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Several years ago, the president of a college suggested that students join her in “powering down” for an evening. Although the students agreed, it was with great reluctance that they laid aside their cell phones and entered the chapel. For the next hour, they sat quietly in a service of music and prayer. Afterward, one participant described the experience as “a wonderful opportunity to calm down…a place to just tune out all of the extra noise.”

Sometimes, it’s difficult to escape “extra noise.” The clamor of both our external and internal worlds can be deafening. But when we’re willing to “power down,” we begin to understand the psalmist’s reminder of the necessity to be still so we can know God (Psalm 46:10). In 1 Kings 19, we discover as well that when the prophet Elijah looked for the Lord, he didn’t find Him in the pandemonium of the wind or the earthquake or the fire (vv.9-13). Instead, Elijah heard God’s gentle whisper (v.12).

Extra noise is practically guaranteed during celebrations. When families and friends come together, it’s likely a time of animated conversations, excess food, boisterous laughter, and sweet expressions of love. But when we quietly open our heats, we find that time with God is even sweeter. Like Elijah, we’re more likely to encounter God in the stillness. And sometimes, if we listen, we too will hear that gentle whisper.

What will help you draw close to God in silence and solitude? How can you regularly “power down” both your devices and your busy mind?

It’s in the stillness we’re most likely to hear God’s gentle whisper.

There he went into a cave and spent the night. 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 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 a great 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?” 1 Kings 19:9-13

Written by: Cindy Hess Kasper