Summary: Part of our prayer time needs to be spent in quiet reflection.
INTRODUCTION: If you’re anything like me, you often spend your prayer time offering God your ‘wish list’. Too often our prayer time is spent treating God like a spiritual Santa Claus. We spend our prayer time asking God for things. And that’s not altogether bad. We are called to present our requests to God. We need to depend on God’s provision. We should be lifting up other people’s needs before the Lord. But if that’s all we’re doing in our prayer time then we’re missing out on an important aspect of prayer. Being quiet before the Lord is a part of prayer that is often overlooked. Let’s see how looking at the importance of quiet prayer can help to motivate us to change the way we pray.
1) WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? Why is it so hard for us to be quiet before the Lord?
· Restlessness. We can’t sit still long enough to allow God the time to speak. We have our quick 5-minute prayer time and off we go, on to the next thing. We don’t have time to be quiet and listen to God. God’s going to have to catch up with me and speak to me on the fly because I’m moving, I’m on the run, I’ve got things to do. I’m much too busy to be bothered with being quiet. Plus I’m restless in my mind. I can’t focus on being still before the Lord when I’m distracted by the million and one things on my mind. I can’t get into quiet mode when my mind or my feet are racing. I can’t be quiet if I’m restless.
· Reluctance. We’re reluctant because it’s a foreign concept to us. It’s not what we’re used to. We’re used to noise and in a strange way, we’ve become accustomed to chaos. Are you one of those people who can’t have it quiet in your home? If it’s too quiet you feel like you’re going to go stir crazy and explode? You have to have some sort of noise whether it’s the TV or radio. Especially being in the city, we’re used to hustle and bustle. We’re used to hearing people talk around us. To involve this concept of being quiet and listening to God speak to us in our prayers is an uncomfortable unknown. Therefore, this unusual side of prayer makes us reluctant to commit to it.
· Resistance. We resist giving God the opportunity to speak. But why? Have you ever been around someone who likes to do all the talking? Depending on the situation, people do this either as a diversion tactic or a control method. When they can control the conversation, they can avoid any difficult questions from being asked or they can avert a situation where they will be challenged. Is that how we are with God? Maybe we want to do all the talking because if we allow God to speak then we will have to deal with what he reveals.
2) HOW DO WE GET QUIET? What do we need to do to adopt silent prayer time?
· Relax. We can be too tense trying to be quiet. We can be on the edge of our seat waiting for God to speak. We can feel like everything’s hanging in the balance and with abated breath we’re eagerly anticipating God’s words to come forth. We don’t have to approach it like this. It’s unnerving to be in this mindset. What we will end up doing is get frustrated and give up after 30 seconds of non-response. Instead, we need to relax and allow our mind to become clear of distractions. In a relaxed mode I can be more focused. In this mode I am more patient. I can actually enjoy the experience. I need to relax.
· Rethink. It will be helpful for us to rethink this idea of quiet. Quiet doesn’t necessarily mean dead silence. If we approach our quiet time as if we need to be in a sound proof room we might be in trouble. Sometimes dead silence can be a distraction. For some people, dead silence is necessary. But this doesn’t have to be the standard for everyone. If you’re distracted by complete silence try having a steady noise going like a fan. For many people, this type of sound helps them concentrate better than they would be able to with no sound at all. Just make sure that the ‘noise’ you’re using isn’t something like the TV or radio. That isn’t going to allow you to clear your mind to focus on hearing God speak to you. But a constant, rhythmic sound can help you to meditate; just so long as the sound you’re using doesn’t put you to sleep!
· Respect. 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.” I might be more motivated to make this a priority when I realize it is a show of respect towards God. I am showing respect when I choose to give him time in my prayers to speak to me. When I’m quiet before the Lord it shows that I respect his voice; I respect his Spirit. It shows my humble submission to the Almighty God whose word to me is invaluable to my spiritual condition. I’m showing God that this time is precious. I’m recognizing that this is a time of connection with the triune God. I’m respecting God enough to give him my undivided attention. Being quiet before God is showing respect for God.