I had the wonderful privilege of singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” for a professional NFL football game one season.
Practicing on the field before anyone entered the stadium was one of the most amazing moments I have ever experienced. As I walked down the tunnel and onto the field, there was silence.
The only noise that could be heard from the stands was the maintenance crew doing last minute work in preparation for the 70,000 enthusiastic fans that would soon enter the stadium. I stood on the field and looked around; enjoying the unusual view I had from the 50-yard line.
When it was time to sing, I re-entered the field and saw a much different picture. Hundreds of onlookers stood on the sidelines watching the football team finish their warm ups. The bodyguard that was assigned to me never left my side as she pulled me every which way but loose to be sure that I was not lost in the crowd.
Once we arrived in the middle of the field, people began screaming and waving from the stands. The media yelled, “Smile!” as they took pictures and the band across the field played loudly as fans cheered. The team was introduced as their mascot went roaring in front of me on a four-wheeler and a cannon was ignited after the introductions were made.
It was so crowded on the sidelines that I almost hit the head coach in the side of the head when I tossed my throat spray back to my bodyguard. It was sheer pandemonium. I tried to stay focused, but it was hard to not get caught up in the excitement.
The time finally came for me to sing. After the announcer introduced me, I turned my attention to the field director. I was to follow her directions explicitly and not to begin singing one second before she gave me the cue. A fly-over was scheduled to cross the stadium as soon as I hit the last note and the timing had to be perfect.
The announcer introduced me and the crowd grew silent. I focused intently on the director and waited for my cue. She raised her hand for me to begin singing, so I put the microphone to my mouth. Immediately, the field director jumped off the turf and waved her arm in a “no” position. I lowered the microphone.
As soon as I lowered the microphone, she said, “Go!” I raised it again; only to be told a second time, “Wait!” I lowered the microphone. “Go!” she signaled again. I raised the microphone to my mouth and sang with all my heart. As I hit the last note, I heard the fly-over. As a result of everyone in the control room and aircraft working together, the crowd erupted and everything ended on a wonderful note. I still chuckle each time I watch the video of the beginning of that song.
Silence is a very important part of life. If I had begun singing when the field director instructed me to be silent, the timing of the song and fly-over would have been unsuccessful. Silence is a skill that we must learn in order to have successful communication skills. Unfortunately, it is not always one that comes easy. One of the most powerful places we can experience the rewards of silence is in our prayer time.
For years, I acted as if God were some type of Santa Claus who lived to do things my way and on my timetable. I would get frustrated when he didn’t “come through,” then pray harder so that I would be more effective. Once I realized that God would never be interested in working off my agenda, I stopped talking so much. I began to listen more intently to what He had to say so I could understand HIS agenda.
So, why is it so difficult for us to be quiet during our prayer time? One reason is our inability to be still. We are a culture of instant everything and if God doesn’t speak in two minutes, we are on to the next thing. He will have to catch us during part of our day because we are constantly on the move.
We are also uncomfortable with quiet. We live in the most technologically advanced era in history. There are few evenings spent by the fire reading a book these days. We have grown accustomed to noise and we expect God to fit in with our culture. Unfortunately, God does not always come with a shout, but in a “still, small voice.” We must be listening — quietly — so that we don’t miss him.
Fear can also cause us to speak more than we listen. Perhaps we are afraid of what we will hear God say, so we refuse to be quiet and hear the truth. The problem is we cannot have a relationship with someone when we do all the talking. This is a “one-sided” relationship and we miss out on hearing God’s voice.
So how can we adopt quietness and gentleness into our prayer time?
First, we must relax and clear our minds of all distraction. When we do this, we become calmer and open to hearing the voice of God.
Secondly, find the setting that is right for you. Some of us concentrate better with complete silence, while others find it easier to be still with music or the constant hum of a fan in the background. Whatever sound you need to help you hear God’s voice, be open to the experience.
We must also adjust our attitude toward our “quiet time.” As with any relationship, listening is a skill. We must recognize that when we tell God we are listening, we are showing Him the respect and honor He deserves. Listening to Him communicates that we value what He has to say and that we respect Him as our guide.
Silence during our prayer time allows God to reveal HIS will to us about certain situations. We allow Him to place thoughts in our minds. Then, we can pray to understand what we need to do about the things He reveals to us.
When we are quiet, we can release the fears, anxieties and concerns that we have and hear what He wants to say about our circumstance. When we hear His voice, we hear the TRUTH about the situation causing us concern.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. —Mark 1:35, NIV
A “quiet time” with God is also a time of restoration. We are so busy that we often feel like we can’t take the time to sit and pray — or listen. These are the times that we need a “quiet time” the most. In Mark, we see Jesus seeking a place to be alone and to pray. Why? Because He knew that prayer was His “life line” to His Father. It is the same for us. When we don’t take time to pray, we become irritable, angry and upset. If we continue in this state, we become useless for God’s Kingdom.
Today, set aside some time to spend with your Father. He loves you so much and CRAVES a time to sit and talk with you. Yes, He wants to hear what is on your heart, but He also wants to share what is on His heart. Isn’t that amazing? The same God who made this universe is just waiting to have some time to talk — to YOU!
Silence is golden. Whether it’s football games or faith, it is a must if we are to have victory in our lives.
This article was originally written/published by the author under the title “Hearing from God.”