Gather: Silence

Gather: Silence

This month, lean into silence and listening with a group of friends. Being quiet together can be awkward at times, so here’s a simple structure:

Gather

(2 MINUTES)

Find the quietest place you can, where you know you’ll be uninterrupted, like a chapel or prayer room.

Read

(2 MINUTES)

Appoint a leader to read this short passage, and to set a timer for the following silence:

Leader:

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is hiding in a cave, when God speaks to him in an unexpected way:

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

As we sit in silence with God, let’s allow Him to ask each of us this same question: in this group, in this school year, on this campus: what are you doing here? 

Be Still

(15 MINUTES)

Set a timer for 15 minutes, close your eyes, and simply be silent with God, sitting with this question. This may feel awkward, and that’s okay! The time may be interrupted by laughter or outside noises—when that happens, just turn your attention back to God. You’ll notice all sorts of thoughts running through your mind. Leave them be, and turn in your heart back to God, savoring His presence like a delicious meal.

Go Monastic

(1 DAY)

Commit as a group to spend the next day in silence. Do your normal things—go to class, eat with friends, enjoy the fall weather—but notice all the things that you find yourself wanting to say, and instead, turn to God. Break the silence at dinner with your friends that night!


Scripture Meditation: Psalm 17:6–8


SUPPORTING SCRIPTURE


Reading the Bible is an important part of how we can grow in our faith, but we know many people question why the Bible is not relevant for today. With its old language and confusing references, it can feel irrelevant or disconnected. But these Scripture meditations are meant to help us bridge that disconnect and encounter reasons why the Bible is relevant.

 

It’s Been a Hard Week

So, it’s been a hard week. But it’s one of those weeks where you can’t really explain why it’s been hard. Nothing big has happened. It’s been packed with all of the normal, run-of-the-mill stressors. 

But it just feels more difficult this time around. You’re super tired and running short on patience…and where on earth did this headache come from?

Oftentimes when you’re feeling this way, but can’t quite pinpoint why, it might be a good indicator that you need to slow down. Find quiet opportunities to help you listen. Listen to your body and discover what needs are being overlooked. Listen to your mind and identify what’s hovering below the surface and bringing you stress. And, perhaps most importantly, listen for God’s presence in your life at this moment. Sit with him in silence. Embrace this time of quiet, even if it’s uncomfortable at first. And, when you’re ready, bring your worries to him.

If you need a little breath of fresh air, take a minute to walk through this meditation with us. We’re looking at a couple verses from Psalm 17. Check it out below!

Psalm 17:6–8

6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;

    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.

7 Show me the wonders of your great love,

    you who save by your right hand

    those who take refuge in you from their foes.

8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;

    hide me in the shadow of your wings

Observations from the Text

  • God listens to our needs (v. 6)
  • He hears our prayers (v. 6)
  • God’s love is full of wonders (v. 7)
  • We can take cover under God’s wings (v. 8)

Prayers of Response

Lord, I praise you because even though _________ feels overwhelming to me right now, I can take cover under your wings!

God, I’ve been “calling on you” about _________, but it doesn’t feel like you’ve answered me.

Prayer Requests

I pray that you show me the “wonders of your great love” by _________.

Father, please take _________ (name) under your protective care, and give her/him refuge from _________.

Prayers of Readiness

I pray that you “keep an eye” on _________ (name) as he/she _________ this week.

Today, I will keep my eyes open to experience the “wonders of your great love” because _________.

Reflection:

  1. How often do you feel run down?
  2. When you do, how do you handle that extra-tired feeling?
  3. What’s one thing that keeps you from slowing down and sitting in silence?
  4. How do you think God views all our busyness and hurrying?

 

Scripture meditations are one way to start reading the Bible more. They’re here to help us connect with God in the ordinary, extraordinary, everyday moments of life—visit this page for more!

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™


3 Steps to Enjoy Being Alone Instead of Lonely

If you can remember alll the way back to high school… I spent my first day crying in the bathroom.

Dramatic? You bet. But as a shy, nervous freshman at a new school, it felt like the world was ending. 

Though I’d made the volleyball team a week before, every one of my teammates had a different schedule. Lunch was the bright spot I clung to. There, I’d have teammates to sit with—I’d confirmed it! I wouldn’t have to worry about who to sit with and could at least pretend to know what I was doing…or so I thought.

When the bell rang after geometry, I headed to the lunchroom, and my teammates were nowhere in sight. They’d misjudged their schedules and had a different lunch hour. It was all too much; so, I did the only thing I could think of—I headed to the bathroom and, well, you know the rest.

While we no longer face lunchroom worries, the same fear of being alone still creeps up when we walk into class and realize we don’t yet know anyone in our program, or when we decide to check out a new church off-campus. Or what about those of us who started college with a roommate we had never met before! Sometimes loneliness is experienced even in our own dorm rooms. 

Besides this instance at lunch, I’ve spent many, many, times alone—especially these past few years. Yes, the pandemic is an obvious culprit, but throw in a lack of community, a new job, and a big move… there’ve been way more forced opportunities to be alone than I expected.  

But what if we can take seasons of aloneness, which have great potential to breed loneliness, boredom, and idleness and actually enjoy being alone? How do we realize these times might just be a gift and produce something beautiful and fruitful? 

 

Step 1: Enjoy Being Alone by Listening

Use this time to listen to God, and to what your body and soul desire. God gives us good gifts (James 1:17) and our incredible body—which he created—is one of those gifts. We need to listen to what our bodies want because they often signal our needs—needs God already knows, but that we might be missing. 

When we’re alone, we have the time and ability to listen to our bodies more clearly. Are you hungry and want to slowly make a nourishing breakfast to highlight God’s good gift of food and flavor? Do you want to explore a passion God has placed in you by painting, reading, or exercising between classes? Perhaps you can use an evening to rest or make space for your mental health, instead of heading to the library again.

Being alone offers more space to figure out what fills you up (and less opinions about what those things are) and can make listening to the needs of your specific body and soul clearer. Remember: what you need is okay! 

 

Step 2: Enjoy Being Alone by Learning

Learn and understand who God made you to be and lean into that. Yes, we’re all made in his image (Genesis 1:27), but we each reflect him in different ways, with unique gifts and talents (1 Corinthians 12:28). But do we really know what those gifts and talents are? 

Often, we don’t take the time to be comfortable with who God has made us to be because we have the option to avoid being alone with ourselves. But there’s something to be said for accepting yourself for who God designed you to be— digging into your interests, understanding your dislikes, and investing in people who bring out the best version of you.

For me, this led to starting more activities that made me feel like me—like knitting and running. Learning to love who you are—who God made you to be— makes it easier to accept yourself and lean into your interests and passions. 

God placed those interests and passions inside of you and with them, a unique design and purpose for your life. Who knows where they could lead you— an exciting career pathway, an opportunity to volunteer, another state? Regardless of the unique journey we’re on, knowing and loving ourselves gives us the opportunity to love God better using the talents, gifts, and passions he put inside of us.

 

Step 3: Enjoy Being Alone by Leaning

Lean on Jesus for support. When Jesus was alone in the desert being tempted (Matthew 4:1-11), he leaned on God to strengthen and sustain him, even though he was tired and hungry. In the same way, when we’re in a season of aloneness we can lean on Jesus—although it’s never easy and doesn’t look the same for everyone. 

While it’s helpful for me to stick to a daily routine of morning devotions and afternoon Bible readings, for others it might look like finding an accountability partner, taking a walk in nature, or journaling out prayers. In whatever way we choose to spend time with Jesus, trusting in him and his word will help us stand firm, knowing he is with us in whatever season we’re going through.

I can look back now to being alone on my first day of high school and see how it led me into a season of growth—my confidence and self-reliance improved, I pursued new interests, and I learned to see the value I brought to different situations. In the same way, this current season of aloneness is the start of new growth too. 

Times of aloneness aren’t easy . . . they’re quite hard. But they’re fruitful. And I can only hope God reveals some sort of fruitfulness from them, and that you begin to enjoy being alone, too.

Reflection:

  1. Do you like being alone? Why or why not?
  2. How have times of aloneness in your life shaped who you are today?
  3. What’s an interest, passion, or activity that God’s made you to love?
  4. Is there time in your week (whether it’s 2 hours, or 15 minutes) that you can spend doing that thing — just you and God?


A Prayer for Schedule Overload


SUPPORTING SCRIPTURE


The prayer life of a Christian can sometimes become tiresome, especially if you don’t feel like praying. We hope our simple prayers centered around everyday life will provide some guidance and help you grow in your prayer life.

 

When There’s Too Much Going On

Some of us have commitment issues, but probably not in the way you might think. We OVER-COMMIT! Like those of us who instinctively say “Yes” before we actually stop to think about whatever it is we were just asked. And then later…we regret saying yes, and begin to think of creative ways we can back out of whatever it was we just said yes to. 

We think to ourselves: “I just can’t say no.”

But then we begin to mix in classes and studying on top of already overwhelming personal commitments. Plus, there’s the job we need to keep, the meetings and responsibilities expected by that boss. Add to that trying to find times to do the other stuff we know is important: maintaining relationships, exercising, getting groceries (other than protein bars or ramen). 

Oh. And, then we’re also supposed to make time for hobbies and fun so we don’t get burned out? 

On Sunday night, we look at the week ahead and feel a sense of dread. “Geesh, how will I make it through?!”  

Well, friends! If we’re honest, our team is there with you—often. So, we wrote a prayer for all of us schedule-overloaded people who long for margin and a few minutes to embrace silence.

Join us in reading this paraphrase and taking a much-needed moment of prayer…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message).

A Prayer for Schedule Overload

Spirit who hovered over the waters of chaos, hover over the chaos of my schedule. Burden-carrier, who invites me to bring my struggles to you, help me to discover rhythms of rest and grace. Meet me in the busyness of my overloaded schedule, and provide me opportunities to embrace silence. Help me to worry less about my “to-do” list, and more about being a presence of peace and love to each person I see. And in the future, guide me in saying “no” to things I should say “no” to, and “yes” to things I should say “yes” to. Amen.

Reflection:

  1. Is your schedule overloaded? 
  2. If so, what do you think keeps you saying “yes” to so much?
  3. When did you last take time to reflect or pray in silence?
  4. Do you enjoy silence? Why or why not?

 

Everyone feels at some point that they don’t know how to pray, feel free to visit this page for more everyday prayers to explore how you can connect with God in the ordinary, extraordinary, everyday moments of life!