Have you ever noticed how we have an aversion to silence? We sit trying to meditate and pray. But the silence of the moment quickly invades our space in a way that overwhelms our soul. Immediately we reach for the nearest source of noise and turn it on and turn it up so we can cancel out and overcome the silence. Admit it, we hate silence. It is such an enemy to us we keep the TV on in the background and worry if we think our children are “too quiet.” We are accustomed to noise and conditioned to clamor for any sound at all. We can’t stand silence.
I have found this to be especially true in prayer. Most of us find it hard to keep silent in prayer. We immediately jump into our prayer with request after request. Instead, slow down and add these two practices to your prayer life and you will pray with power and confidence.
The first practice is silence. We are commanded to pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18). Could it be mos
t of us pray so little in the Spirit because we pray too much with our own words, our own strength and never give the Spirit an opportunity to pray? In Romans, Paul tells us “we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes” (Romans 8:26). What would happen if we began praying in silence while begging the Spirit to intercede for us? Ask Him to pray the will of the Father. After you ask, sit in meditative silence. Could this be part of what the Psalmist meant in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know I am God?” I think one of the keys to praying in the Spirit is silence before God and allowing the Spirit to pray.
Before we proceed, consider two important things:
- We don’t always know the will of God. Case in point. A missionary is going to the 10/40 corridor (https://joshuaproject.net/resources/articles/10_40_window) to be a witness for God. What is the Father’s will? What if it’s martyrdom? We always pray for safety for our missionaries (I do too). How often do you see the early church pray for safety? I’m sure they did, but their focus was boldness to speak the Gospel fervently and with great power. As you pray for missionaries, begin with silence. Ask God’s Spirit to intercede. Then pray for all the “normal” things we pray. But give time for the Spirit to intercede.
- The Spirit always knows the Father’s will. Who would you rather have interceded for you? A person who could only know the will of the Father partially, or fully?
Let’s continue. Silence is not only needed in prayer; it allows you to implement the second strategy for powerful prayer: Listening. Richard Foster has stated well, “Though silence sometimes involves the absence of speech, it always involves the act of listening” (Celebration of Discipline page 86). How can you hear a Word from God much less understand Him if you are always talking during prayer? Jesus warns us not to use too many words in prayer (Matthew 6:7). One of the greatest virtues in prayer is listening in silence.
Two practices to implement in the closet of your prayer life are the art of silence and listening. To implement these practices, you will have to practice the discipline of solitude. You must be willing to be alone. When you are away from the everyday distractions and as you start your time of prayer and fellowship with the Father, begin on your knees in silence. Give the Spirit of God a chance to pray and then listen. You will know when it is time for you to speak. It is then when you begin to pray over your list with confidence that God hears your prayers and He can meet every request.
Get off alone; turn off Facebook and the TV. Be quiet, listen, and then pray.