The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Finding God in the silence

Published: November 25, 2023   
Annie Wendel

Sitting with God in the quiet has never come easily to me. It is not that I do not enjoy silence, rather, I am scared of what it could possibly bring. What if he tells me something I do not want to hear? What if God is calling me somewhere I do not want to go? The easy solution is to fill my mind with as much noise as possible – I sit on my phone for hours every day, I listen to music on my way to class, I watch TV in my free time. If I can escape silence, then I can escape my thoughts. What I did not realize is that my tendency to avoid silence is what was keeping me from enjoying peace. His peace.

In September, I started the process of “Discipleship” through FOCUS at the University of Arkansas. I was so excited. My prayer life had been feeling dry and I could not figure out why. I had stopped feeling God’s presence in prayer, and I was frustrated because I never felt like I got a response from Him. When I brought this up to my mentor, she said, “Just wait, I promise you will feel differently as we go through Discipleship.” This was not the answer I was looking for. I wanted her to tell me exactly what I was doing wrong – why I was not feeling God’s presence. The next week, we started the “Luke Challenge.” For thirty days, we would sit with a passage from the Gospel of Luke. She challenged us to do at least twenty minutes of prayer, meditating and sitting in silence with Jesus.

The first few days, I treated this process of prayer (Lectio Divina) as a book report. I wrote down a verse and then I annotated it. I sat in silence, but filled it with writing in my journal instead of really sitting with Jesus and actively listening to Him. I sat my obligatory twenty minutes in Adoration, and then immediately got up and went to class. I still did not fully understand what I was doing wrong. On about the fifth day, something changed. I felt God calling me to stay a little longer in Adoration and really enter into the silence with Him – unafraid of what it may bring. 

I did not speak, I did not ask. I let the quiet come. I let my anxieties surface, and I let my fears and desires run in my head. But, strangely, I felt peace. I began to hear God’s voice whisper to me somehow louder than my own thoughts. He reminded me of my baptism with “the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16), encouraged me to “put out into deep water … [and] leave everything and follow Him” (Luke 5:4,11), and assured me of his providence over me: “will he not much more provide for you” (Luke 12:28). I knew then why my prayer life had been suffering – I never stopped talking long enough to listen to God’s response. I had filled my head and heart with noise, because I was afraid of what the silence would bring. Silence made me vulnerable, and that’s exactly what God asked me to be. He wanted me to acknowledge my fear and anxiety, so that he could show me his power over them. 

Why is sitting in silence so unattractive in our world? Because Satan knows that noise is the perfect tool to keep us from developing and nourishing a genuine, intentional relationship with our Father. 1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” God resides deep within our very being. God invites us out of the noise, into the silence, into his peace. Step out of the bustle of life and be vulnerable with the God who loves you. Rest in the comfort of his warm embrace. “Then the Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing the rocks but, the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire that followed.” Where was he? In “a light silent sound” (1 Kings 19:11-12).


Annie Wendel is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Christ the King Church in Little Rock is her home parish.

Bishop Taylor wants you to know more about your faith & the Church: Sign up for Arkansas Catholic's free digital edition.

Please read our Comments Policy before posting.

Article comments powered by Disqus