Does your life ever feel noisy? Mine sure does. My phone is constantly making crazy noises, I listen to music in my car and at my desk, I turn the TV on when I get home, and I can often be found talking to myself when I’m alone (true confessions are good for the soul, right?). Maybe you don’t have that much actual noise in your life, but the fact of the matter is, there’s a lot of noise in our lives. Maybe it’s your kids, your calendar, your husband, or the little voice inside your head that continues to tell you that you don’t quite measure up. It looks a little bit different for each of us, but most of us have nearly constant noise in our daily lives.
Over the 4th of July, I spent the weekend in a cabin in North Carolina with some of my family. There was no cell phone reception, no Internet, and no TV. For the first few hours, it’s like I had no clue what to do. I went on several walks, fished (and caught 3 trout!), finished a puzzle with my cousin, and read a whole book.
It was SO refreshing.
I can’t help but look back on those few days and see how the Lord spoke so clearly to my heart in the solitude. As I was praying through a few things, the Lord brought to mind so many scriptures that were relevant, and I could hear them because I stopped talking, and I wasn’t distracted by all of the noise. I could hear God’s voice so much more clearly because there was nothing to compete with.
“One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are so accustomed to relying on words to manage and control others. If we are silent, who will take control? God will take control, but we will never let him take control until we trust him. Silence is intimately related to trust.” -Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline.
Silence and solitude are two things that we just don’t get a lot of in our day and age. Our lives are constantly busy, and even when we sit down and read the Bible, we’re easily interrupted or distracted. We lack the margin in our lives that we so desperately need. Scripture tells us that silence and solitude are a critical part of spiritual disciplines that we should be engaging in on a regular basis. Jesus even modeled it for us on many occasions when he went away by himself to pray (Luke 5:15-16; Matthew 14:23; Mark 14:32-42).
Here are five ways to cut the noise out of your life:
- Let your quiet time with the Lord be undistracted. Even if it’s just a few minutes, turn your phone off or leave it in another room. Ask your spouse to watch the kids for a few minutes, or take advantage of naptime. Find a place that you can daily be still and listen for the Lord’s voice. (Psalm 46:10; Matthew 6:6)
- Learn to listen. Listening isn’t easy for everyone, but it is something that can be learned and cultivated. Ask the Lord to speak as you’re digging into scripture, and then listen for his voice. As you interact with others, let your words (when you choose to use them) be ones that breathe life into other people, but also learn when to just be silent. (James 1:19)
- Consider taking a spiritual retreat. Whether it’s a few hours, a day, or several days, take some time to stop talking and to listen. Get our your journal and Bible, and let the Lord speak.
- Turn off the noise. When you’re in the car, turn off the music, podcast, or the radio. Spend some time praying and asking the Lord to speak. Sometimes, we just need some quiet to gather our thoughts.
- Take advantage of small moments of solitude. Don’t miss out on the little moments because you’re waiting for a big chunk of time to magically appear in your schedule! (Colossians 3:15-17)
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
When was the last time you heard the Lord speak clearly into your life? If it has been awhile, do you think it could have anything to do with the amount of noise in your life?
What’s competing with you being able to hear God’s voice?
What are some ways that you can find solitude and cut some of the noise out of your life?
Mary Margaret is an Event Project Coordinator on the Church Education Ministry team at LifeWay. She works alongside Chris Adams and coordinates training events for women’s ministry leaders like YOU Lead and the Women’s Ministry Forum. Mary Margaret has served several churches in the area of Girls Ministry and she recently completed a Master of Arts in Christian Education at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In her spare time, she writes for Story of My Life – her personal blog.