Humble Silence Before God (Ecclesiastes 5:1–2) - Radical

Humble Silence Before God (Ecclesiastes 5:1–2)

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God to draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in Heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.”
– Ecclesiastes 5:1–2

Wow, those two verses definitely make me not want to say much even to lead into prayer, and even as I pray. This is a good reminder to all of us that when we come before God, we need to remember who he is. We need to pause.

Ecclesiastes 5:1–2 Leads Us to Slow Down

I say this often with my kids when we’re about to pray before a meal. That prayer time can feel so routine and almost mundane if we’re not careful. I’m constantly saying, “Hey, let’s pause and think about who we’re talking to right now.” That’s a good reminder for us right now and all the time, when we think about prayer, when we think about prayer individually, when I think about gathering together with others for prayer and for worship on a Sunday for example, and church.

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Obviously, the house of God is talking about the temple here in the Old Testament in a way that’s different from church buildings today, but all the more reason when you read 1 Corinthians 6 to see our bodies described as the temple of the holy spirit, and I Corinthians Three to describe the church, the assembly of God’s people as the temple of God.

Reminded of the Value of Silence

So, let’s pause and just remember when we pray who we’re talking to, and in that to remember that silence is a good thing before a holy God, not to be rash, or hasty with our words, to use this language from Ecclesiastes 5, and even to let our words be few. Let’s pray and before I even say anything, can we just pause for a moment and think about who we’re praying to. Oh God, you are in Heaven and we are on earth. Even as we pray slowly with silence at different points with pausing, to think intentionally about our words we are reminded of how rash we can be with our words.

Ecclesiastes 5:1–2 Leads Us to Confess Our Sin

God, I confess this, and I don’t think I’m alone in this that we can be so quick to speak and slow to listen to you. Forgive us for this, oh God. Help us to be quick to listen to you and slow to speak, to let our words in this sense be few, to feel the wonder and the gravity of who you are, oh God, and to worship you not just with our words but with our silence before you.

As we fear, and revere, and honor you for who you are, that you would lead us as we pray. God, we pray that you would keep us all from ever approaching you without due, honor, reference, and fear in worship. Teach us to be silent, to guard our steps when we come before you, to listen and to pray accordingly, and to pray with our words accordingly. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Ecclesiastes 5:1-2. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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