Holy Silence: Book Review

I received this book for free to review and this post may contain affiliate links.

I am excited to share with you my review of Holy Silence:  The Gift of Quaker Spirituality by J. Brent Bill.  J. Brent Bill is a writer, photographer, popular speaker, retreat leader, and a Quaker minister.  You can learn more about J. Brent Bill at BrentBill.com.

“This little book is an invitation to experience more fully the life-changing power of sacred silence.”  Silence is powerful!  We all need a daily dose of silence!  holy-silence

I walk away with three takeaways from this wonderful book.

Quaker Silence

Quaker silence is pregnant with holy expectation.  It is filled with anticipation that Jesus will be there.”  I practice centering prayer.  Centering prayer opens me to the gift of contemplative prayer.

Contemplative prayer is a silent sit with God.  I bring no agenda.  I open my mind, heart and body to God who is beyond thoughts, words and emotions.  I sit with God because I love God.

During centering prayer, I open to God’s presence and action within. I will continue to be open but I will also “expect” that Jesus will be there!  I will also “expect” that Jesus will speak to me!  “Quaker silence is filled with expectation-expectation that God will speak.  When we hear God, our lives are changed.”

Community Silence

I sit in silence two to three times per day.  “In the New Testament we find many examples of Jesus’s seeking the silence of solitude, even group solitude.”  I need silence in community.  There are centering prayer groups in my community.  I must seek them out and also sit in community silence.  Silence in community is powerful.

Brent shares what to expect when you attend a traditional Quaker silent service.  Two years ago I attended a traditional Quaker silent service.  I sat in an old meeting house with at least one hundred adults and children.  I must do so again.  I miss this vital form of silence.

Silent Practices

At the end of the book, Brent provides some silent practices.  One practice caught my attention.  “As you move through this day, look for places where you might be quiet….washing dishes, riding the train to the office, walking in the woods.”  These moments are available to us each day.  It is in these ordinary and sometimes mundane moments that I can and will encounter the Divine.

Next Steps

“I need God’s help.  That is why holy silence is an important part of Quaker life.”  I too need God’s help!  Where will I best find God’s help?  I will find it in the silence of the holy hush.

Please read this short but life-changing book.  It will forever change how you think about silence.

Go Further:

Beauty, Truth, Life, and Love: Four Essentials for the Abundant Life  by J. Brent Bill, available November 5!

Holy Silence by J. Brent Bill

Sacred Compass:  The Way of Spiritual Discernment, by J. Brent Bill

 Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace by J. Brent Bill

Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer by J. Brent Bill

Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes by J. Brent Bill

Holy Silence: The Quaker Way by J. Brent Bill:  Quaker silence is not about stillness, as such, but rather about encountering God in a living and vital holy hush. This e-course encourages women and men to undertake a journey of spiritual silence. The destination is a quiet inner place where God teaches us directly. Friends (as Quakers are formally known) have been honing their take on silence for more than 350 years. It’s a silence that invites us to an immediate and personal encounter with God. That’s because Quakers believe that when we are silent, then the Spirit of God grants us insights, guidance, and understanding of spiritual truth.


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Contemplative Discernment by Fr. Carl Arico, Pamela Begeman, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler: A contemplative practice of discernment is not about decision-making, although this may be an eventual outcome. Rather, contemplative discernment is receptive in nature, a process of opening to receive clues about who we are in God. We focus on ever-deepening levels of relationship and trust in God’s will for us. We learn how to listen deeply to our motivations and sort through and purify any mixed motivations. As this relationship deepens, we learn to allow the love of God to motivate our actions and manifest through us. We discover what it means to truly pray “not my will, but Thy will.”

Embracing Living: The Welcoming Prayer by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Dwyer, Therese Saulnier, Cherry Haisten, Jim McElroy: The Welcoming Prayer is a method of consenting to God’s presence and action in our physical and emotional reactions to events and situations in daily life. If Centering Prayer (or another daily prayer) is practiced for one hour of the day, the Welcoming Prayer is for the other 23 hours. It is a “letting go” in the present moment, in the midst of the activity of ordinary life.

Practicing the Presence of God by Pamela Begeman, Mary Ann Brussat, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, David Frenette: We live in a world of complexity, fragmentation, noise, and haste. We sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of tasks, appointments, and commitments facing us. How can we experience God in the midst of the busyness, responsibilities, and activities of our daily lives? By practice. By living more in the present moment. By practicing the presence of God in the present moment.

Sounds True has titles by teachers and authors such as Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, Richard Rohr, David Frenette, Parker PalmerEckhart  Tolle , Michael Singer , Jon Kabat-Zinn , Marianne Williamson to name a few.

Contemplative Light offers courses on contemplative practices (Christian Meditation, Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer), the Christian mystics (ancient and current) and spiritual writing. Peruse their wonderful offerings.

Prayer-Bracelet: Authentic Orthodox prayer ropes and bracelets are handmade by monks in the Orthodox monastaries reciting a prayer for every knot they tie. Peruse their prayer ropes and bracelets that are all handmade, provided by several orthodox churches around the globe.

The Divine Transformation: Essentials of Christian Mysticism – Welcome to a comprehensive introductory through intermediate level course on both practice and perspectives of these timeless teachings from the Christian Mystical and Contemplative traditions! Whether you are a long-time practitioner looking to solidify your understanding and framework for practice or a beginner interested in immersing yourself in this teaching, this course can serve as a rich resource.

Contemplative Practices: 5 Ways of Consenting to the Divine – Learn methods practiced by Christian mystics for centuries to consent to the action and presence of God within, including Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, Christian Meditation, and the Jesus Prayer.

Writing as a Spiritual Practice: This course helps you to access the rich spiritual stories that lie deeply within you. Words are powerful. The words that you write can be used to:

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  • share your testimonies of how God has worked in your life

How to Write a Devotional: Plus How to Get Them Published – If you read devotionals, you already know how they can be a true blessing. A devotional can uplift you when you’re feeling discouraged, sad or lonely. It can allow you to feel a keen sense of fellowship with another Christian, even if the two of you never actually meet. And, if you are feeling called to write devotionals, know that you have a unique opportunity to bless others and make a genuine difference in their lives. This course takes you step by step through the process, and then guides you towards publishing, if that is your goal.

Drawing from the wisdom of monastic life, modern psychology and best practices in personal productivity, the Monk Manual provides a daily system that will help you find clarity, purpose, wisdom, and peace in the moments that make up your life.

6 thoughts on “Holy Silence: Book Review”

  1. Thanks for this kind review, Rich. If any of your readers are in the Philadelphia area, they might want to attend “Finding Silence in a Noisy Season” on Dec 15, 2016 at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, PA. I’ll be doing an Author’s Talk, Book Signing, and Reception from 7:30pm-9:00pm in the Barn there. It’s free and open to the public. No reservations are required. Find out more at https://pendlehill.org/events/finding-silence-noisy-season/#.WELhBNIrKM8

    Thanks again for the review.

  2. Ralph Beebe, Prof. of History Emeritus George Fox University Newberg, OR 97132 Member: Newberg Friends Church Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends says:

    Thank you, Rich. I am ordering a copy of Holy Silence. I appreciate the good work you and Brent both do for Christ.

    1. Ralph – Wonderful! You will enjoy Holy Silence. I did! Last week I met Brent at a book reading he did at Pendle Hill.

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