When we're children, being quiet can seem like the most impossible task. We're just learning how to use our voices as instruments for creating sounds (many of them very loud) and figuring out how to use this new method of communication effectively. At such young ages, we're not developed enough to appreciate the value of silence and often rebel when it's imposed on us.
By the time we're adults, you'd think we'd have got the hang of keeping schtum but as we grow older, spending periods of time in silence doesn't come easy either. Whether it's the busy traffic outside our office window, or the incessant buzz of our mobile phones, peace and quiet is rarely a fixed part of our everyday.
Although society reveres great speakers, sometimes silence can be the most profound thing. In the midst of a world saturated with sounds, this is something that more and more of us are seeking, and as Christians there's a reason why finding moments of peace is even more vital.
Whether it's silence at school or in our adult life, the purpose in both cases is often to encourage listening to a teacher or someone who knows more than us about something.
For Christians, silence as a tool for stimulating better listening to a teacher takes on a whole new meaning. When we're intentionally silent in a spiritual setting, it's through a concerted effort to devote our full attention to God.
In these moments it's not about our ability to command an audience with witty words but hearing His words of love and guidance for us. After all, if we're talking all the time (including mental chatter) or directing our attentions elsewhere, how can we hear what God is saying.
The Bible itself speaks of the wisdom in being still and listening, as the verses below demonstrate, so make sure you don't skip on this important discipline:
Exodus 14:14 - The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
James 1:19 - My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
Ecclesiastes 3:7 - A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
Proverbs 17:27-28 - The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.
Lamentations 3:26 - It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Habakkuk 2:20 - The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
Proverbs 11:12 - Whoever derides their neighbour has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
Romans 10:17 - Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Psalm 141:3 - Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Zephaniah 1:7 - Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near. The Lord has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited.
Psalm 37:7 - Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.