Culture At Large

Quaker Silence

Chris Salzman

There is a lot to be said for silence. Read part of this post from gathering in light:

If you ever get the chance to sit in on a silent Quaker meeting, take the opportunity. It’s not the kind of experience you’ll get just anywhere. Yes, it’s intense. Yes, it’s likely to be extremely difficult to “center down” and focus for an hour, but it’d still be a great exercise in listening. ...When Quakers meet for worship they reserve a time during the service for complete silence; this silence is a commitment as a community to allowing God space in our worship. But it is rarely ever a “silent worship.” Rather, in worship Quakers listen for the Holy Spirit to move them to action. That is, if the Spirit of God moves you to share/preach/sing, then listening to God involves acting on what was heard. In this way, the practice of silence for Quakers only begins with listening, but true silence always leads to an action.

I like this next bit the best:

While at first glance this idea of a silent worship service may seem a bit overly simplistic, or even worse “boring,” but I challenge you to suggest to your church service planner to have 10 minutes of silence this week and see how it goes. And by silence, I mean absolute and complete silence, no soft piano playing in the background or guitar lazily strumming its strings, no worship leader talking about how we’re currently being silent before the Lord; no, I mean pure unadulterated quiet. Now I think this is still radical. It was radical 400 years ago, and it may be, in world where distraction is a necessary drug, even more radical today. Doesn’t just the idea of being quiet for so long kind of freak us out?!

I went through a prayerful meditation phase (in fact, due to this post, I'm going to try it again). I would just sit there and respond as the Spirit told me things. Those times were amazing because they were easily some of the best prayer times of my life, were great stress reducer and I found returning to the bustle of life much more tolerable. Turns out that the Quaker's not only already knew that, but they avidly practice it together.

Have any of you been in a worship service where there was an actual extended time (at least 5 minutes) of silence? Anyone been to one of these Quaker meetings? Other thoughts?

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Faith, Worship