I’m learning to be silent. To stop talking, stop planning, stop scrolling, stop moving, and be silent and still as a spiritual discipline to hear the Lord. Several years ago after reading “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero I began to practice this as spiritual formation. To stop, listen to the Lord, and be more contemplative.
I have always known this was the key to being close to Jesus. He is Spirit, so our spirit man seeks union with Him. But we have too many things that rob the silence. We have evolved into a people that feels worthless, unless we are doing something and accomplishing something. Peter Scazzero says “We were not created to be human-doings, but human beings.” He is stressing that we do not slow down to be with God. I lived in this deception until I could no longer, thinking my value was based on what I did for the Lord. I worked my tail off to planting Compelled Church and often neglected my “being” and put all energy into my “doing”. The successes did not go unnoticed.
This got attention, awards, accolades, plaques, and speaking engagements. I was elected to positions I did not deserve, nor was I qualified. The Christian Tribe affirms this imbalance, and more pastors fall prey until they wear out, burn out, or get out. I was saved from this and now enjoy my life, marriage, friendships, time with Christ and pastoring more than I ever thought was possible. But pastors are not the only ones who struggle with just being with Jesus, for the purpose of relationship. Every believer does. I know this. I have been a pastor for over 30 years.
Jesus did spent time alone. “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1.35
“We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with him and him alone.” Henri Nouwen wrote this. We are not meeting with him to get-get-get–ask-ask-ask- beg-beg-beg. But we make time to be with God.
To be silent to listen to God, we need to be alone, without sound, music, news, phones, screens. Then we began to be real with God. It’s just us. No friends, no topics, no weather to discuss. It’s just our true self with a living God. Then we listen, with our hearts and spiritual ears, and transformation begins. Our thoughts merge with His thoughts, our hearts unite, and the open heart surgery of the Spirit of God picks up where it left off. We become more like Christ. We forsake the world. We desire what He desires. We grow, we contemplate, we are filled with contentment and joy as the Spirit of God speaks, without words, because the silence and solitude allows.
We can then read the Word of God for transformation not information. We can pray the Scriptures and they jump into us with life and spiritual energy. We can be convicted of sin, and convinced by our Father to forsake this world. Silence.
This kind of prayer is the prayer Jesus intended. This is the kind of prayer that makes us like him. Then when we talk, after we listen, we talk very differently, as we know how to talk to Him better. We don’t read off a to-do list to God of what we command Him to do (how foolish we are!). We don’t tell him what we have planned and command Him to bless it (ditto!). We pray and talk to our friend about true state, our heart, our pain, our fears, our need, and we are moved from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3.18).
Try it. Just try a spend a few minutes a day in utter silence and solitude and enjoy union with Christ. Enjoy being with Him. Delight in your being his son and daughter, no doing.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46.10
Pastor Nate Elarton