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Worship The Lord With Silence

“The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.”

Habakkuk 2:20, NIV

Habakkuk 2:20 presents a holy, reverential way to worship. It’s never used for most of our worship services, but my guess has always been that if it were tried once in a while, we would find it to be more powerful than the “normal worship practices” we use.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we eliminate those normal practices–just that we employ the kind of worship Habakkuk recommends.

During our normal practices, we have short periods of silence, but it seems that if the silence is more than 15-30 seconds, the congregation becomes restless. Make it a full minute, and the silence seems unbearable to some. We are so accustomed to hearing words and some form of noise that real, sustained silence seems otherworldly. And I suppose it is–a world in which our thoughts are filled with God and his Spirit and nothing else.

It would be interesting, maybe courageous, for a church to spend 60 minutes in worshipful silence. I wonder what the effect would be. There is a way to find out. Attend a Quaker or Friends meeting. It’s probably necessary to attend more than one meeting to begin to absorb its powerful effect. And even in such a meeting, a Friend may feel led to present a brief message or posit a query for meditation. But, compared to other groups, there is silence.

And consider a couple of other passages of scripture:

“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:26)

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Be still. Wait quietly. Keep silence.

Words to the wise.

2 comments… add one
  • Lucy Phillips May 1, 2018, 2:23 PM

    I remember the hymn Daddy sang from that verse — can still hear him singing those words, “Keep silence, keep silence, keep silence before Him.”

    • John B. Phillips May 2, 2018, 10:51 AM

      So do I. It’s a great song, because of its brevity and substance, to use in beginning a worship service. I don’t remember thinking this when Daddy was leading the singing, but I think now it would be meaningful to actually keep silence after the song–not necessarily for the remainder of the service in its entirety but for a distinct period of time until moving to the next part of the service. As I recall, Daddy would punctuate each “keep silence” with a short, but noticeable, period of silence.

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