Spiritual Practice


Jim and Amy Still-Pepper

Take a moment to think about all the sounds you heard yesterday. Maybe the day started with an alarm and ended with your favorite song. Some of the noise was pleasant; some was obnoxious. You might have been unaware of much of it. Yet, all of it affected you.

The prophet Elijah had a lot of noise in his life too. But wanting to hear God’s voice, he discovered that he had to listen to the quietness. (Read 1 Kings 19:11-12.) I challenge you to do the same. Here are “Q-TIPs” that can help you listen to the quiet.

Q-uiet. Stop. Listen. Be still.

T-urn off the outside. Turn off your phone, music, computer. Shut the door.

I-nside. Slow down your thoughts. Focus your attention on this moment.

P-ause. Wait. Listening requires time. Reading verses from the Bible might help.



Experiment 1

For five minutes, sit in silence. Then reflect on or journal responses to these questions:

  • Was it easier to be quiet at the beginning, middle, or end of this time?
  • Which part was most difficult? (Explain.)
  • What were you doing during the silence?
  • Do you usually like silence? (Explain.)
  • In what ways can silence be good?
  • When can silence be negative?
  • Do you need more or less silence in your life? (Explain.)
  • What did you hear in the silence?

If you were not able to be silent for five minutes or if you were silent longer, that’s OK. What’s important isn’t the length of time, but giving God space to speak.


Experiment 2

Try another five minutes of silence. Before you begin, pick a scripture—one verse or several—to read over and over. You might read Psalm 46:10, Ecclesiastes 3:7b, or a verse or passage from Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 19. During the silence, try to focus on what you are reading. Don’t journal; just read and listen, listen and read. After five minutes, reflect on or journal responses to these questions:

  • What noises did you sense?
  • What sensations were you aware of in your body?
  • What thoughts or emotions arose the longer you were silent?
  • How did you respond to those thoughts or emotions?
  • What did you hear in the silence?


Experiment 3—An Ongoing Practice

For several days in a row, practice being quiet for five minutes or longer. Each day, while you are quiet, spend some time answering a question or two from this list:

  • What’s the first thing you notice about being quiet?
  • What is the hardest thing about being quiet?
  • What do you end up thinking about or doing while you are quiet?
  • How does being quiet help you?
  • How can you spend more time being quiet?
  • What makes it hard for you to be quiet?
  • In what relationship do you need to be quieter? Why?
  • Are you sometimes too quiet? (Explain.)



Listening to the quiet is not a “one and done.” Make a commitment to practice silence. Aim to practice daily, but start where you are. One or two days this week is better than none.

Let this thought encourage you: Only when we are quiet can we fully listen. A moving mouth is like a cork to the ears and blinders to the eyes. A busy life is a roadblock to peace.

Jim and Amy Still-Pepper are married and highly value quiet time—with each other and, most importantly, with God.

—from devozine (November/December 2019). Copyright © 2019 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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