We live in a world filled with noise. How many of us constantly have the radio or TV on at home? We get into our cars, and there's the radio. We walk outside and hear the noise of vehicles, trains, other people. We're surrounded, even bombarded, with noise constantly. This noise prevents us from hearing the still, small voice of God speaking in our hearts.
Our Lord knew the importance of silence and solitude. After feeding the five thousand, which we heard last week, Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him in a boat so that he could have some time to pray in private. These times of prayer are what fueled Our Lord's ministry, kept him going, regardless of the demands that were placed upon him. He also made prayer a priority before any major decision or event. This time, Our Lord used the opportunity for prayer to grieve over the death of his cousin, John the Baptist. Jesus knew that he could take all his concerns to the Father in prayer, and that he would receive the grace to continue in his earthly ministry.
We need to follow Our Lord's example. We need to bring our concerns, our challenges, our sorrows to the Father in prayer. When we make a major decision, we need to precede it with time of prayer, asking the Father to lead and guide us so that we may do his will. When we have difficulties in our lives, problems that we feel we can't overcome, we need to bring those to prayer as well, trusting that God will provide the grace to face these challenges.
In our noisy culture, however, it is extremely difficult to bring ourselves to prayer. Because of the constant noise in the world today, it is difficult to silence ourselves and prepare ourselves to be open to God and listen to His response. While it may be difficult to enter into silence, it is all the more important, as the first reading today shows.
When Elijah, long considered Israel's greatest prophet, reached Mount Horeb, he sought to speak with God. I think when many of us picture God speaking, we imagine something like the movie “The Ten Commandments.” We imagine that God has a deep, booming voice that shakes the rocks and causes earthquakes. When speaking with Elijah, however, God doesn't speak that way. He doesn't speak in a great wind, or an earthquake, or even in fire, but in a tiny whispering sound.
This is how God the Father speaks to us today. He doesn't yell at us, he doesn't force us to hear him. Instead, he whispers to us. He speaks softly in our hearts, inviting us to enter into silence and prayer so that we can hear his voice. God does answer our prayers, he does speak to us, but he does it so softly that the noise of the world can easily drown it out.
This is why we must allow for periods of silence in our lives. Every day, we must take time to turn off the TV or radio, get away from the noise of the world and listen to God. We need to spend time in prayer, bringing the challenges of our lives, the struggles we're facing, the sorrows and joys of daily life to God. We also need to spend time silently waiting for an answer. It may not come right away, and it may not even be during times of prayer, but we need to have the periods of silence to open our hearts to God, and prepare them to follow his will.
How do we find this time for silence? It's often very difficult to do, but is so important for our spiritual well-being. One option is to schedule time during the day to spend in a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. The church is always open throughout the day, so anyone can stop in and spend time before Our Lord in the Tabernacle. I realize that it is often impossible to actually spend an hour in adoration, but I wouldn't be discouraged if you can't do one hour. Even if you only can spend fifteen minutes in front of Our Lord in silent prayer, the graces that we receive from simply stopping by are immeasurable. Our Lord is here in the church, waiting for us to spend time with him. May we have the faith to spend time with Our Lord in silence.