Two weeks ago I launched a new discipleship group here at the church. Eight brave souls are journeying with me to deepen their walk with Christ and grow into spiritual maturity. We will be covering many topics and observing many disciplines this year. One discipline that stands out is our need to find quiet time.
It doesn’t take long for someone who lives in the New York City area to figure out that this isn’t a quiet place. Even as I write this blog I can hear many noises coming from Plandome Road: trucks downshifting and braking, car horns sounding, police sirens roaring, and people yelling to each other across the street. The phone also rings in the office and I can hear people laughing out in the hallway. My pastor’s study could be sound proof and somehow the noise coming from “out there” would still break through.
With constant hullabaloo resounding, unwelcome interruptions are inevitable. We live in an area known for its perpetual distractions. Where is one to go in order to find a peaceful, quiet setting to contemplate and pray? Where should one go if they are trying to find that still small voice of God? Would a walk through a park do it? Sitting at a study carrel in a library? What about visiting a church? Better yet, a graveyard?
There are a plethora of places we could go. Where is that place for you? If you’re not sure, perhaps it’s time for you to find one.
As a Christian who has been journeying with Jesus for over 20 years, I have found the practice of slowing my pace and quieting myself before God to be most rewarding. During these moments of silent prayer and contemplation, whether I am in my study or sitting on a bench in a cemetery, I have discovered authentic moments of intimacy with God. These are moments when I was sure that I was experiencing the precious gift of God’s very presence. Even now the words of the Psalmist come to mind, “But for me it is good to be near God.”
Several years ago, as a student in seminary, I walked past a professor’s office and noticed something peculiar. I was caught off guard because it looked as if this professor was sleeping while sitting perfectly upright in his chair. I couldn’t believe my eyes so I stopped and stared, wondering if he was really sleeping. It wasn’t long before I realized what was really going on. This professor was holding a regular appointment with God through silent meditation. With all the work that he could have been doing, he took time to pray and center himself in the divine presence. I learned a valuable lesson that day.
In his book, So, You Want to Be Like Christ?, Charles Swindoll dedicates an entire chapter on the subject of silence and solitude. In this chapter he talks about the importance of sustained periods of quietness and the way in which God will transform our hearts during those moments. He writes:
Our responsibility is to pursue time away from television noise, radio chatter, endless and silly commercials, and the din of mercenary traffic around us. Alone and quiet, in that place of stillness and solitude where we protect and guard our hearts with all diligence from the clamor of a world that would pollute it, God will lead us to springs of life bubbling from somewhere deep within.
Whether you live here in busy New York or somewhere a little less noisy and fast-paced, it is my hope and prayer that you will be able to discover the joy that comes from being still in the presence of God. Even if you have never tried to slow down and rest in God’s presence, I want to encourage you to do so now. Close your eyes and allow God to minister to your soul by meditating on the following words:
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