There are truths that can never be learned except in the
noise and confusion of the marketplace or in the tough
brutality of combat. The tumult and the shouting teach
their own rough lessons…

But there is another school where the soul must go to
learn its best eternal lessons. It is the school of silence.
“Be still and know,” said the psalmist, and there is a
profound philosophy there, of universal application.

Prayer among evangelical Christians is always in danger
of degenerating into a glorified gold rush. Almost every
book on prayer deals with the “get” element mainly.

How to get things we want from God occupies most of
the space. Now, we gladly admit that we may ask for
and receive specific gifts and benefits in answer to
prayer, but we must never forget that the highest kind of
prayer is never the making of requests.

Prayer at its holiest moment is entering into God to a place
of such blessed union as makes miracles seem tame and
remarkable answers to prayer appear something very far
short of wonderful by comparison.

Holy men of soberer and quieter times than ours knew
well the power of silence. David said, “I was dumb with
silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my
sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me; while
I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue.”

There is a tip here for God’s modern prophets. The heart
seldom gets hot while the mouth is open. A closed
mouth before God and a silent heart are indispensable
for the reception of certain kinds of truth. No man is
qualified to speak who has not first listened.

It might well be a wonderful revelation to some Christians
if they were to get completely quiet for a short time, long
enough, let us say, to get acquainted with their own
souls, and to listen in the silence for the deep voice of
the Eternal God. The experience, if repeated often
enough would do more to cure our ulcers than all the
pills that ever rolled across a desk.


Courtroom Drama, Daytime TV, and Good Deity

2 Samuel 16:1–17:29; 2 Peter 2:1–11; Psalm 143:1–12
I remember old television courtroom episodes where people beg for forgiveness from a cynical judge when they should seek forgiveness from the person they’ve wronged. Usually these shows take the irony to the next level: The judge shows less mercy to those who beg, viewing their actions as further demonstration of their weak character. Thankfully, God is not this kind of judge, though we often falsely characterize Him that way.

At the beginning of Psa 143, the psalmist remarks, “O Yahweh, hear my prayer; listen to my supplications. In your faithfulness answer me” (Psa 143:1). He then adds, “And do not enter into judgment with your servant, because no one alive is righteous before you” (Psa 143:2). The psalmist’s prayers are well-spoken, but are they honest? The psalmist goes on, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me onto the level ground” (Psa 143:10). This line demonstrates that he is not spouting rhetoric; he is living in reality.

We’re often determined to convince God to see things our way. Instead, we should be determined to see things His way. God is not a judge in a courtroom drama. Furthermore, His Son has already paid the price for our sins—we have been pardoned through Jesus’ intercession. The only requirement on our part is to enter into a relationship with Him.

We cannot justify our actions, for it is only by God’s goodness that we are able to do good, and it’s only out of severe disobedience and ungratefulness that we act poorly. We need to change our perceptions so that our conversations with God become holistic. We should not just ask; we must act. We should not just speak; we must listen. We should not just petition; we must enter into an honest relationship with God.
In what ways do you falsely characterize God? – John D. Barry