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To remind pupils of the importance of silence.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To remind pupils of the importance of silence.

Preparation and materials

  • The full story of Elijah is in 1 Kings 17—19 (see section 4).


  1. Silence! (Shout this as loud as you can and see what response you get!)

    Silence is what we are going to be thinking about today.

    What does the word ‘silence’ make you think of? (Get pupils to call out or discuss in pairs.)

    Some suggestions:

    –  exams
    –  a minute’s silence when someone dies
    –  a really strict teacher
    –  peace and quiet
    –  boring times alone with nothing to do
    –  scary times when every noise is sinister.
  2. Most of us experience very little silence in our busy lives. We are always surrounded by our friends, or watching TV, or listening to music, or chatting on our mobiles.

    Some of us find silence uncomfortable and would do anything to avoid it. Not many of us would admit to finding silence enjoyable.
  3. However, all religious traditions value silence and regard it as an essential element in the search for spiritual growth. Inner silence is understood to bring one in contact with the divine or ‘ultimate reality’.

    William Penn (1644–1718), an English Quaker who founded a colony near Philadelphia in America, and after whom the US state of Pennsylvania was named, said, ‘True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body – nourishment and refreshment.
  4. One man who found that out for himself was Elijah, a character from the Old Testament. Listen to this account of what happened and of what he might have said and felt.

    Dejected . . . depressed . . . desperate . . . what words can I find to describe this misery I feel?

    I wish I were dead. Leave me here to die. Alone. So alone.

    The only prophet left in the whole of Israel. Can you imagine what that feels like? I just can’t speak out for God on my own any more. Weary. So weary.

    Can you imagine how hard it is, standing for God in such evil times with evil kings doing such evil deeds? Afraid. So afraid.

    The threats of the wicked Queen Jezebel are ringing in my head. I got rid of her prophets of Baal and now she wants me dead.

    Just leave me here to die.

    Elijah, stand up on the mountain. The Lord is about to pass by.

    What’s that? What’s going on?

    A wind. A mighty rushing wind. But the Lord is not in the wind.

    An earthquake. A rumbling, rock-splitting earthquake. But the Lord is not in the earthquake.

    A fire. A fierce destroying fire. But the Lord is not in the fire.

    And then silence. ‘A sound of sheer silence.’

    All at once, I know.

    I connect with the living God.

    He has always provided for me.

    He has always heard the cry of my heart.

    He will not stop now.
  5. Elijah met with his God in the silence and the Lord gave him a new sense of hope and purpose. He also provided a helper, Elisha, who would carry on Elijah’s work for God.

Time for reflection

The religious writer Elisabeth Kübler-Ross said, ‘Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.

Elijah discovered for himself the truth of that statement.

Perhaps you would like to discover it too.

Let us reflect on the importance of silence in the silence.




‘Sometimes, Lord, often –

I don’t know what to say to you.

But I still come, in quiet,

For the comfort of two friends sitting in silence.

And it’s then, Lord, that I learn most from you.

When my mind slows down,

And my heart stops racing.

When I let go and wait in the quiet,

Realising that all the things I was going to ask for

You know already.

Then, Lord, without words,

In the stillness

You are there.’

(Taken from the Introduction to A silence and a Shouting
by Eddie Askew (The Leprosy Mission International, 1984


‘Be still, for the presence of the Lord’ by David J. Evans

‘The Sound of Silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel

Publication date: June 2012   (Vol.14 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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