Over the last few years we have tried to introduce silence into some of our services. Not laughing, chatting, whispering or quiet musicâ€¦just a bit of stillness in the face of God.
Stillness and quiet in the modern church been seems to have been demoted from services to early in the morning and called â€˜a quiet timeâ€™, not that there is anything wrong with a quiet itâ€™s just some of us are not good first thing in the morning. On the occasions I have tried it I had just about mastered the art of sleeping sitting up rather than some deep and meaningful time with God.
Maybe people are uncomfortable with silence because for a few moments we are freed from the ambush of thoughts and thought patterns; we are opened up to ourselves and to our inner selves, we are not distracted by music, television, the noise of the daily grind that quadraphonically reverberates inside our heads like a full 360 degrees of chattering chaos.
One scientist now estimated that only 30% sounds that fill our environment are natural, sounds like water, wind, animals, us, etc. and the 70% are technological noise so that is machines, traffic, phones, music, etc.
That chaos is comfort for most of us, for most of the time. Have you ever been on remote holiday and commented on â€˜how quiet it isâ€™, personally I love that but for some it can cause a few problems sleeping and can be extremely uncomfortable.
It is little wonder then that we are seeing a rise in the interest of silent prayer. The likes Contemplative prayers such as Lectio Divina are becoming ever more popular even though it has been part of Christian life since the earliest days.
â€œBut when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask himâ€ Matthew 6:6-8 NIV
Silence is part of our tradition and heritage.
For instance when I was a child the church I went to as a child was considered a holy place, where people came to pray and to wait upon God in silence. I was taught always to whisper or speak quietly in church, except when singing hymns or when the service had finished and only to speak at all other times when absolutely necessary. Of course I got â€˜shushedâ€™ many times but then again I was a child.
Now days it seems fine for people to chat which to me shows a lack of respect for God and a lack of consideration for others who wish to observe prayer or communion in silence. I wonder why that isâ€¦maybe it is to do with our view of who Jesus is?
How do you perceive Jesus?
As your best friend, that person who is the one friend who is closest to you
As your Lord and Master, King of Kings, Lord of Lords
Is it possible that our perception of Jesus is responsible for the way we act in sacred spaces?
I would recommend the Order of St Benedict for good advice on how to do Lectio Divina.
For the Daily Office is online everyday from the Celtic Christian Northumbria Community
The Orthodox Christian Information Centre has an interesting article about the Jesus prayer