Thoughts on the Way Home

Friday, May 23, 2008

Silence in Prayer

I know sometimes silence in prayer can seem kind of mystical, but from the scriptures silence does seem to be one way to show him how much you respect, trust, and worship him. Grudem had a section in his chapter on prayer in his systematic theology. In one way, he didn’t say much… but in another way, if you are just talking about getting quiet and still before the Lord, what really do you need to say? What follows are some verses I thought were good and some thoughts I had.

Exodus 14:14
" The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent."

Psalm 62:1
My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.

Psalm 62:5
My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.

Psalm 65:1
There will be silence before You, and praise in Zion, O God, And to You the vow will be performed.

Lamentations 3:26
It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.

Habakkuk 2:20
"But the LORD is in His holy temple Let all the earth be silent before Him."

Zephaniah 1:7
Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests.

Zechariah 2:13
" Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD; for He is aroused from His holy habitation."

Revelation 8:1
When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Possible cautions:

Your mind may wonder - - - Maybe keep a verse or thought of God particularly in view while you wait silently. Or one thing Grudem suggested would be keeping the request you just asked in mind for a while silently before the Lord before moving down the list to another request. This particular kind of silence in prayer may even help us avoid what Ravenhill called “fast praying,” rather than “praying and fasting.”

You may feel pressure to be silent a long time - - - This would be a trap. Jesus’ principle about the gentiles’ repetition of words in their praying, would apply here. I.e. they thought of prayer like chanting magically. There is no magic formula to prayer because prayer is not magic. It’s talking to a person, namely God.

Possible helps:

Increased trust - - - Sometimes it’s good to sit back and realize that it’s not the strength of your prayers that upholds the world. It could be good to make your request known and then just be still and know that he is God, and that you can trust him with anything.

Removing awkwardness - - - Sometimes in corporate prayer settings I think people feel awkward when there is silence. This is surely unnecessary. I mean, if we’re all believers what’s the harm of being quiet before the Lord for a while? Even when it’s so-and-so’s turn to pray, don’t worry too much about rushing them or skipping them if their silent. I think seeing the value of silence could help remove the awkwardness.