Often, Christians refer to the time they spend with the Lord as their “quiet time.” It’s the time set aside to read Scripture, pray, and engage with our Creator, but should it really be truly quiet time? Should we actually speak our prayers out loud instead of keeping them silent? Should we cry out to the Lord, sing praises to him, and give him thanks with our voices?
In high school, I remember my English teachers telling us that both plays and poetry were meant to be read out loud instead of processed silently. As a poetry fan, I recently started reading the lines out loud to myself instead of just quietly flipping through the pages, and I was shocked at how powerful of an experience it was. I got chills as I heard the words said out loud, and the beauty of the rhythm and rhymes were more stunning when I heard them.
I think we would also be shocked at how powerful of an experience it could be for our quiet times to not be so quiet after all.
David Powlison recently wrote “Stop Having Quiet Times” for The Gospel Coalition, and he shares more than a few examples of Bible verses that encourage us not to be silent.
- “When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.” Exodus 22:27
- “In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.” 2 Samuel 22:7
- “May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.” Psalm 20:5
- “Sing the praises of the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.” Psalm 9:11
- “Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief.” Ezekiel 21:6
As you spend intentional time with God, here are a few ways you can shift your perspective from a silent quiet time to a more noisy worship time:
- Talk to God like you’re talking to a friend. This was one of the thoughts that has stuck with me from my early Sunday school days, and it’s a helpful reminder. We often pray to God like he is distant or demanding or a dictator, but if we approach him in a more conversational style of prayer, we will be in a better posture to encounter him. “When you talk aloud you express the reality that you’re talking with someone else, not simply talking to yourself inside your own head,” Powlison says. “Prayer is verbal because it’s relational. It’s not a psychological experience. It’s not contemplative immersion in an inner silence beyond words. It’s an honest verbal conversation about things that matter, talking with someone you know, need, and love.”
- Follow the example Jesus set. We see throughout the Gospels time and time again that Jesus prioritized prayer, and that he was in constant conversation with his Heavenly Father. “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ (Luke 11:1). Something about the candor, focus, directness, and scope of how Jesus sought his Father struck them,” says Powlison. “And when Jesus walked off into the olive grove that final Thursday night in order to pour out his heart’s distress, his disciples overheard his fervent plea and submission (Matt. 26:36–44). As subsequent Scripture reflects, ‘In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death’ (Heb. 5:7).” Jesus clearly showed us how we too should interact with the Father, and it involves us being vocal with him.
- Change your scenery and environment. “Both in Jesus’s teaching and example, a praying person talks candidly and out loud with the Father—and seeks privacy to do so,” shares Powlison. ‘Go to your room and shut the door,’ he tells us (Matt. 6:6). If others can’t hear you, you’re more likely to talk straight and you won’t be tempted to mouth prayers fabricated to impress. Jesus sought privacy for himself: ‘He went up on the mountain by himself to pray. He would withdraw to desolate places and pray’ (Matt. 14:23; Luke 5:16). Why? He was talking it out with his Father.” It makes sense that we need to step out of the hustle and bustle to truly encounter the Lord, especially when other people or tasks on our to-do list can so easily distract us. I’ve found that taking walks around my neighborhood is a great way for me to be alone and quietly talk to God without any interference.
- Balance the noise with the silence. While we’ve been focusing on using our voices and being more vocal in our time with God, it’s still important to also create space for silence, stillness, and internal reflection. “Do be quiet, and for the right reasons—so you can notice and listen, so you can find your voice. This living God is verbal and listens attentively to you,” says Powlison.
This week, I encourage you to try a less quiet “quiet time” and see how the Lord meets you in that space. Our God is a God who speaks, who hears, who sees, and who knows. We can sing to him, cry out to him, talk with him, shout to him, weep with him, and praise him, and he will meet us in the midst of it all.