The Worship Quote of the Week for (05/20/2003):

Solitude and Silence in Worship
Last week’s WORSHIP QUOTE included St. Augustine’s comment about prayer, that
sometimes "silence offers the greatest eloquence." Here is another helpful
view on silence, this time by Henri Nouwen.

Solitude and silence can never be separated from the call to unceasing
prayer. If solitude were primarily an escape from a busy job, and silence
primarily an escape from a noisy milieu, they could easily become very
self-centered forms of asceticism. But solitude and silence are for prayer.
The Desert Fathers did not think of solitude as being alone, but as being
alone with God. They did not think of silence as not speaking, but as
listening to God. Solitude and silence are the context within which prayer is

—Henri Nouwen, in THE WAY OF THE HEART (New York: The Seabury Press, 1981),
page 53. ISBN: 0345329597

[Do we have a good balance in our prayer lives between listening and
responding? What would a little more thoughtful silence accomplish in our
times of corporate worship? Can we call something "silent prayer" if there is
instrumental music in the background? I don’t think so. Take a look at Psalm
62:5-6. Although the psalmist valued silence as an important part of his
relationship with God, he also used words (many words) and vocal melodies and
instruments to "voice" his prayer before the Almighty. Let us pray that the
Lord will lead us to a useful, God-focused balance between sound and silence,
between solitude and fellowship.]

Have a great week.

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky