I just started reading a book called "Whisper" by Mark Batterson, and just the first chapter has kind of tied together a whole bunch of loose things that I've been learning over the past few weeks.
All my life, I have thought of prayer as basically a monologue. That's always what it has felt like, and I think most people feel the same way. We call it talking to God, but we leave no time for Him to speak to us. I think a lot of us think He doesn't speak, but in reality, he does. We just often aren't listening. That's the goal of the book; to teach us to listen. To be silent. To hear from God.
Now, like I said, I just started the book, so I'm not gonna act like I'm a pro at this or something. But here's what I've learned and noticed: Silence is rare for me. I always have so much to do, and at any time I don't have a responsibility to fulfill, I have little projects I like to work on for fun, or to play video games for a bit and unwind, or something like that.
I'm also a very work-oriented person. I HATE being bored, and I think that's partly why I've let myself become so busy. I hate the feeling that I'm not accomplishing something. It seems like I'm wasting my time or wasting my life if I'm not getting something done. And because of that, I always am finding something to do. When nothing is going on, I'll turn on a podcast, watch a YouTube video, or pull out my phone.
But God speaks in silence. God speaks in a whisper. That's truth found all throughout Scripture. The Bible describes it as a "still small voice". Why does God speak so quietly? Batterson, the author of Whisper, explains it this way: When someone whispers to you, what do you have to do to hear? You lean in! God desires intimacy with us, and so he speaks to us in whispers so that we will come close to Him.
Silence isn't wasting time. It's listening, waiting, on God. He is always speaking, but so often we miss the things he says amidst our business and desire to be accomplishing things. Make no mistake: Our command is to make disciples. But we aren't meant to be constantly DOING things: God desires relationship with us. He gives us the Sabbath as a day of rest. We aren't supposed to be constantly working.
I've gone through a time of my life where I would never let myself be in a place that was silent, because the idea of being alone with my thoughts was terrifying. The devil had a stronghold in my mind, and whenever I was alone, he would use that to beat me down. I was so afraid of silence.
Now, fortunately, that time has passed. I'm not sure exactly what changed, as it was a while ago, but I still have never really let myself have a lot of time for silence, because it felt like a waste. But silence isn't waste. God speaks in the silence, and He desires me to hear Him.
In reflecting how to bring more silence in my life, I've had to identify why I don't have any now. And the biggest reason? Technology. My phone is a constant distraction. Who doesn't immediately pull out their phone when it dings or vibrates to see what it is? We are constantly being interrupted. It's the biggest reason that I struggle to get things done sometimes is constant distraction and looking down.
So what I've decided to do is I did what I was so scared to do: I turned on "Screen Time" in my iOS settings. I'm very scared to see how much time I spend on my phone. But I've also gone and muted notifications for almost all apps aside from text messages. It's a constant distraction that I don't need.
God speaks in silence. For so long, I felt distant from God, but that wasn't because He was far from me. It's because I wouldn't come close to Him, even as He was speaking. I distanced myself through business. But now, I desire to hear His heart. I don't want to spend my life trying to do things FOR God. I want to spend my life hearing FROM Him, and acting in obedience to what He has to say to me. And I can hear what He has to say to me in the silence.
"Be still, and know that I am God."