Recently I received a phone call from a member of a Youth Fellowship. He said that his fellowship would like to organize a silent retreat, and they were asking me to be the speaker. I almost could not believe my ears and I remember repeatedly asking him, “Excuse me, what kind of retreat would you guys like to have?” I thought I had heard it wrong and so I just wanted to clarify.
He said assuredly that they would like to have a silent retreat. Now this is remarkably unusual as we never think that young people nowadays would like to have anything to do with a silent and seemingly boring retreat. I thought retreat for young people should be fun, full of entertainment, and perhaps just a touch of the Bible and prayer would be good enough. So I asked this person who contacted me the reason for organizing a silent retreat. He replied that it is to allow the fellowship members to have an opportunity to experience God in a different way. I found this fellowship very special.
Indeed there are many ways to experience God. Waiting on God silently is one of the ways. This method is not so highly esteemed in the Methodist circle because our tradition is comparatively more focused on knowing the Word of God and doing social justice. Nonetheless, it is a good practice. As Christians, we need to learn to quiet ourselves to wait on God, to internalize the Word of God that we learn and study so that it will make an impact in our lives. Often, we make haste in everything that we do, including our devotional time and prayer time. It is indeed important to allow ourselves time to read, meditate, and soak in God’s word frequently.
One of the simplest ways to wait on God silently is to think of a verse or a phrase or a word of the Bible. As we wait, we also keep repeating the word or the phrase, both in our minds and in our hearts. If we have difficulty focusing, we can use our mouths to repeat the phrase or the word. This can help us to focus our thoughts and to wait on God silently. The posture for waiting on God silently could be sitting, kneeling, standing, or even pacing around. I personally like the posture of pacing around because that helps me to focus better. We can add this period of waiting on God every time we finish our devotional time, maybe an extra 5 minutes to start off with. Gradually, as we wait on God silently, we begin to feel the heartbeat of God. We will hear His voice speaking to us better. And the end result is that we will choose to do what God wants us to do, rather than what our heart desires us to be.