1 And now behold, it came to pass that all the people of the land did hear these sayings, and did witness of it. And after these sayings there was silence in the land for the space of many hours;
2 For so great was the astonishment of the people that they did cease lamenting and howling for the loss of their kindred which had been slain; therefore there was silence in all the land for the space of many hours.
3 And it came to pass that there came a voice again unto the people, and all the people did hear…
The appearance of the Savior on the American continent is the most significant event in the Book of Mormon. How were the people prepared to be taught by the Savior and to be converted?
The catastrophic tragedies which they experienced broke their hearts and caused them to think about the things which mattered most, including the loss of their friends and relatives. Mormon told us that after the destruction, they wept, they mourned, and they groaned. Then, they heard a voice, a compassionate voice which put what they had just experienced into a context and helped them start to make sense of it. As we read in the passage above, they were silenct after that for a long time–“for the space of many hours.”
What role can silence play in preparing our hearts and minds to hear the word of God. For one thing, extended periods of silence can help us discipline our brains and eliminate distractions. By reducing the internal noise level, it can help us be more sensitive to the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost. It can also create space in our minds for new ideas and insights which might otherwise be crushed under the weight of our daily concerns.
This weekend, I will take some time to ponder before participating in General Conference. I will find some time to be silent and to clear my mind of worldly distractions, so that I can be prepare to receive the word of God as delivered by His chosen prophets.