Challenge: The Discipline of Outward Silence

Our goal is to practice outward silence in long intervals (days not hours).

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19

This month’s “challenge” is a little different than others. The goal is not to be silent for a month. But to experiment with silence as a tool of reflection, worship and reverence. The hope is that you can spend some serious time in outward silence this month. Here are a couple of exercises that some of us have thought up. Check them out and feel free to contribute your own ideas.

Days of Silence

Don’t say anything. For the Whole Day. If you must speak, you must write down every word spoken in a journal of words.

One rationale:

Matt 12:33-37 “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. (34) “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. (35) “The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil. (36) “And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. (37) “For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”

We want to capture those words in our mind and examine them more intently. One reason for silence is to give more thought to our words and consider what they bring forth from the depth of our heart.

One caveat to that should be an introductory phrase you use to tell people that you are in a discipline of silence. Usually I say something like: “I’m interested in talking with you but I am participating in a discipline of silence today.” You can also print this up on business cards so that you do not have to speak.

Do not give your opinion for one month

Words are the laziest means of answering a question. I think we sometimes fall into a fear that if we do not respond with words we are not helping the situation, but in retrospect we see how it is the lives of those around us much more than their words that influence us.

This is the first challenge initiated by a female. So I’m pretty excited to try this and see where my mind goes. Thanks Allison for contributing.

Devotional Thought

What is the discipline of outward silence?

Many people think silence is the absence of something, but it is not. It is the presence of something greater than the words at the moment can contain. Audiences are silent as they sit enthralled by a movie.  We are ‘dumbstruck’ not when we have nothing to say, but when we encounter something about which speaking is insufficient.

The reason that we label this outward silence is because it is not intended to be inward silence at all. Often in a moment of being ‘dumbstruck’ our minds are racing. While we sit watching movies or in awe of a beautiful sight our minds (and senses) are pulsing with activity. This discipline is often filled with words and thoughts and expressions; but by not releasing them we experience something much more powerful  than if we had tried to contain each thought in the words that came to us in that particular moment.

The discipline of silence is related to many other spiritual values (Humility, Wisdom, Proper Speech, Submission, Solitude, Simplicity, Spirituality) and we will try to touch on these throughout the month. This email centers around the idea of reflection.  Luke 6:45 says, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” This is a month where we can intentionally look at the words we would say and examine them so as to examine our heart.

Please leave comments about your thoughts on the discipline of outward silence. How weird is it to say, “let’s get a conversation going about silence”?  I’m looking forward to the month.

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