So as I crave more of God, I want to have a meaningful dialogue with my heavenly Father, to enjoy more intimacy with Him than I’ve ever had before. And the only way I can have this kind of relationship is to keep my mouth shut at times, which is much harder than it may seem.
King David might have been thinking of this truth when he said, “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for Him to act.” We see the command elsewhere in Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.”7 David knew of the tremendous power in stillness, the forcefulness of perspective that overwhelms the mind and spirit with thoughts outside of itself. The roar of mental activity soon slows to a gentle murmur, and the mind’s eye opens to a wider viewpoint that makes self-centered concerns seem unimportant.
I think this is why God spoke to His people in the midst of silence. Elijah heard the Lord in a gentle whisper. Samuel heard the voice of God calling to him in the stillness of sleep.8 And Jesus would often retire to the hills alone, to be with God in the tranquility of night.
So silence makes room for God to speak, and it also makes for better conversation. After all, I can think of far more to say to someone who is talking back. And this kind of dialogue helps me cover more meaningful ground with God. The typical empty praise, where I try to think of big words I have heard in a hymn or someone else’s prayer, no longer seems worthwhile. In a two-way conversation, I can get more real and talk about the sin I’ve been hiding and haven’t wanted to deal with. And I naturally want to thank God for giving me as much as He has, including the gift of conversation with Him.
Sometimes I make time for conversations like these with God, and sometimes He speaks to me in the silence. At other times, He’s silent in the silence. And sometimes I ignore Him altogether, never seeking Him out to talk. I still wish God would call me on my cell phone, and engaging with Him would still be easier if I could audibly hear His voice. But until I meet Him face-to-face, I can always kneel before my wicker laundry hamper, opening my eyes to the darkness and my ears to the silence from which God often speaks.
Because only in silence can I hear my Father’s voice.
Chris Tomlinson, Crave: Wanting so Much More of God (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2010).
We have just released a new Bible study on The Life of David as Reflected in the Psalms.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
The Early Years / Psalm 19, 8, 29
The Exile / Psalm 37, 59, 52
The Exile, Part 2 / Psalm 56, 54, 57
The King / Psalm 18, 33
The King, Part 2 / Psalm 24, 110, 60
The Tears of the Penitent / Psalm 51, 32
Chastisements / Psalm 41, 39, 55
The Songs of the Fugitive / Psalm 3, 4, 63, 62, 37