Quaker Silence

We asked a diverse group of Friends what they find most valuable about silence in Meeting for Worship. This is what they said.

Jon Watts

Jon Watts launched and directed the QuakerSpeak project for its first 6 seasons. Keep up to date with Jon’s work at his website.

16 thoughts on “Quaker Silence

  1. These are quite wonderful — THANK YOU for the creative inspiration, the work involved, and the pure joy that comes into my inbox each Thursday….

  2. Wonderful, rich video of truly deep seekers who have found value in the silence of Quaker worship. I would like to add my personal perspective on silent worship. For me, silence in Friends meetings invites a clearing of distracting thoughts and persistent problems, much like a car windshield is cleaned of dust and debris. Then, silence invites real worship with a heartfelt love for the divine Spirit (and Father and Son as well in my belief system). There is always room to grow in this love, which is my attempt to live the first great commandment of Jesus Christ. There are times when silent worship through an unexpected gift becomes a wonderful, warm Presence of love surrounding my consciousness, like being in an empty box breathing an atmosphere of pure love and caring. At infrequent times, there are other benefits and graces of silent worship, such as intuitive leadings and clear visions. The path to spiritual awakening begins with silence, whether Buddhist or Abrahamic religions.

  3. I did a double-take when I was AM Fink’s photo to lead into this latest Quaker Speak series. AM and I are both part of Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative.
    I hope to see many more of these short videos in the future.
    Many years ago I became a convinced Friend. I found dealing with silent worship my greatest challenge. Unfortunately, time has not made the experience any easier for me. That said, silent worship is probably the most important part of my Quaker experience. The knowledge that I am responsible for my own relationship with that power that we might call God, is a monumental challenge to each of us. Sitting in silence with the support of my Meeting F(f)riends, allows me a better change to really listen and discern what that still small voice of God within me has to teach me.

  4. I am not a Quaker, however, wanting to raise my kids with no specific religion but yes with a millieu of likel mimded folks around them I attended during three years Quaker meeting in East Lansing, Michigan, This was more than 20 years ago. I also had the priviledge to conduct a course in Philosophy for Children at Swarthmore Hall in England not long ago. I subscribed to Friends Journal for many years.
    I love the idea of the importance of silence, of talking from the spirit and about the light in all of us. I do not like the inclusion of God in most of the talk in the videos you are sharing with us. I am an agnostic. My question is: do you have to believe in a God to be a Quaker?

    Thanks for your response.

  5. Thanks for this. The comments are meaningful and heartfelt, and simple. Looking forward to other videos.

  6. As an person raised in the RC faith. I have been unable to bring myself back into that realm.
    My past experience has been as a contemplative lay person who took to heart the saying “Pray Always” .

    My struggles have been endless, until I found your “Quaker Speaks” series on the internet, it is so far helping with my very own Spiritual Slogan…..’The spirit of God penetrates me to my innermost marrow, it is for me as important as the food I eat. If I am to live a life, I see God guiding me into, Her guidance tells me I MUST SEE THE SAME REALIZATION OF GOD”S GOODNESS IN ALL OF MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS.” it has been for me a complete realization of Gods Grace becoming me as a person who walks and talks of her World. Thank You Tom

  7. Amen, Sister.
    Only a black woman could speak this truth and have it publicized among Friends. A man would not feel safe to speak this ……..namely, that Liberal Friends leadership, culture, style & expression are deeply feminized to the point of of disparaging maleness.
    I do not fee comfortable leaving my name or even my email address.

  8. Thank-you for allowing me to express my gratitude and allowing me develop my Quaker faith & practice.

  9. Silent worship and the inspirational vocal ministries drew me in nine years ago, but I’m not the norm. This video made me think of the decline of our membership. Most young Quakers at my meeting are gone. But, many people, seekers, who may be attracted to the simplicity and values of Quakerism are scared s****less when they hear about sitting in silence for an hour. It’s second nature to us. But, most people, some in my family, have a mind spinning with discursive thoughts. The TV must be on, even when we’re not watching or we’re looking at our phone feed for comfort. Silence is a curse — that’s the Quaker conundrum.
    Today, for example, I walked through a large medical facility with long corridors and people seated, waiting for their call. I took note, all of these moms and dads and granddads, all, not a few, were not thinking, or chatting with their neighbor; they sat alone locked into their devices.
    This is our culture like it or not.
    My point is that if we want to attract new members we need to find ways to make sitting for an hour silently, less scary. Most people went to church, perhaps reluctantly like me. but there was singing and talking to get us through the hour. One problem for change is generational Quakers, leaders, they grew up within it, and are so comfortable with silent worship, they don’t get it.
    I don’t know the answer. Maybe it’s welcoming ministries, who ease new people interested into silent worship for 15 minutes at a time with classes about how to do it, and the benefits we get every week.

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