Speak- Featuring Ben Walther and Andrea Thomas
There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD - but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake - but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire - but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. 1 Kings 19:11-12
I was 16 and broken. On the way home from a youth retreat, I heard the LORD speak plainly to me in the back of my mom’s Geo Prizm. I wasn’t praying, really, or even aware of God’s presence with me in that moment, yet He spoke. Clearly. And His word changed the course of my life. I changed schools. I made new friends. I started praying and listening. His words came often and easily, and they fed me for weeks or months at a time. He was clear. He was acting as a Father to me, giving direction where I was lost. I found Him alive in the WORD, and the Spirit breathed new life into my dry bones. There was promise and redemption. His voice brought healing to my brokenness, the salve that soothed my wounds from the battlefield of the earlier years. The mess I had made He was being cleaned up. And for the first time, I had hope. It was a sweet time.
And slowly, the voice that once boomed into my prayer became softer, quieter. It became still and small. His voice became fainter, and I had to strain to hear it. So I filled moments of prayer with the sound of my voice. I told God what I desired and begged Him to hear MY prayers. There was more to discern and more gravity to each decision. I knew God was there with me, but I sensed His presence less and less. Soon the sweet joy of my initial awakening in the faith had subdued, and I was left with more silence, trust and surrender.
Silence is a profound teacher. Some silence we seek in prayer, or in the car or on retreat. Other silence is inflicted upon us in grief and suffering. The monks of antiquity who lived alone in the desert knew that silence was more than wasted time or lost opportunity. They knew that God often speaks to us in the midst of deafening silence. The saints and mystics have written about this too. God often draws us into that silence where we have nothing left to say. We cry out to the LORD to speak, because our words are vain and we are spent. All we have left is the hope of the sound of His voice. We want to know He is still there.
The psalmist captures this agony in Psalm 28: “To you, LORD, I call; my Rock, do not be deaf to me. Do not be silent toward me, so that I join those who go down to the pit.” In recent years, prayer is less fireworks and emotion. It is more discipline and trust. God uses this kind of silence to awaken in us our DESIRE for Him. But in the midst of it, so many of us lose hope that the Father is close to us at all. I pray that this song can be a reminder that “God is close to the brokenhearted” and that we will hear Him once again if we “seek Him with all our heart.” Speak Lord! Your servant is listening!
- Written by Ben Walther
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