait in silence for Him to speak. He knows how much practise we need to learn patience, and He’ll provide the required amount. Waiting is especially crucial when we’re seeking God’s guidance about decisions; it’s when we get tired of waiting and take things into our own hands that we get into real trouble.
But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. (Ps. 106:13)
“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Hab. 2:20)
Quietness before God requires patience – the ability to wait for His voice and His leading. Quietness is an acknowledgement that He is sovereign and His thoughts higher than ours. (Isa. 55:8-9)
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. (Ps. 40:1)
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Ps. 27:14)
Expect an encounter. God has promised His presence with us; that when we seek Him, we will surely find Him. God is not a philosophy, and He doesn’t want a philosophical relationship. Experiencing His presence will be as unique as you are, but experience it you will if you truly want to. You will learn to recognize His voice, His prompting, His comfort, His love, His strength. You will emerge from each encounter with Him with the peace, confidence and power that only He can provide.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven besides you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:23-26)
QUIETNESS IS THE KEY THAT UNLOCKS THE DOOR TO THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
Next: The Key of Trust