Observing the quiet hours

If you live in Switzerland, you are familiar with the official ‘quiet hours’. Every day from noon to 1 pm, 10 pm to 7 am and all-day Sunday, we are to refrain from ‘excessive’ noise. Times may vary between cantons, but we are to respect our neighbors by keeping it down. What exactly counts as a noise violation is a little vague. The good news, however, is that if you do violate the noise ordinance you will be notified.

When was the last time you really had silence? We live in a noisy world that seeks to grab our attention for every waking moment. If it’s not music playing in the background, it’s our phone notifications making sure we don’t miss anything. Our world is designed to keep us busy, so we don’t pay attention to the important things.

Over the centuries, one key spiritual discipline for Christians is practicing silence. Simply being quiet before the Lord. If the monks, centuries ago, needed this discipline, how much more are we needing it today? How can God speak to us when we are so distracted by everything around us? How can we formulate our prayers and think about our souls? When do we have time to hear the voice of the Lord?

Silence is a spiritual practice. It is necessary to renew and restore us.  When Jesus was travelling and teaching, he had a regular habit of withdrawing in order to be with the Father. “The news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16) It wasn’t just that Jesus took time to pray but he would find a quiet place to do so.

When was the last time you really had silence? For some, quietness is uncomfortable. But it is essential. Start small. Schedule some time when the phone and computer are off. No checking notifications. No one else around. Can you sit quietly for 10 minutes? Can you invite God to fill those moments with his presence? If our desire is to grow in Christ-like character, then we need silence to hear.