For God alone my soul waits in silence, my hope is from him ... (Psalm 62:5).
Be still and know that I am God ... (Psalm 46:10).
One of the most countercultural moves we can make is to spend time alone and in quiet. Silence and solitude are essential elements for the person who wants a more intimate experience of the presence of God. As in any love relationship, it is important to have time alone together in order to get beyond relating on a superficial level to relating with real depth and intimate communication. This is true in our relationship with God.
We may have known about Jesus before. We may have heard and read the Gospel stories about him. We may have been told things about him, but if we haven’t been a praying person we will not have had the same kind of intimate personal encounter that happens in prayer. Hearing about someone from another source is never the same as getting to know that person personally. If we are quiet in our prayer and leave time to listen, God will communicate with us in ways that will help us to know God in an intimate and personal way. We will learn to recognize God by the peace and love we begin to experience even in the midst of difficult times.
In the 19th chapter of 1 Kings, we read of the prophet Elijah being under tremendous stress. There were threats against his life, he felt completely alone, and he was afraid. He traveled a day’s journey into the wilderness and sat down under a tree. He was so depressed he asked God to take his life. It was in these dire circumstances that Elijah heard the “still small voice” of God in the silence. He couldn’t hear God in the earthquake, or the wind, or the fire—only in silence.
The same is true for us. Often we must get away from our surroundings to really begin to experience the presence of God even when our circumstances are very ordinary. This is even truer when we are surrounded by constant noise and busyness or when we are going through difficult times of depression, loneliness, or fear. In the place of solitude and silence we can begin to hear God and experience God’s intimate, loving presence in our lives.
Many books on prayer written in earlier periods of Church history were written by monks or nuns who were cloistered in monasteries and living in silence. They spent their lives listening and in prayer with God. It may seem that their lifestyle wouldn’t have anything to say to those of us who live in 21st-century Western culture; however, our culture is spiritually and psychologically starving for silence. Most of us live in constant noise pollution and don’t even know it.
Check out this week's articles:
Papua New Guinea's dynamite women: (right) Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman inspires Lutherans to challenge their cultures.
When pastors divorce: A congregation may feel betrayal, sadness, anger or guilt.
Dating: The experience produces life skills.
Adding up pennies and more: Youth give their offerings to help others.Also: Economic resource for synods.
Feb. 3-10: Join Emlyn Ott (right), executive director of Healthy Congregations Inc. and a professor at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio, to discuss the congregational effects of a pastor's divorce.
Ott says that when rumors begin to spread, leadership should "give clear information about what is actually happening rather than letting people fill in the gaps."
Consider reading "When pastors divorce" before joining the conversation.
This week on our blog:
Julie Sevig (right) blogs about handwritten letters.
Introducing our parenting blog
Tell us! Communicating hope
How are you communicating hope in these hard economic times? Pastors, are your preaching and pastoral care changing—and if so, how? Lay people, how are you caring for friends, family, neighbors and colleagues
in word and deed? Is there a silver lining to this dark cloud? Respond 300 words maximum) to firstname.lastname@example.org or to her at The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago IL 60631 by March 10. Please include your name, congregation, city and state.
Or respond online ...
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