Our worship actions can mute the distinct voice of God that is often only discernible in the silence. In the midst of our self-generated noise, we can miss His healing, comforting and encouraging words of hope such as “I am with you, well done, you are forgiven and I am weeping with you.”
Gary Furr and Milburn Price wrote, “In the drama of the Christian life, worship may be thought of as the script through which the Author of us all calls forth and responds to the deepest and most important longings in us.” Until we occasionally stop to listen, how will we hear that call?
Worship is a conversation that requires not only speaking and singing but also hearing and listening. The noise of our sermons and songs as the only worship voice can create monological worship. Our offering of one-sided worship sound can monopolize the conversation, potentially causing us to miss the voice of God.
The foundation of a meaningful worship is instead dialogical. It is an interactive exchange of two or more participants. Healthy conversations include a balance of discussion and response, listening as well as speaking.
Since God began the conversation and graciously invited us to join Him in it, our worship could then be enhanced and renewed when we stop trying to monopolize the conversation with our responsive noise only.
We rely on the words of our sermons and songs to manage and control others. A frantic stream flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see and even sing things our way. We evaluate, judge, condemn and devour congregants with our words. Silence as one of the deepest spiritual disciplines puts a stop to that.
So in order to again hear and listen to God’s side of the conversation, maybe it’s time to concur with Samuel in our services of worship, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:8).
 Gary A. Furr and Milburn Price, The Dialogue of Worship: Creating Space for Revelation and Response (Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 1998), 90.
 Richard J. Foster, Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World (New York: HarperOne, 2005), 68.
Dr. David W. Manner serves as the Associate Executive Director for Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists with responsibilities in the areas of Worship, Leadership and Administration. Before joining the convention staff in 2000, David served for twenty years in music/worship ministry with congregations in Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Oklahoma Baptist University; a Master of Church Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Worship Studies from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies.