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The Power Of Silence

An interesting story in scripture surrounds the birth of John the Baptist. His parents were Elizabeth and Zechariah, a Jewish priest. They had grown old without having any children. (Luke 1:5-25, 57-80, NIV)

While Zechariah was in the temple one day performing his priestly duties, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah to inform him that he and Elizabeth were going to have a son named John, who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Zechariah was skeptical and asked for a sign. Perhaps Gabriel was a little miffed. Zechariah was a priest after all and should have been able to discern that Gabriel spoke the truth.

You want a sign, do you? Well, here it is. Zechariah would be unable to speak until the baby was born. When John was born, Zechariah sang or chanted the song found in Luke 1:68-79 with humility and praise.

We are familiar with a religious vow of silence usually taken in a monastic context. When this is done, silence is observed during certain hours of the day, certain days of the week, or maybe for longer periods of time. When this silence is observed, it is a time to be in communion with God, to listen for his voice, to discern his will. It is a powerful time of renewal.

Being silent for nine months, though, would be out of the question for most of us. That doesn’t mean that silence should be completely out of the question. Remember Luke 5:16: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” The Lord knew the closeness silence could bring between him and God. He knew that it could clear his mind and help him focus on God’s will for him. It can do the same for us.

And remember Ecclesiastes 3 where the seasons of time are listed. One of those seasons is “a time to be silent.” (3:7)


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