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Quaker Silent Worship, in Spirit and in Truth
By: Paul Thompson
Christ calls us together to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. It is more a testimony to his authority that we gather, than any decision of ours to be in a certain place at a certain time.
Christ promises to be with us when we meet in his name, and tells us to ask God for what we need, in his name. It is important that we know what this means. It is not that we simply call ourselves his people, get together, and voice requests. In Jewish culture, within which Jesus taught during his mortal ministry, to invoke a name is to invoke the power behind that name.
Therefore when we meet to worship, we surrender our own will and purpose to that of our Shepherd, Christ. He calls each of us by name, and draws us into the fold.
In that safety, we wait in silence. It is not a vacant, listless silence, if we are prepared to let goof our concerns and busy thoughts, even thoughts about things which we have convinced ourselves need praying about! The physical silence becomes, under that steadying divine hand, a deep, worshipful stillness.
In that stillness, we are prepared to feel God’s Holy Spirit at work amongst us. It is this Spirit that gathers us together, and which takes over the ordering of the worship.
The Spirit may move someone to speak or preach, which is an uplifting experience, both for speaker and listener; far more so than any prepared sermon, however instructive. Someone may be moved to pray out loud, praying in the grip of the Holy Spirit; this is true prayer, far more than following a pattern of words or the direction of a human authority would be
The Spirit may bring someone to their feet to praise or sing. They will have said to God, "open thou my lips", as did the psalmist, which is far more praise than a hymn number on a board.
This meeting together for worship, our first testimony to Christ’s leadership of our lives, leads to all our other testimonies, by which we bear witness to his authority.
As we have gathered, so we are eventually allowed to go. The worship ends, and we return to other things. What we take with us from our meeting, is the knowledge that Christ is our constant guide, the Light that shines upon all who enter the world. Worship continues throughout our daily lives, maybe at a different level, making us his disciples, his friends, the living stones of his church.