Spiritual Silence in the
Experience of Friends (Quakers)
by Bill Samuel
Originally published March 8, 2001 at Suite101.com
(Also available in Portuguese translation)
Be still and know that I am God.
In the inward quietness and withdrawal of the mind, the witness of God arises in the heart, and the light of Christ so shines that the soul becomes aware of its own condition.
Robert Barclay in his Apology for the True Christian Divinity
Friends (Quakers) are rightly known for their use of silence. I have previously written on Friends (Quaker) Worship. In this article, I want to explore the spiritual use of silence in an even broader context than corporate worship.
The essence of the value of silence, for Quakers as well as for monastics and others, is to free ourselves from influences other than from God. Silence, then, can open ourselves to God and let us truly listen to the Living Christ.
In the spiritual silence in which we have so opened ourselves, we can see our own condition much more clearly. This can be a very humbling experience, for we see our own sinfulness, how we fall short. Seeing our condition, we become acutely aware of our need for God to redeem us.
In the stillness, we can also become much more aware of the depth of God’s love for us. We do not empty our minds because we value emptiness, but rather so they can be filled with the things of the Spirit. We allow God to make us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15).
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