What is Quaker Silence?

In March of 2014, I experienced a Quaker silent service.

The church I attended traced its roots to 1699, though the meeting house where I sat in was built in 1823.

The service had no minister.

I sat in silence for an hour with one hundred others in a simple room with only benches, windows, and wood floors.

On three occasions, individuals shared a thought.

Then back to silence.

I heard the rain gently pummel the windows.

I heard human sounds: coughing, sniffing, breathing.

I heard the wind blow and wood floors creak.

I heard my thoughts.

Sometimes I had no thoughts, just the spaces between thoughts.

The room became a container filled with peace, love, community.

When we are silent we are naked before God.

We empty our mind of its thoughts and emotions.

We let God’s gaze shine directly on us.

I do this as part of my daily centering prayer practice but had never done it with a group this large.

At the end of the service, we prayed for each other.

We greeted each other and passed the peace.

We are meant to experience silence in community with our God.

George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, often exclaimed that the most powerful kind of worship is silent worship or what Quakers sometimes call “waiting worship.”

Read more in Sitting with God.


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Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening was one of the first books I read as I began my Centering Prayer practice. Here are my 6 takeaways from this wonderful book.

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