I was in the car yesterday evening taking my son to his guitar lesson. He turned the radio on and switched between channels, trying to find something he liked. We had the usual conversation about how much modern popular music is derivative and not as good as the music of 40 years ago. It generally isn’t! But I had to ask him to turn the radio off. I was finding it so disturbing of my spiritual peace.
I don’t mean that it was presenting horrible lyrics, indeed I can’t remember what was on. But the music was affecting me at some inner level of my heart that was preventing me finding stillness in prayer. I find this often. There is a time when I listen to great popular music, but it is not usually compatible with prayer. Prayer usually requires an inner stillness. We can pray in desperate circumstances, but if we choose to place ourselves in the middle of noise then we should not be surprised that our experience of prayer suffers.
I drove into town this morning. After I had parked my car I walked through a department store and there was music playing in the background. I’m having a coffee now, in a bookstore, and there is loud and intrusive music playing. It is hard to be still. It is hard to pray.
Many of us choose to live our lives in a bubble of such noise, wearing headphones that pour music into our ears 24/7. This is not a post criticising music in general, or popular music in particular. But I do want to suggest that if we do not provide stillness and quiet in our lives then we will find it hard to pray. And if we find it hard to pray we will find it hard to experience the presence of God. And without God we will wonder what it means to be a Christian.
That might sound rather dramatic. But the Scriptures teach us that God speaks with a still, small voice. The Scriptures teach us that we must enter the inner temple of the heart and meet God there in silence. If we choose to avoid silence then we will not hear the voice, or meet the divine presence. If we choose to distract ourselves by constant noise then we will not address the serious and significant matters of seeking and serving God.
Be still and know that I am God. Many of us do not know how to be still and fear stillness so much that we try to drown it out. But it is only in stillness that we meet God. Let me encourage you to find stillness today and every day and seek God in interior silence.
The music here is getting too much. I’m leaving now. The desire for God calls me into silence.