Whenever my family is together it’s noisy. Lots of laughter, conversation, and just good fun. When someone prays over a meal or for one another however, everyone is quiet immediately.
When Woodland Church worships in song it’s a joyful sound. The band, singers, and the congregation sing out our praises to God. Many of the songs we sing are passages from the Bible set to music. Often after we finish singing a song, our church family claps loudly to the Lord. It would be impossible for me to tell you how many people have said to me through the years how much they enjoyed the congregation’s participation in worship. Almost weekly though, we will be quiet and reflective in our worship. It doesn’t feel weird; it feels right to be silent before the Lord.
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13, NLT)
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1, NLT)
Everyday we need a time of silence in our lives to withdraw from the noise, even good noise, to worship and listen. Sometimes the voice of the Lord is like a gentle whisper. Deep within us is a longing to hear the voice of the Lord. Unlike people who tell us what they want us to hear. God speaks to the deepest needs, hurts, passions, and dreams of our lives. He draws them out. “What are you doing here,” He gently whispers to you. You must be quiet to hear.
If you are a mother, that can be hard. My wife raised four children while I traveled frequently. She made time during naps, or lessons, in the morning, or evening to be alone with the Lord. Once she read a biography of John Wesley’s mother, Susannah. Susannah raised 10 children. When she pulled an apron over her head, the children knew to be quiet for mother was withdrawing to be with the Lord in prayer.
Schedule time to withdraw daily to listen to God in prayer with your Bible and notebook or journal. Use your lunchtime, like some men in our church do. They sit in their truck and have lunch and wait upon the Lord in prayer. Go to the park and walk a trail and listen for God. Genesis describes how God would meet Adam and Eve in the garden. I really like the fact that some people come to Woodland and sit in the parking lot, in the summer spread a blanket under a tree, or even sit quietly in the sanctuary to pray.
So make an appointment with God, show up early prepared to listen. “Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you.” James 4:8 PT