My “5 Minutes of Nothing” rule to dissent from the “Kingdom of Noise”

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (Psalm 10:4)

In 1517, Martin Luther had an “aha” moment that would change the world. He realized that “the merciful God justifies us by faith,” and not by works.

Where was Luther when he had this epiphany? In a grand library? Walking in a beautiful garden perhaps? No. As Luther biographer Eric Metaxas explains, “God had given [Luther] this insight while he was sitting on the toilet.”

I’m not surprised, because even in Luther’s day, the outhouse was a rare place of silence and solitude, free from what C.S. Lewis called “the Kingdom of Noise” that surrounds you and me to this day.

Everywhere we turn we are bombarded by external noise—nonstop emails, texts, information, and entertainment—which leads to a more dangerous internal noise that blocks our ability to think, be creative, and most importantly, listen to the voice of God.

That is what David is primarily concerned with in today’s passage when he says that “the wicked man” has “no room” in “his thoughts…for God.” 

If that doesn’t describe most people today, I don’t know what does. “We are always engaged with our thumbs, but rarely engaged with our thoughts,” says pastor Kevin DeYoung. Which means that we are drowning out the One Input we need most. ​​We are inflicting ourselves with what Tim Keller called “the torture of divine absence.”

The solution to this epidemic is simple, but not easy: We must embrace practices that help us dissent from the kingdom of noise.

Let me offer one simple practice you can start implementing today. I call it my 5 Minutes of Nothing rule. Here’s what it means. If I have less than 5 minutes unexpectedly at my disposal, I do absolutely nothing at all. I refuse to fill that crevice of my day with noise.

Here’s what this could look like for you today. When you show up to a Zoom meeting early and you’re waiting for the host to start the meeting, don’t check your email. When you head to the bathroom like Luther, refuse to check your phone. When you drive to the bus stop to pick-up your kids, don’t press play on your favorite podcast (even if it’s my own).

What do I recommend you do instead? Be still. Pray. And make room in your thoughts for God to speak.


P.S. My 5 Minutes of Nothing rule is just one idea for how to dissent from the kingdom of noise. Want more ideas? I share eight more in Chapter 3 of Redeeming Your Time!


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