The Pregnant Pause in Worship
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak.
Why does silence and quiet make us so afraid? Why do we drown out the stillness with all our electronic gadgets? Why do we feel so awkward during a still moment during a Sunday morning service of worship? Could it be that we are afraid that God might actually speak? (Ps. 42:10) Are we nervous about what he might say to us? What issues he might correct in our hearts? What commands he might give? Are we concerned that he might embarrass us with an outpouring of his love? Silence often reveals the anxieties, worries, and fears buried deep within the recesses of our hearts.
Silence has long been a characteristic of the Church’s worship. Leaving room in a service of worship for God to speak personally and corporately should be the goal of every worship leader. The pregnant pause in a worship service could be the very moment the Holy Spirit comes in power (Rev. 8:1).
Mark Dever explains:
There’s silence between various aspects of the service. I encourage service leaders to NOT do the “no-dead-airspace” TV standard of busy-ness. We LIKE “dead air space.” “Dead air space” gives us time to reflect. To collect our thoughts. To consider what we’ve just heard or read or sung. The silence amplifies the words or music we’ve just heard. It allows us time to take it all in, and to pray. We have silence to prepare ourselves. We have silence between the announcements and the scriptural call to worship. We even have a moment of silence AFTER the service! I pronounce the benediction from the end of II Corinthians, invite the congregation to be seated. And then, after about a minute of silence, the pianist begins quietly playing the last hymn that we had just sung. During those few moments, we reflect and prepare to speak to others and depart. We do business with God. We prepare ourselves for the week ahead.
Why do we need this silence?
We silence ourselves exactly because God has not kept silent. We silence ourselves in order to hear God speak in His Word (Deut. 27:9) We silence ourselves to show our assent to God’s charges against us (Ps. 39:9). We silence ourselves to show respect and obedience and humility and restraint (Zeph. 1:7). We silence ourselves to search our hearts (cf. Ps. 4:4).
Not only are we to make a joyful noise unto the Lord (Psa. 66:1-2), but we are also called to wait in his presence (Psa. 37:7). We quiet ourselves because the one who is worthy of all worship speaks and there is no sweeter voice that that of our Lord (John 10: 1-5). In the hustle and bustle of life, we must make silence an important part of our individual and corporate worship.
Read Mark Dever’s entire essay at the IX Marks website.