We may not be used to silence, it may not be our natural way of being because we live in the world filled with noise, and yet it is precisely in the moments of stillness that we can hear the voice of God speaking to us gently, as He spoke to Elijah in the cave. In 1 Book of Kings 19:11-13 we read:
The Lord said to Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
God was in the gentle whisper, or as some translations say, ‘in the sound of the sheer silence’. Some level of interior silence lets us hear God. I think sometimes we may be afraid of what God may tell us, ask of us, but we need to keep in mind that our God is a loving, good God, and that His will for us is our wellbeing. Finding moments of stillness also lets us come to God and rest in His presence. In silence we give room for God to speak to us, sometimes beyond words. In silence we know, even for a brief moment, that the God of the universe wishes to speak His words into our lives, into our hearts, and even more profoundly He shares His presence with us.
When we integrate these moments of stillness in our busy lives we allow ourselves to rest with God, to enjoy His presence and we give Him permission to speak to us, if He so wishes. We can do so in a prayerful setting, finding a sacred space where we come to God in prayer. However, we can also find stillness when we wait for a bus or on a traffic light, and in various moments of the day. We can pause for a short while, direct our awareness towards God, still ourselves interiorly, and listen. And if we don’t hear anything it is good to know that God is there listening to us. We can then just ‘be’ with Him, enjoying His presence throughout our days.
Dr Iva Beranek is the Ministry Facilitator for the CMH: Ireland