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December 21, 2015

Silence

The spiritual discipline of silence is accomplished by closing ourselves off as much as possible to any sounds, noise, music, or words. I would also add no electronic communication, no cell phone or social media. Silence can be frightening. We seldom slow down enough to do any real examination of our lives. I think this discipline is becoming more and more difficult in our culture. We're always connected to someone, or listening to something, and we have grown dependent on this input. Willard says "And in that quiet, what if there turns out to be very little to 'just us and God?' Think what it says about the inward emptiness of our lives" if we're always filling the quiet space with music, audible stimuli of some sort. Is it possible that we often replace quality of life with quantity? Do we get so busy and spin so many plates that we don't have time to think about the real inner life with Christ?

The discipline of silence will often accompany the discipline of solitude. You may be able to find quiet in the early morning or late at night. I find silence difficult because I feel I need to have worship music of some kind playing in order to pray, meditate on God, or study the Word. When I turn the music off and enter into silence, my mind begins to race with thousands of other things. Music has the power to focus our minds, but we need to learn the discipline of controlling our thoughts, taking them captive, and focusing on God in our own minds without outside assistance.

Willard suggests we "approach the practice of silence in a prayerful, experimental attitude, confident that we shall be led into its right use for us." I would recommend finding a quiet place with no disturbances or distractions and remain there for 15 or 30 minutes, whatever you can do. Take the time to ask the Holy Spirit for help. Submit yourself to his instruction. He will guide you in this or any of these disciplines. The skill to focus our mind on the Lord in these disciplines will take time and practice. The spiritual benefits will be well worth the effort.