Finding Silence


“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence … we need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

In my last post I asked you what your favorite sound was and I talked about the significant value that can come from replacing some of the noise in our lives with silence. This must have hit a nerve because I received more comments on that subject than any other to date.

One person mentioned that having some peace and quiet once in a while sounded wonderful but asked: How? When? Where? It may seem like finding a little time to think, pray, listen, and ponder life are beyond the realities of our world, a world in which we have to squeeze every minute out of every day. We can’t even wait a couple minutes for our latte to be made anymore. Now we order from an app and expect our beverage of choice to be waiting for us when walk into any Starbucks.

It may seem impossible to find time for silence … but it really isn’t. I live in the Los Angeles area where commuting to and from work in a throng of cars is the daily reality for over five million workers. Cheryl is a friend and is one of those millions, commuting each day to her job at an amazing ministry called Teen Challenge. She shared with me how she uses her commute time to double as solitude time:

“I oftentimes find myself driving with my phone on vibrate and the radio turned off. I find the quiet time in the car helps me be more alert as I drive as well as quiets my soul so I’m more aware of God’s presence in leading my day. Silence is definitely a gift from God to hear him much more clearly.”

Paul, a colleague at Halftime Institute calls Cheryl’s idea a “media fast”. There was a time in Paul’s life that he really needed to hear from God but he was having trouble doing so. He knew he had to do something so he implemented a media fast during his commute. He states that “before I knew it, I craved this time with God … I began seeing the fruit of my time with him – more patience, increased self-control, less pride, and greater joy.”

All of this from simply turning off the noise coming from the screens and radios during the daily commute. Can you imagine what could happen if you implemented a 30-day media fast at home and in the car?

If you need a super-focused time with God, we regularly recommend to Halftime Institute Fellows what we call a “solo-silent retreat”. In a nutshell, it’s getting alone somewhere for a day or two with only yourself, God, a Bible, and something to write with. If this sounds a little over the top to you, I can guess that after your first solo-silent retreat, you’ll be back for more. They are that powerful!

Perhaps one of these strategies, or a variation of one, will work for you. I could go on and list at least a dozen additional strategies that I have seen work successfully to help silence the noise in other’s lives but that would make this post much, much longer. Instead, why not reply to this note and let me know you want to chat? I am sure we can discover some strategies that would best fit your life. The alternative (not hearing God’s still small voice speaking to you) doesn’t seem too appealing.

Please feel free to reply to this e-mail if you want to explore this further. I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob Karcher


The best sound you’ll never hear

What is your favorite sound? What thought just entered your mind? Was it the sound of ocean waves gently crashing on the shore? Was it a favorite musical ensemble? Or maybe you love the sound of children playing. All of these are great choices.

How many of you thought of “silence” as your favorite sound? I’ll admit the question was a little tricky; we really don’t think of silence as a “sound”, do we? Yet, silence can be one of the most refreshing sounds you hear if practiced regularly. I’m not talking about giving someone the silent treatment … that’s something altogether different. What I’m referring to is spending some planned quality time in silence for the purpose of increasing your ability to hear.

In our activity-addicted world we have forgotten the importance of spending time in silence. Just take cell phones as one example. A Time article states that Americans check their cell phones eight billion times per day. Yes, I spelled that right … billion, with a “B”. Let’s get this a little closer to home. The average user (that’s you and me) checks their phone 46 times per day. And it rises if you are between the ages of 18-24. That group looks at their phones on average 74 times per day! And I bet these numbers are even higher now than when this research was completed.

When we add all of our other busyness to our cell phone usage, you can quickly see just how addicted to activity we have become. I’m not proposing we all turn in our cell phones … they have become an almost necessary tool in our lives. What I am proposing is we balance out all of the activity and noise in our lives with some silence.

“To hear, one must be silent.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

A little over a week ago I had the incredible experience of enjoying a weekend at a silent retreat with my father. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been to one of these. Dad took me to my first silent retreat when I was just thirteen years old and I have been to many since. At first it was little hard to get used to but now I can’t wait to leave the noise of the world behind for a couple days and go on one of these retreats. Every time I do, my hearing improves dramatically.

I’ve been asked what exactly what I’m “hearing” if I am at a silent retreat. My answer: God’s voice. I need and cherish God’s direction in my life regularly. But I won’t be able to hear Him if I don’t stop to listen. This may sound odd but it really isn’t. Think of what you need to do to listen, really listen, to someone. You need to stop talking, stop what you are doing, turn towards that person, and be still. It’s the same with God and yet we seldom set aside time to do this.

I need God’s voice and direction in my life. Without it I would experience far less clarity, joy, impact, and balance. I know … I’ve tried it the other way and it didn’t work too well. What about you? Could you stand a little less noise and activity, and a little more peace and God in your life? If you so much as sighed a “yes!” when you read that, then let’s get you started on a new path. It’s totally possible.

“OK, I’m in” you might be saying,” but how do I get started?” For now, how about starting small? Find even just five minutes by yourself each day. Just use that cell phone one less time and you’ll have reached your first goal. That’s a great start. You don’t have to go away for two days on a retreat to hear God’s voice. You can hear it right where you are.

Stay tuned because in our next post we are going to explore some great strategies to live with less noise and focus more on the things you want.

Please feel free to comment here or respond to this e-mail if you want to explore this further. I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob Karcher


It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.

Ephesians 1:11