The Power of Silence

“The Lord’s life was marked by silence. He was born in the stillness of the night. He rose from the dead in the stillness of the night. But I think His time in the desert just before He began His public ministry is the template for all of us. A fruitful life is one that begins in silence.”

Father Joseph Illo joined Josh Raymond on The Inner Life to talk about the value of silence in our lives, in prayer, in discernment, and in exercising prudence.

As Father Joseph explained, before we do anything great, we must begin in silence. Nobody begins an illustrious career in anything based purely on pedigree, boasting, and noise. That’s a good way to make a fool of yourself when you succumb to your ego. No. Greatness begins in silence, humility, and frugal beginnings because silence is the language of God.

Moses went up to the mountain alone to meet God in silence for forty days before bringing the law to the Israelites. Likewise, Jesus went into the desert for forty days before beginning His public ministry; bringing the new, fulfilled law to the Israelites. And it’s no coincidence that Jesus chose the desert as His place of silence, contemplation, and prayer. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, there were men and women, known as the desert fathers and desert mothers, who chose lives of solitude and silence over lives of material possessions.

St. Anthony of the Desert was one of the most famous examples of this type of hermitic lifestyle. He left behind his inheritance, his family, and Alexandria to become a man of the desert whose entire existence was dedicated to prayer. In a nutshell, that’s what Christ did for forty days. He departed from society and the world to encounter His Father in a place where you can hear nothing but your heartbeat and your breath.

And at the end of those forty days, somebody breaks the silence of the desert. And it’s the same figure who will break the silence for us as well: the devil. Interrupting our peace and rest in God’s presence is the devil, who will do anything to distract us from encountering God in an intimate or developmental way.

“If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:3)

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written:

‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:6)

“Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, ‘All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.’” (Matthew 4:8-9)

And how does Our Lord respond? The same way any of us should respond when being confronted with evil: turn to scripture. The Word of God will not leave us stranded with our temptations.

“It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

“Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7)

“Get away, Satan! It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10)

It is only through silence, contemplation, and conversation with God that we will develop the strength and resilience needed to face our own demons and temptations throughout life. So, find times for silence. Find time to venture into your own proverbial desert where the world cannot distract you from training for your battles.

Tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.