Since the first of the year, I have been encouraging you this year to commit and push deeper into becoming a disciple worth multiplying by pursuing God through fasting, prayer, searching the Scriptures, accountability, and sharing of the gospel.
Anyone who knows me, knows I value silence and the power of silent prayers of a people. I begin every house church gathering, and almost every meeting or gathering with a time of communal silent prayer.
C.S. Lewis’s book “The Screwtape Letters” is a book that reveals the correspondence between Screwtape, the under-secretary to the devil, and his nephew, Wormwood. Screwtape instructs Wormwood on the best ways to tempt the followers of the Enemy, God. I love and I am convicted by this passage from the book where Screwtape, in presenting the Devil’s mindset, (the “Father” in the passage) explains to Wormwood his hate of silence.
“My dear Wormwood: Music and silence–how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since our Father entered Hell–though longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could express, no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise–Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it. Research is in progress.”
A brother of mine and encourager in my faith, Lance Gilbreath, sent me this prayer this morning. It spoke to me and into our desire to become a church that fasts and prays, and my heart for silence and prayer. He gave me permission to share it with you this morning as a guest blog. From Lance:
"I greet you this morning with a word of encouragement about the journey you are on. I merely hope that the struggle of my own journey helps bring strength to you and others. For a long period of time now I have lamented and have been in a place of torment of a place of silence that I could not explain. I turned to inspecting every part of my heart and examining my lifestyle like a fine too comb in this place of silence As always I try to find comfort in prayer scripture and song. My prayers seemed utterly useless, my songs seemed like noise and scripture sounded like good stories. Only thing I've had is blind faith. This morning while reading and praying I see the same place of silence for those in the Bible like Isaiah. “I have been silent for a long time. I kept quiet and held myself back. But like a woman in childbirth I will cry out. I will gasp and pant.” Isaiah 42:14
I dig deeper to try to gain understanding, purpose , plan and direction in my own life. I find this is part of God's plan for me. God is silencing everything but him Silencing my own thought on my mind, my ears, my eyes, my heart, my lips, my tongue and all the noise around me.
Silence gives us a new outlook on everything. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say but what God says to us and through us. Jesus is always waiting for us in silence. In that silence, he will listen to us, there he will speak to our soul, and there we will hear his voice.
If we are careful of silence it will be easy to pray and to pray fervently. There is so much talk, so much repetition, so much carrying of tales in words and in writing. Our prayer life suffers so much because our hearts are not silent. The interior silence is very difficult, but we must make the effort to pray. In silence we will find new energy and true unity. The energy of God will be ours to do all things well, and so will the unity of our thoughts with his thoughts, the unity of our prayers with his prayers, the unity of our actions with his actions, of our life with his life. All our words will be useless unless they come from within. Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness. To make possible true interior silence, we shall practice: Silence of the eyes, by seeking always the beauty and goodness of God everywhere, closing them to the faults of others and to all that is sinful and disturbing to the soul;
Silence of the ears, by listening always to the voice of God and to the cry of the poor and the needy, closing them to all other voices that come from the evil one or from fallen human nature: e.g., gossip, tale-bearing, and uncharitable words; Silence of the tongue, by praising God and speaking the life-giving Word of God that is the Truth that enlightens and inspires, brings peace, hope, and joy, and by refraining from self-defense and every word that causes darkness, turmoil, pain, and death, Silence of the mind, by opening it to the truth and knowledge of God in prayer and contemplation, like Mary who pondered the marvels of the Lord in her heart, and by closing it to all untruths, distractions, destructive thoughts, rash judgment, false suspicions of others, revengeful thoughts, and desires, Silence of the heart, by loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and one another as God loves, desiring God alone and avoiding all selfishness, hatred, envy, jealousy, and greed.
It's my prayer that some how you have gained encouragement out of this for your own journey."
I encourage you today to seek out times of silence to allow you heart to both speak words to and receive words from the Holy Spirit.
Please share your reflections or experiences on silence and prayer in the comment box below.