Sermon quotes on silence

Ansel Adams

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community…Let him who is not in community beware of being alone…Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.

Life Together


Matt Chandler

Immaturity talks when it should listen, and is silent when it should speak.


Arthur Conan Doyle

You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol 1

Richard Foster

The purpose of silence and solitude is to be able to see and hear.

Celebration of Discipline

Thomas à Kempis

It is easier to be silent altogether than to speak with moderation.


Thomas à Kempis

In quiet and silence the faithful soul makes progress, the hidden meanings of the Scriptures become clear, and the eyes weep with devotion every night. Even as one learns to grow still, one draws closer to the Creator and farther from the hurly-burly of the World.

The Imitation of Christ

Martin Luther King Jr.

There comes a time when silence is betrayal.

Martin Luther King Jr.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.


C.S. Lewis

I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more. 

Thomas Merton

Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The music is not in the notes,
but in the silence between.

Henri Nouwen

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and for him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists but also that he is actively present in our lives – healing, teaching, and guiding – we need to set aside a time and space to give him our undivided attention.

The Road to Peace


Charles Spurgeon

There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .

Quoted in Morning and Evening

Of Thomas Babington Macaulay

 a prodigiously articulate but oppressively constant talker:

 He has occasional flashes of silence that make his conversation perfectly delightful.

Gunilla Norris

When we make room for silence we make room for ourselves…. Silence invites the unknown, the untamed, the wild, the shy, the unfathomable-that which rarely has a chance to surface within us.

 Sharing Silence

M. Basil Pennington

God is infinitely patient. He will not push himself into our lives. He knows the greatest thing he has given us is our freedom. If we want habitually, even exclusively, to operate from the level of our own reason, he will respectfully keep silent. We can fill ourselves with our own thoughts, ideas, images, and feelings. He will not interfere. But if we invite him with attention, opening the inner spaces with silence, he will speak to our souls, not in words or concepts, but in the mysterious way that Love expresses itself-by by presence.

 Centered Living

Richard Rohr

In silence all of our usual patterns assault us…. That is why most people give up rather quickly. When Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, the first things to show up were the wild beasts.

John Keats

And in the midst of this wide quietness A rosy sanctuary will I dress With the wreath’d trellis of a working brain.

 Ode to Psyche

Edward Schillebeeckx

In a revealed religion, silence with God has a value in itself and for its own sake, just because God is God. Failure to recognize the value of mere[ly] being with God, as the beloved, without doing anything, is to gouge the heart out of Christianity.

The Church and Mankind, Seabury Press, 1976, 118.

A.W. Tozer

God is not silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second person of the Holy Trinity is called “The Word.” The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind.

Robert Newton Peck

Never miss a chance to keep your mouth shut.

John of the Cross

Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you remember Christ crucified and be silent.

Edward T. Hall

Time talks. It speaks more plainly than words. The message it conveys comes through loud and clear. Because it is manipulated less consciously, it is subject to less distortion than the spoken language. It can shout truth where words lie.

The Silent Language (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959), 23.

Thomas Merton

When your tongue is silent, you can rest in the silence of the forest. When your imagination is silent, the forest speaks to you. It tells you of its unreality and of the Reality of God. But when your mind is silent, then the forest suddenly becomes magnificently real and blazes transparently with the Reality of God.

Czesław Miłosz

In a room where

people unanimously maintain

a conspiracy of silence,

one word of truth

sounds like a pistol shot.

Jim Cotter

Again rises from the heart of suffering the ancient cry, O God, why? O God, how long? And the cry is met with silence.

C.S. Lewis

When I lay [my] questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of No answer. It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but in waiving the question. Like, “Peace, child; you don’t understand.

Robert Cardinal Sarah

Jesus is so imperturbable, so calm, and so peaceful that one might think he does not hear the howling of the crowd, which is drunk with hatred… [Pilate] does not understand the use of such an extraordinary silence. He is confronted with God’s silence, in the midst of the howling of men who are drunk with irrational hatred… This event… contains for us a doctrine and a teaching: in the school of Jesus, with our heart, understanding, and will wide open, let us allow God to introduce us into his silence and diligently learn to love and to live in this same silence.

John Climacus

The friend of silence draws near to God.

The Ladder of Divine Ascent (London: Faber & Faber, 1959), 135.

Ignatius of Antioch

There is only one God, revealed by Jesus Christ his Son, who is his Word sprung from silence.

Quoted in Christian Mysticism: Texts from the Patristic Era with Commentary, 2nd ed. (New York: New City Press, 2013), 36.

C.S. Lewis

When I lay [my] questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of No answer. It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but in waiving the question. Like, “Peace, child; you don’t understand.

Benedict of Nursia

There are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence.

The Holy Rule

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

We cannot find God in noise or agitation. Nature: trees, and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon, the sun move in silence.

Source Unknown

I believe in the sun though it is late in rising.

I believe in love though it is absent.

I believe in God though He is silent.

Unsigned Inscription in a Cave Near Cologne, Where Jews had been hiding.

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our illustrations page on Silence. 

Follow us on social media: