18 What use is a carved idol after its craftsman carves it? It is only a cast image, a teacher of lies. For the one who crafts its shape trusts in it and makes idols that cannot speak. 19 Woe to him who says to wood: Wake up! or to mute stone: Come alive! Can it teach? Look! It may be plated with gold and silver, yet there is no breath in it at all. 20 But the Lord is in His holy temple; let everyone on earth be silent in His presence.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
On June 16, 2002, the doors of Brentwood Baptist Church on 7777 Concord Road opened to the public for worship for the very first time. As the service opened, the lights were dimmed and an organ chimed several times to signify the call to worship. There were several moments of silence before the choir began to sing a cappella, “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silent before Him.”
I remember that moment so clearly. First, because it was such a powerful and profound way to begin the very first worship service in our new home. Second, because those moments of silence created a palpably uncomfortable moment for all those in attendance who weren’t in on the worship planning.
What is it about silence that makes us so uncomfortable? Why do most of us have a need to find something to say when there is a lull in the conversation? Why do we habitually turn either the radio or TV on when we walk into a room? Why, when we are praying silently, do we struggle so much to keep our minds focused on communicating with the God who created and loves us?
Could it be that we are addicted to noise? Are we afraid to give ourselves an opportunity to think or pray too deeply, for fear of what might come out of our time of solitude and reflection? Many of us may not even realize that we aren’t leaving any room for quiet in our lives, but we are all too aware of the resulting exhaustion and restlessness that comes from its lack.
In today’s passage, Habakkuk encouraged the people to keep silent before the Lord. Why? Because silence symbolizes reverence, awe and fear. Our God is completely holy and just, worthy of not only our praise, but also our silence. When we are silent before Him it shows that we find it enough to simply be in His presence. We want to hear from Him, and it is impossible to hear God when we are speaking.
I have found that in order to be silent before the Lord I must first confess my sin and ask Him to help me clear my thoughts and make room for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Then I have to be willing to sit for several moments, meditating on the goodness of God and His character, asking Him to reveal Himself to me in a new way.
God doesn’t often work in our limited time constraints, so we must be willing to put forth the effort to be still. It doesn’t come naturally, but the payoff is so worth the initial discomfort.
If silence before God is new to you, commit to Him that you will begin making the time to simply sit in quiet moments of prayer, basking in His presence and worshiping Him silently for all that He is.
If the idea of quiet before the Lord seems uncomfortable or even impossible, ask God to reveal to you where the discomfort is coming from. Is it unconfessed sin? Is it pride or a sense that your time is too important to waste on being still? If so, confess these things and ask for His help in beginning a new walk with Him.
Begin today to carve out space in your personal time with the Lord for simple silence.