Worship in Silence


So I was listening to some music this morning while thinking about worship. I was trying to think up some new ideas for the ministry, listening for some new music, I just trying to spend some time with God before I started my day. A thought crossed my mind that hadn’t crossed it for a while.

As a worship leader/planner, I am supposed to get our Sunday morning worship put together. I have to get the band ready. I have to get the projection put together. Basically I have to account for each moment and everything that goes into it for the whole worship service. Then I have to lead people through it. But what about the silence? Should there be silence? Should we intentionally give a moment of silence in worship?

I am reminded of the story of Elijah on Mount Horeb. “He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;¬†and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.” (1 Kings 19:11-12 NRSV). Instead of “sheer silence” another translation says “still small voice” (NKJV). Either way, God wasn’t where Elijah expected Him to be. He wasn’t within all the loud, disastrous events taking place. But Elijah heard/found God in the silence.

What does that tell us for our worship? In our worship styles today, especially contemporary worship, there isn’t much room for silence. We sing songs, give announcements, and hear a message, but we never give a moment of silence. We become to preoccupied to fill all the space with sound, or speaking, or music. We begin to take away an experience people can have to encounter God. I’m not saying that silence is the only way to encounter Him. There are certainly multiple examples in the Bible where God was very loud, not silent. But it is just as important to facilitate the times when God wants to speak through the stillness. Worship is all about Him anyway, so why should we fight what He wants from us.

If you aren’t a worship leader, or involved in worship planning at your church, you can learn a lesson from this as well. Spend some time with God in silence. Turn off the TV, computer, phone, radio, or whatever else, close your eyes and listen. Silence is a good way to help us be in tune with God. If there is nothing to distract us, we can focus solely on God rather than the song that just came on the radio.

Silence is a good thing. Embrace it, Cherish it. Take moments to just be in it, and allow yourself to focus solely on God.

I’m posting a piano piece here called 4’33” by John Cage. If you haven’t heard it before, I suggest that before you hit play, you make sure that you sit in silence and that nothing will bother you during this performance.