If Worship Is A Conversation, When Do We Be Quiet and Listen?

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Our worship actions in any audible form can often mute one of the distinct voices of God discernible only in the silence.  In doing so, we can miss His healing, comforting, and encouraging words of hope such as “I am with you; well done; you are forgiven; and I am weeping with you.”

Worship is a conversation that requires not only speaking and singing but also listening and hearing.  The noise of our worship actions often creates worship that is monological.  In other words, our offering of one-sided worship sound can often monopolize the conversation, potentially causing us to miss hearing the voice of God.

The foundation of a meaningful worship conversation is instead dialogical, an interactive exchange of two or more participants.  A healthy conversation includes a balance of discussion and response, listening as well as speaking.  Gary Furr and Milburn Price wrote, “In the drama of the Christian life, worship may be thought of as the script through which the Author of us all calls forth and responds to the deepest and most important longings in us.”[1] Until we occasionally shut up and listen, how will we hear that call?

God’s revelation occurs when He offers us a glimpse of His activity, His will, or His attributes.  Our response is the sometimes spontaneous and sometimes premeditated reply that we call…worship.  We can miss His activity, will, and attributes, however, when we monopolize the conversation by filling our worship with responsive noise only.

Richard Foster wrote, “Silence frees us from the need to control others.  One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless.  We are accustomed to relying on words to manage and control others.  A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out.  We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way.  We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people.  We devour people with our words.  Silence is one of the deepest Spiritual Disciplines simply because it puts the stopper on that.”[2]

Since God began the dialogue and graciously invited us to join Him in it, our worship then could be enhanced when we stop making so much noise.  In order to again listen to and hear His side of the conversation, maybe we should concur with Samuel when he said, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:8).
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[1]Gary A. Furr and Milburn Price, The Dialogue of Worship: Creating Space for Revelation and Response (Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 1998), 90.
[2] Richard J. Foster, Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World (New York: HarperOne, 2005), 68.

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