Though hard to conceptualize at the beginning of an Arizona summer, while growing up in North Dakota, there was a practice that my sister and I cherished. We would go out and play in the snow and return to the house with freezing toes and feet. Our mother would get hot cocoa, sit us by the fire and get blankets from out of the dryer to wrap us up. In a few minutes we were warm, content and the outside world just did not seem as brutal and cold as it did a few minutes ago.
Our spiritual lives are much like this. Many times, the slow erosion of our souls is not detected as we frantically govern calendars, emails and meetings – all while making vain attempts at witty entries to our social media. Suddenly, we discover a gaping hole in our soul like a sink hole in the ground. Rather than engulfing houses and cars, it consumes our values, our morals and our very reality. How could we get to this point? How could we miss the subtle erosion of our souls until we are on the precipice of a spiritual, emotional, and physical collapse?
The best and lasting remedy to address this foundation-eroding place in life is a practice, or even the habit, of silence in the presence of God. This is not a place to rehearse your “give me” list; it is not about you; it is about God. It is time spent with Him, for Him, unto Him. It is a place to let Him speak to us (and He will) if we can cease the constant control of one way communication in worship that is only from us and about us, to begin to only focus on Him. If we need a life reset, a situation reset or just feel distant from God there are some practices to shock your spirit into a spiritual reset.
Clean the Outside
As Jesus taught about the seed sown among thorns, those who hear the word, “but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19) We will never experience the soul-penetrating, deep warmth of the saturating presence of God if we do not control our surroundings. Think of the last time you had a conversation in which someone did not say they were either busy or tired.
The plan of the Devil in this world is to distract you and wear you out. It can even occur in well-meaning things like parenting or even in ministry. God has called us to faithfulness, not fatigue. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day. You have to control the time given to you. If you will practice a disciplined time of silence, the world will make it without you and you will be much more valuable to the world.
Challenge: Schedule — yes schedule! time on your calendar — to take 30 minutes in a week as a beginning to start this discipline of being in the presence of God. Do not turn your phone over; turn it off. Let those around you know you need some time with Jesus. Protect it, guard it and prioritize it and you will be surprised what will occur. I encourage you to not listen to worship music, don’t even read the Bible, shut out as much sensory input as you can and just be with Jesus.
Clean the Inside
Often, as soon as we allow our minds one moment of idle time, we are either flooded with things to do or we fall asleep from exhaustion. If we are going to truly give Jesus 30 minutes, we have to prepare our minds for active time with God (I Peter 1:13). Focus on the holiness of God. Do not ask for anything, but just listen to Him, tell Him how much you love Him, but don’t talk too much. When you are speaking, you are not listening. Silence is the absence of your control in communication with God. Let Him lead the conversation.
Challenge: Go to a quiet place with only a notebook and pen. Make two lists. First, you will be reminded to get milk at the grocery, pay a bill and a hundred other things. Write them down and get them off your mind. Secondly, write what you feel, what you are processing and what you feel the Lord is speaking to you about. I have gone back to things I have written in the past which exposed the root of my honesty before God stating, “I feel nothing, I hear nothing, I think I am wasting my time.” However, I am writing. All of a sudden, below that is the sweet wisdom, encouragement and affirming identity that comes from a God who has been patiently waiting to spend these few moments with me since the dawn of time as he breathes life into my existence.
Learn That Silence Can Be Intentional, Not Empty
Too many times we confuse idleness for emptiness. When it comes to silence in the presence of God, nothing is further from the truth! Silence in God’s presence is a place of consuming fullness. It is a divine, intimate engulfing of a supernatural God with His creation. This is the place of supernatural peace “at all times and in every way," (2 Thessalonians 3:16). Fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11), guidance (Psalm 31:3), healing (Jeremiah 17:14), rest (Matthew 11:28), restoration (Psalm 23:3) – the benefits are endless. What you need may not be one more Google search, it may just be closing off your spirit from the onslaught of the world and letting the still, comforting presence of God envelop you like a blanket right out of the dryer. The outside world will seem a lot less brutal and cold.
God is patiently waiting for you. He is excited at the prospect of you putting the things of this world on hold and just giving Him a few moments to enjoy your silent, active regard for Him as your God!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.