In Defense of Silence


Silence has to be a part of our relationship with our Savior. In Habakkuk 3:19 we read, “Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Trappist Thomas Merton wrote, “A man who loves God necessarily loves silence.”  Jesus had his favorite places to go alone; the garden of Gethsemane was one. He needed to get away from the crowds and followers. He needed the time alone in silence with the Father. Job said, “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.“

Silence is difficult for many of us. We kill the silence with words. We need to spend time in silence. It is hard to feel the closeness of Jesus without silence. The greatest tribute we can pay to anyone “…is a moment of silence.”  We need many of those moments with God.

Build into each day periods of silence. This might be in the family room or office before the family rises in the morning. Perhaps give yourself extra time before a plane departure and slip into the chapel available in most major airports. Public libraries can be a place to embrace silence. Some cathedrals and church sanctuaries are open for prayer and meditation.

Let God speak to you as you sit in silence. I find that ideas, names of people, and issues sometimes enter my mind in times of silence. I often sit in our solarium in the early morning darkness or out on our deck in warm weather. People and ideas just seem to “float” into my consciousness; I try to respond by contacting that person or giving attention to an issue that I have forgotten about. Without the silence, I cannot bring these thoughts to the forefront of my mind.

Develop leisure time activities that involve silence. Walking the streets of our city before rush hour traffic and before children are walking to school is such a time for me. Place a bird feeder near a window in your kitchen and observe the birds as they come for food. Just clearing your mind for the activities of the day can give you peace and comfort.

You need silence for prayer time. Perhaps a reason David was described as a man after God’s own heart—in spite of his sins—is because as a shepherd he had much silent time to commune with God. Even Jesus, the perfect human, still needed quiet time to pray to the father.

Herman Melville wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended to by silence.” That includes our time with the Master each day.

According to Plutarch, writing in 4 B.C., Herod Archelaus, a well-known politician and tetrarch of Judea, sat down in the chair of his local barbershop. “How would you like your hair trimmed?” asked the chattering barber. Archelaus responded, “In silence.”