My Struggle with Silence

Photo © Michael Moran/Otto

Photo © Michael Moran/Otto

I am charismatic, in the theological sense of the word, so I think it goes without saying that I like speaking in tongues. Somehow this gives me peace and directs my thoughts to God and often I receive revelations as I go off in this mysterious language. Tongues is very much a part of my devotions as well as my daily life. Some of my most powerful spiritual experiences the past year were when I worked at a grocery store and I would mutter in tongues under my breath while putting the produce out.

There are times, though, where I need to not speak in tongues and embrace silence. Silence can be a bit more challenging.

As soon as I start praying in tongues, I find myself feeling lighter and more ‘spiritual’. Yet silence confronts me in my humanity; to reach out for God in this state is difficult. I have all sorts of thoughts flooding in, often completely random—like scenes from horror movies I watched 5-10 years ago or I start thinking about my friend Tori’s dog, Stella. Perhaps that is why this is a discipline I so desperately need. Thank God I’m a Quaker.

I think from time to time I may use tongues to fill up my spirituality quota for the day, and though I may receive revelations from God as I speak in tongues, it may also be my way of drowning out the voice of God. I am sure it edifies my spirit but the truth is my escapist tendencies creep their way it into my life with the Spirit. I am a bit scared that I may pray in known and unknown languages so often in order to avoid silence.

In silence, I direct myself to God and intentionally wait on him, seeking dialogue and guidance. In silence, I put down my ambitions and say, “you do you, God”, and I slowly receive things to intercede about or things to reflect on or verses to dwell on or words to hold on to. Or I just find stillness and peace; a presence that centers me.

In silence, I get frustrated, bored, and annoyed—but also, I grow in patience, finding greater glory in the small things, sensing and experiencing Christ’s presence even more fully. I can really hate this silence thing, but, my God, it is a gift.

5 thoughts on “My Struggle with Silence

  1. When I first started attending meeting for worship it took some concentration to center in whereas I could get to the same place quicker by speaking in tongues and it was definitely easier outside of meeting to speak in tongues to myself and tune in to the Spirit. Now both of them are about the same. I do find that when God wants to correct me he doesn’t care what I’m doing. He just interrupts me like I do with my children when they need correction..

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  2. I find silence difficult, too..though I’m coming to appreciate it more now that I realize that silence is never really completely silent…there’s always some sound being made somewhere, and God can speak to us through that, if we will listen. But I do find it easier to pray/meditate with music in the background (preferably instrumental or in some other language so i don’t get lost in the words).

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