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“Dispelling the Rumor That God Can be Found Only in the Silence”
by Big Noisy God By Lynn Lusby Pratt   
January 8th, 2016

Have you heard the rumor going around—that God can be found “only in the silence”? Don’t buy it.

Please understand. I love quiet. I drive for hours with the radio off, sit in the porch swing and listen to the birds, and lie on Gram’s quilt in the dark to watch the stars. I insist on quiet for Bible and prayer time. (Well, OK, sometimes ya gotta have Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir as background!)

I agree that our lives are too frantic. It’s good to slow down. But statements like these trouble me:

The believer must first achieve a state of silence . . . and then God works in the believer’s heart.

In order to experience the power of God, we must experience the presence of God. In order to experience the presence of God, we need to make a habit of spending time in silence.

It is necessary to go beyond words or images and to seek God deep within the silence which resides within us.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. . . . We need silence to be able to touch souls.

Are those people serious? Does the Lord vacate the premises when it’s noisy and then return when things quiet down?

Isn’t God present, active, when the grandchildren squeal, “Thank you, God, for ICE CREAM!” Don’t tell me that the Lord can’t be found in the middle of our noisy routines like preparing a holiday dinner, repairing the car, working on the assembly line, or shouting for the fourth time, “Wesley! Come down out of that tree this instant!” And He’s present whether we’re inside a deafening tornado or enjoying fireworks or sobbing in the emergency room or cheering the home team.

Of course He is.

Psalm 139:7-10 says that no matter where we go, God is there.

The Lord says, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? . . . Do I not fill heaven and earth?”
(Jeremiah 23:24).

Jesus gave His followers assurance of His constant presence: “The Spirit of truth . . . [dwells] with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17).

But we’re being told that when you make “a time for your mind and your heart to be still,” then “God can meet you and fill you with His presence.” No, He’s present and accessible always—and in the ways He’s set in place: we hear from Him through His Word, which His Spirit teaches us (1 Corinthians 2:13), and speak with Him in normal prayer.

Yes, normal prayer. That “silence” the contemplatives refer to isn’t normal porch-swing silence but is the altered state of consciousness reached through mantra meditation, which, supposedly, mystically achieves a communion with God not attainable through prayer and reading the Word. If you hadn’t picked up on that before, do an hour of research. Then come back and read the quotes in this article from that perspective; you’ll see that’s what is meant.

The mystics would have us believe that regular prayer is inferior. Perhaps we’re in a precarious position and in danger of losing our connection? Or at least it seems we must outsmart and unlock the cosmic portal—as if in some video game—to transcend/force our way into a spiritual realm. But aren’t believers in Christ in a “spiritual realm” all the time? I mean, if it helps you to look at it that way, Scripture says that believers “are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit” (Romans 8:9). The only prerequisite for being “in the Spirit” (the spiritual realm) is  “if . . .  the Spirit of God dwell in you” (vs. 9). And the Bible says that this happens when we are born again.

Where in Scripture do we find that God can’t be known, doesn’t act, and may not even be present except in this place called “the silence”? Why, God has done some of His best work with the volume turned up.

Remember the 1 Kings 18, 19 account of Elijah and the prophets of Baal? Hundreds of chanting false prophets, Elijah’s taunting, louder shouting, Elijah praying out loud—with words, the fire from Heaven . . . I’m thinking everybody “experienced God” that day!

And then when Elijah was in a cave after that event, there was wind, earthquake . . . and yes, the still, small voice about which the contemplatives make so much fuss. But that was one tiny moment in a long, cacophonous drama. God was never out of reach. Elijah didn’t need to “be put into a kind of suspended animation before [a] deep work of God upon the soul [could] occur.”

In Judges 7, Gideon’s soldiers all blew their trumpets on cue and smashed their clay jars, and did God say, “Pipe down! How do you expect to practice my presence in all this racket?” Uh . . . no. The Lord caused the enemy soldiers to turn on each other. He was right there, and everybody knew it.

It had been a while since I’d read 2 Chronicles 5–7, the dedication of the temple. Talk about rowdy! The ark of the covenant was being brought in. In celebration, there were cymbals, harps, lyres, 120 trumpets, other instruments, singers . . . Then there’s King Solomon’s long, out-loud prayer of dedication—with lots of different words, not the Jesus Prayer or some other prescribed ritual repeated for twenty minutes8 to “enter into the great silence of God.” If Solomon was ignorant of the secret of true communication with God, how come fire came down and consumed the sacrifice and the glory of the Lord filled the place? The Lord said outright that He had heard the king’s prayer (2 Chronicles 7:12).

It never would have occurred to me that anything was missing from that kind of prayer if today’s promoters of “the silence” hadn’t given me the idea. They say that silence is “the only thing broad enough and deep enough to hold all of the contradictions and paradoxes of Full Reality and our own reality, too. 99.9% of the known universe is silent, and it is in this space that the force fields of life and compassion dwell and expand. We can live there too!”

Whatever.

That hardly seems to describe a personal relationship between God and His children. Remember, when we are told in Scripture that our primary responsibility is to love God (Matthew 22:37), “we are being told to relate to God in a personal way. Since interpersonal relationships are implemented and carried on by communication, it is indicative of God’s personhood that He speaks, and that our communion with Him is in the form of words (e.g., Scripture, meditation,* praise, prayer) rather than the contemplation of an idol or mindless mysticism.” (* Pages 8-9 explain the Bible’s use of the word meditation.)

At Jericho, Joshua’s people didn’t get into the lotus position and measure their breathing to “find the silence within, thereby finding God.” They simply obeyed the commands God had already given them and marched around the city. There were trumpets and shouting, walls collapsing.

God worked in all kinds of noisy storms in the Bible. God spoke to Job out of the storm (38:1; 40:6). No hint that Job had trouble getting the message. In Mark 4, Jesus was present in the storm. There was conversation with His disciples during it, and he gave orders to it. Acts 27 is the account of Paul’s shipwreck. Did Paul just wring his hands during the turbulence till he could drop anchor in the calm to get back in touch with God? Was God not present and active amid the storm? Of course He was! An angel even found his way to Paul during the storm—and spoke.

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