In Regarding Henry, Harrison Ford memorably quipped to his movie daughter, “Silence is taken as assent.” (If that’s not verbatim, my apologies. It’s been years since I’ve seen the movie and a quick Google search was no help.) The title character makes this declaration in an effort to justify yet another night away from his family, a justification that in the film, he soon regrets.
Although the line may not be a good governing standard for human relationships, it does offer us some advice to heed when it comes to our relationship with God. I was reminded of this fact recently when, as I mentally griped about the rough day I was having, the soundtrack of a worship song played almost unconsciously in my mind. As I was mentally throwing myself a pity party for all that hadn’t gone as planned, my heart was singing, “Savior please rescue me.” The contrast was remarkable. It was as if my soul knew the proper response, even when my flesh didn’t.
What I recognized this duality – singing a song of adoration while bemoaning the unrealized expectations of this life – I immediately knew that the problem was that I hadn’t taken the problems I was experiencing and brought them to my Savior. I knew that instead of grumbling about what I hadn’t received, I needed to stand silently before His throne as I reminder of all that I had been given. Instead of loudly declaring the injustices I was suffering, I needed to silently assent to my Father’s will recognizing that it is His job to call the plays, it’s my job to follow. If I’m too busy talking, I won’t hear what He’s saying.
This is not to say we aren’t authentic in our prayers. I believe God wants to hear our needs, and is in fact honored when we take our requests before Him. However, so often when I pray, it’s about telling the Lord what I want, what my desires for this life are and how I think things should be. There must be times of listening too, of having our hearts silent before the Lord assenting to what He will reveal and what He has already called us to be. Times where our opinions cease and our obedience begins.
***Update**** – In God’s good providence, after writing this blog, my before-bed reading began with the following, “Deep silence leads us to realize that prayer is, above all, acceptance” – Henri Nouwen, With Open Hands. Truly, silence is assent.