In a letter to his friends, hymn writer Wendell P. Loveless related this story: One
evening a speaker who was visiting the United States wanted to make a telephone call. He
entered a phone booth, but found it to be different from those in his own country. It was
beginning to get dark, so he had difficulty finding the number in the directory. He
noticed that there was a light in the ceiling, but he didn't know how to turn it on. As he
tried again to find the number in the fading twilight, a passerby noted his plight and
said, "Sir, if you want to turn the light on, you have to shut the door." To the
visitor's amazement and satisfaction, when he closed the door, the booth was filled with
light. He soon located the number and completed the call.
In a similar way, when we draw aside in a quiet place to pray, we must block out our
busy world and open our hearts to the Father. Our darkened world of disappointments and
trials will then be illuminated. We will enter into communion with God, we will sense His
presence, and we will be assured of His provision for us. Our Lord often went to be alone
with the Heavenly Father. Sometimes it was after a busy day of preaching and healing, as
in today's Scripture reading. At other times, it was before making a major decision (Luke
Our Daily Bread.
Out in front of us is the drama of men and of nations, seething, struggling, laboring,
dying...but within the silences of the souls of men an eternal drama is ever being
enacted. On the outcome of this inner drama rests ultimately, the outer pageant of
William Wilberforce, Christian statesman of Great Britain in the late 18th and early
19th centuries, once said, "I must secure more time for private devotions. I have
been living far too public for me. The shortening of private devotions starves the soul.
It grows lean and faint."
Following a failure in Parliament, he remarked that his problems may have been due to
the fact that he spent less and less time in his private devotions in which he could
earnestly seek the will of God. He concluded, "God allowed me to stumble."
Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private devotions.
Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart
to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these
believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly
remind the negligent one, "Brother, the grass grows on your path."
Today in the Word, June 29, 1992.
One hour of quiet concentration in any business can be worth two hours of normal
working time, according to the management of a Denver business, quoted in a Success
"Interruptions are the biggest enemy of creativity," says Gary Desmond, a
principal of Hoover Berg Desmond (HBD) a $30 million a year architectural firm. To
minimize the inevitable interruptions in the firm's large, open offices, Desmond came up
with the idea which is more familiar with kids than corporations--the quiet hour. Every
morning from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., no one at HBD including the principals, may communicate
with anyone else inside or outside the office. "Basically, we're sitting at our desks
for that hour," says Desmond, who makes allowances for emergency phone calls.
"We try to focus totally on our clients' designs." Initially, HBD's 25 employees
balked at the concept.
"Management had to explain that this was not a response to bad work habits. It was
a vehicle to make us concentrate even more rigorously," says Desmond, although he now
concedes that quiet hour is an excellent crack-the-whip technique too. But what do the
clients think of it? At first, the firm chose to hide the policy from the outside world.
"Businesses that found out used to ask if we served milk and cookies at quiet
hour," says Desmond. "But we stuck to it and now those same firms respect how
much we're trying to accomplish every morning." Quiet hour has worked out so well, in
fact, that HBD wants to start a second one, perhaps in midafternoon. "Our employees
all wish they had more quiet hours," says Desmond. "It gives us what most
businesses need so badly, a little time to think."
Management Digest, Vol. 1, No. 4, July,
The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.
Henry Ward Beecher
Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your
work your judgment will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to
lose power of judgment...Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller, and
more of it can be taken in at a glance, and lack of harmony or proportion is more readily
Leonardo da Vinci. Who excelled as a painter, sculptor,
poet, architect, engineer, city planner, scientist, inventor, anatomist, military genius,
Statistics and Research
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual
challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness.
5. (Tie) Sexual lust.
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their
time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting
temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76
percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
Discipleship Journal, November / December 1992.
A research psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health was convinced he
could prove his theory from a cage full of mice. His name? Dr. John Calhoun. His theory?
Overcrowded conditions take a terrible toll on humanity. Dr. Calhoun built a nine-foot
square cage for selected mice. He observed them closely as their population grew. He
started with eight mice.
The cage was designed to contain comfortably a population of 160. He allowed the mice
to grow, however, to a population of 2200. They were not deprived of any of life's
necessities except privacy--no time or space to be all alone. Food, water, and other
resources were always clean and in abundance. A pleasant temperature was maintained. No
disease was present. All mortality factors (except aging) were eliminated. The cage,
except for its overcrowded condition, was ideal for the mice. The population reached its
peak at 2200 after about two-and-a-half years. Since there was no way for the mice to
physically escape from their closed environment, Dr. Calhoun was especially interested in
how they would handle themselves in that overcrowded cage.
Interestingly, as the
population reached its peak, the colony of mice began to disintegrate. Strange stuff
started happening. Dr. Calhoun made these observations: 1)Adults formed natural groups of
about a dozen individual mice. 2) In each group each adult mouse performed a particular
social role...but there were no roles in which to place the healthy young mice, which
totally disrupted the whole society. 3) The males who had protected their territory
withdrew from leadership. 4) The females became aggressive and forced out the young...even
their own offspring. 5) The young grew to be only self-indulgent. They ate, drank, slept,
groomed themselves, but showed no normal aggression and, most noteworthy, failed to
reproduce. After five years, every mouse had died. This occurred despite the fact that
right up to the end there was plenty of food, water, and an absence of disease. After the
research psychologist reported on his experiment, a couple of significant questions arose.
Q: "What were the first activities to cease?"
A: "The most complex activities for mice: courtship and mating."
Q: What results would such overcrowding have on humanity?"
A: We would first of all cease to reproduce our ideas, and along with ideas, our goals and
ideals. In other words, our values would be lost."
Charles Swindoll, Quest For Character, p. 35-36.
Noise affects human behavior. In one experiment carried out by psychologists, a student
leaving a library intentionally dropped an armload of books. In 50% of the cases, a
passerby stopped to help the student pick up the books. Then the experimenters brought out
a lawn mower without a muffler and started it near where a student would again
intentionally drop the books. This time, only about 10% of the people who passed stopped
to help. It was clear that behavior changed because of the earsplitting sound of the
nearby lawn mower.
In experiments in Los Angeles, researchers found that children who lived in
neighborhoods near the airport could not complete certain tasks undertaken when jets were
landing and taking off as easily as children who lived in quiet neighborhoods. Some
studies of prison conditions have shown that the high level of noise causes more
complaints by prisoners than the food or other prison conditions do.
"Carry some quiet around inside thee," the well-known Quaker, George Fox,
used to say. "Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit, from thy own thoughts,
and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord from whence
cometh life; whereby thou mayest receive the strength and power to allay all storms and
Let me meet you on the mountain, Lord,
You wouldn't have to burn a whole bush.
Just a few smoking branches
And I would surely be ...your Moses.
Let me meet you on the water, Lord,
It wouldn't have to be on White Rock Lake.
Just on a puddle after the annual Dallas rain
And I would surely be...your Peter.
Let me meet you on the road, Lord,
You wouldn't have to blind me on North Central Expressway.
Just a few bright lights on the way to chapel
And I would surely be...your Paul.
Let me meet you, Lord,
Just meeting you in the Word is so hard sometimes
Must I always be...your Thomas?
Norman Shirk, April 10, 1981, KQ (Dallas Seminary)