Reclaiming Silence


“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

– 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NLT)

It was not in the fierce windstorm, or the booming earthquake, or the fire.   God’s voice was in a gentle whisper.

In a culture fascinated with noise, through constant entertainment and pixelated screens, and general busyness the ability to hear the whisper of God is lost.

Silence in a noisy world is terrifying. It becomes a lingering and painful awkwardness like an addict going through detox.  We may very well be addicted to noise. Silence is the cultural detox that separates us from a consumerist reality so distant from that which God seemingly intends.

We need to reclaim silence.  Spiritual practices are a place to start.

Our spiritual practices which involve silence are essential for our wholistic spirituality.  They facilitate the opportunity to hear the divine whisper of God.  A whisper which invites us into the grand call of God.

Take some time to be silent.  Pray.  Write.  Dream.  Nap.  Contemplate.

I love the words of Mother Teresa “ Silence leads to prayer.  Prayer leads to faith.  Faith leads to service.  Service leads to peace.”


  • When in silence, pay attention to your distractions.  When you can remember, invite God back into the space with the simple words “God, this is your time” or “I belong to you.” (Taken from Mark Yaconelli’s wonderful book “Down Time”)


  • Pay attention to how you feel, or think when you are in the midst of silence in a regular day.  Where does silence find you?  Do you avoid or embrace it?

(I recently worked through “Down Time” by Mark Yaconelli, a book I would highly recommend to youth pastors everywhere.  Much of what I read there inspired this post.  In tune with this post, I am excited to break open April Yamasaki’s book “Sacred Pauses.”  I suggest you check it out too.  Check back soon, as I will be interviewing April about her book later this month.)


  1. Robert Martin · February 5, 2013

    This is something I try to do on occasion on my commutes. I have an hour plus drive one way to and from work. And sometimes, I turn off the radio, etc., and just drive in silence. It’s a little scary, though… the thoughts that wander into my head that I need to turn over to God… and the thoughts that it seems God gives me to seriously ponder are even scarier.

    • Chris Lenshyn · February 5, 2013

      Amen Brother.

      Silence drives me nuts for that very reason. Yet it is that very reason I need silence. Keep on keepin on!

  2. June Mears Driedger · February 5, 2013

    Thanks Chris for this! Many years ago my husband and I volunteered for four months at a contemplative retreat center (The Hermitage, in Michigan) where silence really soaked into me. Deep into my bones kind of soaking.

    Now I can tell when I need a silent retreat–I have an inner agitation that only prayerful silence can calm.

    My copy of April’s book arrive yesterday and I am eager to jump in–my mechanical pencil is ready for underlining!

    • Chris Lenshyn · February 5, 2013

      4 months! Wow. That must have been quite the experience. I am just coming off a youth retreat where we did some experiments in silence and some barely lasted 5 minutes… myself included. 😉

      The call to silence is stronger than many of us may think…

  3. Pingback: Reclaiming Silence | Menno Nerds

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