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How to Create Inner Silence

When from our better selves we have too long

Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,

Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,

How gracious, how benign, is Solitude—William Wordsmith [1]

In the Bible, The Greek word behind the English ‘wilderness’ is eremos. This word does not exclusively mean wilderness but could also be translated as desert, deserted place, desolate place, solitary place, lonely place, or a quiet place. The wilderness is therefore not a specific place defined by geography, but by silence.

Why did the Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness for forty days to have him sit in the silent solitude of the wilderness? While there are theological reasons, a practical reason was to give Christ a baseline, or rather, a starting point for comparison. Baselines are the places we return to examine objectively and comparatively new information to determine future action.

Jesus would establish a baseline for his communion with the Father by isolating himself for forty days with him. And throughout his ministry, he would consistently return to the quiet place for recalibration, re-evaluation, and discernment (Lk 6:12, Matt. 14:13, Matt. 14:23, Mark 1:35, 6:31, Lk 5:16, Matt. 17:1–9, Matt. 26:36–46).

If Christ who was sinless felt the need to isolate with God, how much more necessary is it for us to isolate with God to have communion with the Father? The example of Christ invites us to carve out moments of quiet in our lives to be alone with God, away from the noise of life, in order to cultivate inner silence. Inner silence is important because Scripture calls God’s voice a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). If we are to hear God’s voice it is necessary to turn down all the noise that can drown it out.

As the fourth-century church father, John Chrysostom, said in his sermon On the Incomprehensible Nature of God line 10:16, “Christ taught by example, spending whole long nights in the desert praying. He did this to teach and admonish us that, whenever we are going to converse with God, we must flee from the noise, the confusion, and the crowds. Instead, we should go off to a place which is deserted and go at a time when our solitude will not be interrupted. A mountain does not offer the only solitude; a room where there is no clamor or uproar is just as much a place of solitude.”[2]

While silence is a difficult discipline to master, there are easy steps you can take to begin cultivating inner silence:

  1. Make time. It does not need to be long, it can be as short as thirty seconds, intentionality is what matters! Train yourself to be able to sit still in your chair without distraction or walk/exercise in silence. As you become more comfortable you can lengthen the time of silence.

  2. Use few Words. Take this time to pray, but do not bother yourself with talking too much. Prayer is just as much listening as it is talking.

  3. Short Readings. If you are doing some reading, keep the reading short. Claim a promise of Scripture and sit in silence with that promise.

  4. Long Silence. This is the hard part, and it is okay if your mind wanders. When you catch yourself wandering, just return your focus. Always remember that solitude is a grace and God is glad you are here, there is no shame in our mind wandering.

  5. Listen. Listen to your breath, heartbeat, the song of birds, the laughter of children, the rain, etc… hearing God’s voice begins with learning to listen to our surroundings not merely hear them.

Today, the spirit is leading you to the quiet place. The Lord is inviting you to sit in silence with him. Let us run to the quiet place, for it is there that God waits for us.

[1] Wordsworth, William. The Prelude: Four Texts (1798, 1799, 1805, 1850) (Penguin Classics) (p. 161). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

[2] Payton Jr., James R.. A Patristic Treasury, Early Church Wisdom for Today (p. 438). Ancient Faith Publishing. Kindle Edition.


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