No Dead Air in Worship?
Our desire of ‘no dead air’ has changed our worship. We want the program to be fast, efficient and keep our attention. We are a generation that was raised on two minute sound bites. Sesame Street was brilliant at it!
Our churches have slowly evolved to exclude silence as well. Even the tiny breaks of silence while we waited for the next person to come up to the front for Scripture reading or announcements or a song have been replaced with people waiting ‘in the wings’ so that no time is ‘wasted’, waiting in silence.
There was a time when silence and reflection was part of a church worship experience. There was time for meditation on a Scripture passage, time for silent prayer, time to allow God to speak. That’s becoming a rarity. I think it’s mostly because we really don’t know how to use silence.
I’m sure you can identify with me when I say how frustrating it is when there is silence during times of prayer. In fact, it happens many times when I am in small groups and prayer meetings. When the leader asks for ‘two or three to pray and then he’ll close’, I will often jump in and pray if no one else does if there are more than 30 seconds of silence.
I’m uncomfortable with silence. And so I pray – more to remove the silence than that I have anything particular I need to say to God at that moment – especially in public prayer. I assure myself that it is because I am comfortable with praying out loud in public and I don’t want others to feel uncomfortable or pressured into having to pray because of the oppressive weight silence seems to bring to the group.
But can our propensity to fill every waking moment with sound and activity mitigate against our ability to find a place of worship within the silence? Does our ‘noise’ interfere with something God desires for us that can only be found within silence? Can our worship include inactivity, solitude, quietness, reflection, meditation, listening?
More than anything else, silence gives us the chance to hear God. Remember Elijah being instructed to go stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord (1 Kings 19:11-13)? From this passage we begin to understand, intellectually at least, the importance of silence in hearing the Lord’s voice. Elijah looked for the Lord in the power of the storm, in the might of the earthquake and in the consuming heat of the fire. But God was not in these powerful forces. He came in a whisper, a breath barely perceivable – a still, small voice.
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