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To Seek the Quiet

It’s 11:09 p.m. Thursday night. Finally all is quiet, except for some gurgling from my refrigerator and the quiet whirr of the ceiling fan. After a day filled with trilling phones, competing music from three different offices, and chattering voices over the roar of air conditioning, my ears are still ringing. But now, I can slow down. I can sit in silence. I can think.

We live in a world filled with noise—and distraction. It’s a rare moment we’re allowed to steal away to somewhere quiet where our minds can rest and be refreshed. In fact, our bodies even fight it. Since constant stimulation is as close as a flip of a radio knob or buttons on a remote or cell phone, many of us give in to the temptation to keep our minds buzzing and our thoughts tightly-wound.

It’s not uncommon to look to your left and right at an intersection and see your neighbors with cell phones glued to their ears. As soon as they step into their cars, the silence compels them to grab the phone and “make use” of the time—although the calls are actually used to “pass the time.” I’m so guilty of this too.

We’re a people who avoid silence. Consequently, many of us do not think anymore. We react, worry or fantasize, but rarely do we think and process the way our minds were designed to.

Maybe that’s why we have a hard time getting quiet before the Lord and learning to seek after His presence. And maybe the reason we can’t remember Scripture well is because we breeze through one chapter on our way to the bed (like I do) instead of sitting and analyzing and thinking about what we just read. It takes discipline and denying the flesh, but learning to seek the quiet is key to growing in God.

Five times it’s recorded in the book of Mark that Jesus took His disciples away from the crowds to some place quiet. It was a time of rejuvenation, of personal reflection, and growth. The Bible also details other benefits of quiet times: to overcome temptation (Mark 14:32 -38); for strength (Ephesians 6:10 -20); and for a sense of peace (Philippians 4:6-9).

The stillness of the quiet is exactly where we will feel the gentle tug of God’s presence calling us to commune with Him, to grow in Him, to be refreshed by Him. That time of communion is more satisfying than any counterfeit we distract our brains with.

In The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence we learn how make a habit of thinking on God and talking to him in your mind – instead of letting it wander aimlessly. Brother Lawrence disciplined his mind to do this whenever he could – whether he was washing the dishes or in a concentrated prayer time.

I once edited an article written by a man whose dad was dying of cancer in a hospital. He talked about how it was too difficult to pray formally during those times – but that prayer became breath to him. Prayer was constant and always overturning in his mind – it became as second nature as breathing to him. I think this is what Brother Lawrence had in mind. May we seek to discipline our minds this way in the absence of tragedy with intentional times of quiet so when less than ideal times come, we have a rich well from which to draw.
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Cara Davis is a writer, editor and the former editorial director for Relevant Media Group. During the past year she has been on a journey of finding a renewed focus for her faith and her life.