The Sound of Silence in Lent 2018

Time is precious to us.

There’s so much to do! We can really struggle to put any time aside for God. So this exercise is about giving 5 minutes of that precious time to God for each day of Lent. But this is not about having 5 minutes of prayer each day. It’s about having 5 minutes of silence, in which all we do is reflect and listen. Before starting the 5 minutes of silence I recommend reading a short passage from the Bible, and so I have included a 40 day Bible reading plan that takes you through the Gospel of John (see below).

Lent Bible reading plan for Western Christians (Roman Catholic/Protestant)
Lent Bible reading plan for Eastern Christians (Orthodox/Coptic)
*The two branches of the Christian church do Lent differently.

So, what to do with the five minutes?

This is not a time for making requests. It’s not a time for speaking your mind. It’s just a time for being in God’s presence and listening. You can reflect a bit on the Bible passage you’ve just read. God may want to speak to you through it. But essentially, see this time as a gift you are giving to God. Give God the freedom to speak to you if he wants to, or not speak to you if that is what he wants. One thing is for sure…the God who loves you will love the fact that you want to spend some time with him.

Additional thoughts:

  • You might like to light a candle when you have your time of silence. God is not in the fire (1 Kings 19:12)…but he has spoken out of the fire (Exodus 3:2).
  • You can do this exercise on your own or with others (e.g. with your family).
  • If you’re including young children, or others who have very little experience of silence and stillness, you may want to start with one or two minutes each day and build up.

If you had a go with this exercise please write using the contact page to let me know how you got on.

“After printing off the references, and reading the passages slowly, I wrote a one sentence summary on the paper to help me remember and understand the sequences of the Jesus story. This also helped to keep me up to date when I missed a day or so! Having short passages to read, and going through the whole gospel of John, it was manageable with a sense of achievement at the end. The lighting of the candle helped me to focus and gave me time to reflect on the passage; to sit and listen and try to still my mind before God. In all it was a refreshing and challenging exercise.”

Philippa Latham

“While I did not follow this Lent programme to the letter, I did find that reading a whole gospel (in this case John) over the Lent period to be very worthwhile. I was grateful to his working out a daily portion, although perhaps bemused that Sundays were treated as a rest day! However, for me as a fairly regular preacher, this too was helpful as I am normally preoccupied with the text and message I am due to preach on that day.”

Nigel Walker

“My husband and I decided to follow the John readings throughout Lent. We have not read the Bible together for a while so this was a great opportunity to start again. One of our children decided to join us each morning and we encouraged her to read some of the passages too. We had some interruptions from our lively 5 year old son but we encouraged him to get involved as well. Our five minutes silence was a great time to reflect on the passage, especially if everyone managed to keep still for that time! We feel encouraged to try to keep this routine of Bible-reading going beyond Lent.”

Helen Hobbs

“As a family, we tried a variation on this theme during Lent. We chose the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, which took us all the way through the Bible, culminating appropriately in Jesus’s death and resurrection. The first week we read a passage together, then had a 2 minute silence, then finished with a prayer. Each week we increased the silence by one minute, until we reached five minutes. Some days we were impressed by how well our 6 year-old managed to keep still and quiet during the time of silence. Other days this was less successful and there were some days when he chose not to join us. Overall however, we found it a very positive experience.”

Roxana Walker

“I’ve been exploring the use of silence in prayer and so decided to use the Lent exercise, hoping that it would help me establish a practice I could continue with once Lent was over. I read the Church of England “LiveLent” email which I received each morning, then took whatever struck me and sat with it in silence for 5 to 15 minutes depending on the time available. I also came across the idea of holding an empty, attractive bowl – so holding ourselves in emptiness before God – or, perhaps, a desire for emptiness. On some days I started with a bowl which I felt to be overflowing with “stuff”. Holding something helped in focussing, and the bowl sitting on my prayer table drew me to prayer and reminded me about silence.”

Caroline Redman