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Hearing God in the Silence

If you’ve ever vacationed at a remote location far from city lights and traffic sounds, you may have been struck by the silence.

Staring up at the vast sky, seeing the brilliance of the stars and moon shining above, you sense the beauty of God’s creation. In the silence, you hear the wind whistling through the trees or the waves lapping at the shore. And sometimes, if it is very still, you can even hear the sound of your own heart.

In our modern age, silence is rare. Even now, in my Chicago office, I can hear the traffic below with cabs honking and the occasional scream of sirens. But when I do have the opportunity to get away and experience quiet, it is easy to feel close to my Creator. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

Did you know that the word noise is derived from the Latin word nausea? Apparently, it related to the moaning sounds seasick passengers would make while traveling long distances on ancient vessels. But even though modern life forces us to accommodate noise, we need a place in our Christian walk to be silent. Sometimes we concentrate on the words we will say to God in prayer, and we can also come before God in silence. As the psalmist describes, “My soul, wait in silence for God only. For my hope is from Him (Ps. 62:5, nasb).

By being silent, we can more clearly listen for God’s voice. I think of young Samuel, startled in the night when he heard God’s voice call his name. Unnerved, the young boy sought advice from the priest Eli. What should he do when he heard God call again?

“Eli told Samuel, ‘Go lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place” (1 Sam. 3:9). As Samuel lay there in the silence, he did hear God speak again. This time Samuel was ready: “Speak, for your servant is listening” (v. 10).

We can be tempted to fill our Christian journey with words and noise, and there’s a time when we should speak and praise and make a joyful noise. But we must also carve out time to be still and listen for God’s voice. As we spend time in the Word this month, we can devote some moments to silence. Allow God to speak to your heart and be prepared to hear the message He has for you!

BY Greg Thornton, Interim President of Moody Global Ministries

Greg Thornton is interim president of Moody Global Ministries. During Thornton’s 35 years of ministry at Moody, he has served in various roles, most recently as senior vice president of media. Moody’s Alumni Association named Thornton Alumnus of the Year in 2015. Thornton is a member of The Moody Church, where he serves as an elder. He and his wife, Grace, have been married for more than 35 years and have three children and five grandchildren.

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