Most of us live in a world swirling with sound. Car horns honk, police sirens wail, city building sites chatter and crash with the sound of progress. Even today's walkers and joggers have replaced silence with Walkman entertainment. (A Walkman is a portable stereo cassette player with earphones.) Does the noise of today's world blot out what we really need to hear?
Even long ago when the world was quieter, people would escape from distractions and find peace in silent communion with God. Often this resulted in benefits for mankind as well as for themselves. Moses climbed a mountain to talk with God and came down with the Ten Commandments. The Bible tells of an occasion , perhaps one of many, when Christ Jesus spent the whole night in prayer and in the morning healed multitudes.
''Be still, and know that I am God'' n1 is a command recorded by the Psalmist many hundreds of years ago. Today, too, we need to take time to be still, to cherish moments of quietness when we can turn to God for inspiration and guidance. God's presence and love fill all space, and in truth man can never be separated from Him. God is infinite Mind, giving man direction and intelligence. He is divine Love, imparting to man peace and satisfaction. Yet how often we are unaware of this presence and of the peace inherent in an understanding of Him.
n1 Psalms 46:10.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, spent much time in quiet prayer and in listening for God's direction. She quotes Jesus' saying '' 'When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.' '' And she continues further along: ''In order to pray aright, we must enter into the closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God's allness.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with key to the Scriptures, pp. 14-15.
God's presence and direction become evident to us in many different ways. Some call it ''the voice of conscience.'' To others it is a clear sense of guidance. To still others, to know God's presence is to experience a deep feeling of love and peace.
Although it may be easier to ''hear'' God when we are quiet and alone, we can know His presence wherever we are. If we're listening and receptive, we can find God in a noisy railway station or with a Walkman on. One day I was crossing a busy street on my way back to the office. As I stood on the center island with traffic roaring past on either side, I heard what can only be described as a voice within saying, ''Step back.'' I was so startled, because there was no one else around, that I did nothing. Immediately the command came again: ''Step back.'' As I did so a passing truck hit a big hole in the road and a sheet of corrugated iron bounced off the top of the truck and crashed to the street exactly where I had been standing. If I had not moved back, it would have landed right on me. I had not seen the truck coming or the hole in the road. Only this expression of God's presence saved me. I had not been praying at the time, although I had been feeling joy and gratitude for where I was and what I was doing.
Nothing can shut out the voice of God but our own dull unawareness of His presence, or perhaps a preference for what material sounds have to say. To turn to Him in prayer, to listen for His care and counsel, is to unite ourselves with a power and presence from which we have never really been separated. With this turning to God comes a peace that silences the raucous discords of today's world and enables us to help ourselves and others. The music of spiritual harmony is something we can all cherish and listen for. DAILY BIBLE VERSE I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints. Pslams 85:8