Posted by: Rodney Shaw | September 11, 2009

Gagged by Silence

There are innumerable gatherings and memorials today as Americans remember 9/11. Officials and leaders of all stripes are leading people in politically opportunistic rituals of remembrance, usually Christened with the obligatory moment of silence. The tragedy of 9/11 is surpassed only by the greater tragedy of the institution of the moment of silence. The moment of silence is no victory for Christians. The moment of silence is the gagging of the faithful. We have lost our voice.

America does not need more moments of religious silence. We need war whoops of intercession—not battle cries and battle hymns that celebrate the slaughter of others, but screeches from the soul that cry out in desperation to the Almighty. Guttural groans. Pleading. Repentance. Intercession. Petition. Worship.

As we remember the terror that wrapped us up like a sopping wet blanket in the cold, is holding our peace the best we can do? When our nation is sprinting headlong towards the abyss of secularism and hedonism, is saying nothing the best we can do? When liberalism—not terrorism—is stripping God from every crevice of our beloved Republic, is zipping our lips the most religious thing we can do? Can we do no more than hang our heads?

Our days of prayer have turned into days of silence. Or more accurately, our days of prayer have turned into moments of silence.

When we stand huddled around some shrine or in some public place and are asked to observe a moment of silence, we are at the same time being asked not to weep, not to wail, not to lament, but most of all, we are being asked not to pray. Hang your head to match your sagging heart, but don’t look upward, don’t put your trust in God, don’t have faith. And whatever you do, don’t pray.

America needs to find her voice again, not the swaggering voice of political rhetoric, not the persuasive voice of economic optimism (a.k.a. “materialism”), not the oft times arrogant voice of nationalism, not the shouts of a social protest, not the jaded voice of a placard on a stick outside a clinic—have not we all grown hoarse using such voices? Like adolescents croaking out some ridiculous protest in the living room, we have mastered the ineffective and powerless presentation of our views in the public square. And like an adolescent sent to his room for a time out, we have been sent packing over and over again.

America needs to find her voice again, the voice of prayer. The Almighty bids us to pray. He invites us to lift our voice. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3).

No one stuffed a sock in our mouths. No one strapped a muzzle on our faces. No one held a gun to our heads. No one forbade us to pray. We were simply asked to observe a moment of silence. As seconds lead to minutes and minutes to hours and hours to days and days to thousands of years, will these moments of silence be stacked end on end until we reach a lifetime of silence?

No one “took” prayer out of the public square; we voted with our silence. If we keep beating a dead horse, the flies will continue to swarm. The truth is, we stopped praying at home. As a result, teachers who don’t pray at home don’t want to pray at school. Judges who don’t pray at home don’t want to pray at work. They didn’t take prayer out of school, and they cannot put it back. The solution is for us to start praying at home again. When we do, it will not feel awkward to pray in public. If we find our voice in private prayer, staring at our toes in public will never suffice.

We have been gagged. . . by silence.


© Rodney Shaw and 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rodney Shaw and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



  1. I feel your frustration, and agree we should not bow our head in the face of our enemy but rather look him in the eye and declare that he shall not get one more inch.

    History teaches us to be wary of his devices and not run out and throw down just because the bully is goading us to, but rather as you said, intercession in the closet and bold declaration in public forcing back the plea for silence. Being careful not to confuse Human compassion with Godly compassion. I believe yours is as the spirit of John the Baptist……Motivated by a Kingdom beyond earthly understanding.

    I can however see where political lines of denominational boundaries can cause confusion, jealousy, spit and criticism. Some say pentecostals are not content unless their voice is heard in public, I say we are not content until we become unashamed. The devil can keep his shame, Im with you Brother, let us shout it from the rooftop…………………AMERICA NEEDS JESUS!

  2. As an additional comment, moments of silence in the public arena might well be interpreted as ~opportunity to pray~ inviting individuals to entertain something more than the voices of men, in their ears. I believe that Pentecostals have a sense much is distressed if ~their~ voices aren’t being heard in public, however, the real point of your call – the need that our private prayer closets are not silent, ought to be well taken.

    In years of ministry, I have found people inclined to suppose that a prayer in public (sometimes the Pharisee’s prayer) is more potent than Hanna’s tearing petition. Our God hears the heart. It sometimes seems fitting that the cantors, criers, and contemporary crowd movers be silenced, if ~real~ prayer is to occur in a pluralistic nation.

    Thank you for forgiving my extra use of space.

  3. The clarion call has never been louder and clearer: “If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”(2 Chron. 7:14)

    Thank you for your powerful call to action. You have definately stirred something in my soul.

  4. AMEN, and AMEN!!!!!!!! Can’t say it any better than that! Thank you, for inspiring me. You have no idea how timely that word was!

  5. Thank you Bo Shaw, for your needed voice that declares the error of being herded into irresponsible tolerance, with the offspring daughers, despair and discouragement.

    At the same time, I do not believe there is a particular spiritual identity to the USA apart from the championing of charitable and altruistic principles which allow men and women whose cultural inheritance effectively excludes explicitly Christian precepts, to gather under a single roof to allow the rule of conscience to reign, and we pray, remove as many obstacles as possible from their quest for Truth.

    There is much anguish when our national identity is afflicted and battered, along with the hopes that we feel are vested therein. Yet, we must realize that, along with most other temporary vessels, old wine skins if not rejuvenated, become useful only as a tragic object lesson reminding us to care for them as regards their purpose.

    At this time in history is indeed tragic to see the decline of the USA, and it is sad to see the plight of the lost, but I think worse to hear the horrible and erroneous prejudice that is raised against Muslims within our borders, who are our guests as we have not gone to them with the gospel, on the basis of the grievous events.

    Our constitution is not perfect and does provide for the removal of value judgments by a sect, or minority. These are a people who regard themselves and their faith (often far more disciplined that the Christianity that they perceive here) as victimized by prejudice every day.

    Ultimately our courts will secularize this nation. Lets pray that a mighty church stands strong as its political crutches are removed.

  6. Bedrock truth and aptly written. To heed the cries of our culture and tolerantly refrain from being who we are in order to heal our land, would be to dam the wells from which our only hope of healing comes. The enemy is using a tactic we should easily recognize by now; appealing to our decency, he asks us to politely lay down our swords and keep our peace. Our nation is buying it, but the church is not.

    Thanks for a certain sound.

  7. Your post is not literally about the “moment of silence,” but about a call to action. It is timely and needed. I say a healthy “Amen.”

    Silence is not a bad thing (necessarily). In silence we think, we meditate, we reflect. Words are spoken into our consciousness. It’s a Selah moment. In silence God is revealed as he “whispers” in His still, small voice.

  8. Yes Brother Shaw, I believe that completely…AMEN!

  9. I was watching a historical account of this day. Two things struck me. 1. How President Bush handled the news in front of children.. he kept his composure and 2. When he stood at a podium at the school announcing the tragedy. He asked for a moment of silence. Everything in me cried out… saying NO! We need not be shy to tell this country to pray! We need to cry out! Mourn for all the lives lost, for the evil that was unleashed that day!

    I felt my my soul and the soul of this country was “gagged” because of political correctness.

    It is clear, we are afraid to publicly call on the name of the Lord because of public outcries. We cannot be ashamed of our spiritual heritage or our faith! This is a war we need to stand united in.

  10. Wow! Cannot add to that…the truth speaks for itself!

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