Most effective intercessors do pray aloud in their private prayer. Hearing themselves helps them stay on track and maintain their focus. (Hearing yourself speak to someone you cannot see may be a bit intimidating to you at first, but in a few days you will grow accustomed to it.) Jesus and many others in Scripture prayed aloud when they prayed alone, for in some cases their prayers were heard and recorded for us to read today. Praying silently It’s interesting that people generally fall into two categories: those who find it hard to pray aloud, and those who never seem to find the value of quietness in prayer. Many of us are so concerned about what we are going to say to God that we forget that a very important feature of our prayer relationship with the Father involves quietness in His presence.
- Ecclesiastes 3:7. What did King Solomon say there was a special time for?
- Habakkuk 2:20. How are we to show our reverence for the Lord?
- Isaiah 41:1. How does God ask us to respond to Him?
- 1 Kings 19:11–13. How did God speak to the prophet Elijah? God did not speak to His prophet in the noise of the wind, the earthquake or the fire. We too must learn to discern His voice in the place of stillness and reverence.
Soren Kierkegaard, a nineteenth-century Danish Christian, says this about silence before God: “If I were a physician, and I were allowed to prescribe one remedy for all the ills of the world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the Word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, how could one hear it with so much noise? Therefore, create silence!”
Silence in prayer is a time for us to listen.
I (Alice) often say, “God is not a chatterbox.” And neither should we be “chatterboxes” in
His presence. Our quietness before the Lord serves several purposes—not the least of which is reverence. If you were to be standing in the Oval Office at the White House today before the president of the United States, I dare say you would not be endlessly chattering. No, of course not. You would be respectfully quiet in his presence.
We live in a busy world. Busyness is often one of our sins. When you set aside time to commune with God in prayer, make sure that you don’t assume it’s a time for a monologue (yours!), but rather a time for dialogue.
Author Evelyn Christensen says concerning her prayer times, “Then in silence I listen to my God, who in love has chosen to reveal His wisdom, His will and Himself to me.”
Have you had the experience of speaking with someone who talks so much you can hardly get a word in edgewise? God has, too! Many of us tend to do all the talking when we dial God’s number in prayer. Prayer time is often little more than a time to unload our feelings. We seem to forget that our heavenly Father is a person with feelings of His own. He wants to speak to us as well as hear from us.
Our good friend Ralph Neighbor, recognized authority on cell group ministry, prefers the term “listening room” to the term “quiet time.” Why? He explains that quiet time tends to imply a focus on oneself. Listening room, however, implies hearing God, not just speaking to Him. In the listening room we ask God how we can meet the needs of others. Cessationists believe that when the canon of Scripture was completed, God stopped speaking to man directly. Essentially they believe that God wrote a bestseller and retired! We too are cessationists. Not that we believe God has stopped speaking, however. No, not that at all. We simply believe that many of us have ceased listening! Seven times in the Book of Revelation God says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, and 22) We need to stop talking so much and start listening!
It would be impossible to know who in the Bible prayed silently and how much time they spent doing, because NO ONE could hear and record it.
The Apostle Paul did encourage us to pray without ceasing; so one might assume that most of that prayer would be silent—perhaps he meant something more like living in a spirit of prayer and communion with the Father.
Another reason for our quietness before God in prayer is to mediate on Him, on what He is saying or what He has said in His Word. You might choose to meditate on one aspect of God’s character—His love, for example.
How does His love apply to your life? How have you benefited personally from God’s love? Or you may choose to meditate on a Scripture portion that has touched your life. How has each phrase in that passage changed you?
Submission to the will of God is another reason we should be quiet in His presence. Prayer is both how we discover the will of God and how we submit to it. We should always approach God with a submissive heart. Jesus did this. Notice how the writer of Hebrews describes Jesus’ submission in prayer: During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
—Hebrews 5:7 From this passage we learn that Jesus was passionate in prayer, not passive. He prayed “with loud cries and tears.” We also see that He prayed from a place of total submission to the Father. For these reasons, He was heard! Alone with God In his book The Work God Blesses, Oswald J. Smith writes: Get alone with God. Be quiet long enough for Him to talk. Pray until you are prayed through and prayed out, until you have prayed about every problem. Then when God has settled your problems, let Him give you the new vision. Stay in His presence until you can see things through His eyes, until you can see what He wants you to see. He will speak to you about hindrances and obstacles that you never dreamt existed. He will show you what the problem is if you wait long enough. Therefore, don’t be impatient at the delay, but pray continuously. Delay is not denial.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer is not simply getting things from God, that is the most initial form of prayer; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God.” In prayer we connect, we communicate and we commune with the living God. The awesome privilege of prayer How difficult it would be to be unable to communicate with the person who is closest to you. Can you imagine being married to someone with whom you had no way to communicate? How would you tell that person you loved him or her? How would you communicate your needs? Your feelings? Your joys and sorrows? Christ is our Bridegroom! He is the lover of our souls, the One who longs for an intimate relationship with us. Yet so often our communication skills with Him are sadly lacking. In these last few lessons you have learned how to communicate with God through prayer. Now, as the Nike commercial says, “Just do it!” Your time with God You don’t think you have enough time to pray? You have all the time there is . . . twenty-four hours per day. It’s really not about time, but about choices, isn’t it? Give God your best time, a time when you are alert and alive! Find the best place and make “pre-prayer-ation” to meet with the Almighty. No doubt you have learned that effective intercession doesn’t just happen. The enemy will throw everything (including the proverbial kitchen sink) at you to keep you from meeting with God. It simply costs him too much when you do pray! Make it more than a “quiet time;” make it a “listening room!” Father, I hunger and thirst for You. I long to know You in a more intimate way. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. Strengthen me in my inner man so I can honor You in the prayer closet. Defend me against the devil and his demons. I don’t want to be distracted from the best I can offer to You, O Lord. Thank You for helping me in my weakness. You are a wonderful Lord and Savior. I love You, Jesus. For Christ’s sake I pray, amen. Isn’t God good!?