Solitude and Silence

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6

In repentance and rest you shall be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

True religion disposes persons to be much alone in solitary places for holy meditation and prayer. – Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards

In silence we learn to ask the right questions about God, about the world, and about ourselves. Without silence we become so many `tinkling gongs and clanging cymbals.’ NW Goodacre, Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

Silence and Solitude are not ends in themselves. Instead, they are exercises that lead us to a richer and deeper life of godliness and fellowship with our Maker. The following are some practical ends the Disciplines of Silence and Solitude can move us towards.

Deeper Communion with God

Jesus sets the example for us as we seek to follow Christ and live out the Lord’s calling on our lives to be ministers of the gospel.
Matthew 14:23 – After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
Mark 1:35 – Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Luke 4:42 – At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.

Learning To Restrain The Tongue
It is truly amazing to consider the ways we use words: 1) we use words to control others and when we are deprived of the use of words, various insecurities might set in; 2) we use words to support our image in the eyes of others, and silence can leave us speechless and vulnerable.
Seasoned speech is a legitimate part of our Christian development (James 1:19 & 26). The Proverbs are replete with instruction on the speech of the godly person. Proverbs 17: 27 – “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint” – is just one example. Silence and Solitude help
shape our speech. It is important to recognize that this shaping wrought through Silence and Solitude begins on the inside. Consider these verses regarding our speech: Luke 6: 45; Matt.12: 33-36; Matt. 15: 19

Rest For Bodily and Spiritual Renewal
Jesus said to his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). Solitude can be a very refreshing time to center ourselves and receive vital renewal of both body and spirit; renewal that is necessary for growth and for doing the Lord’s work.

Growth in the awareness of the truth of ourselves.
In Silence and Solitude we come to see ourselves for who we really are. This can be at once illuminating and intimidating. Sometimes, this can be more than we can bear so we make haste to cover up our lives with noise and distractions of many different sorts. But solitude, like all of the disciplines of the spirit, carries its risks. In solitude, we confront our own soul with its obscure forces and conflicts that escape our attention when we are interacting with others. – Dallas Willard, Spirit of the Disciplines

More on this discipline…
We Must Not Turn Silence And Solitude Into Works
Silence and Solitude contribute nothing to our justification as sinners. They are not works to be done to merit favor with God. Instead, they are exercises for presenting ourselves to the Lord and being open to His will for our lives.

Silence & Solitude Is Not Intended To Be An Enduring Way Of Life
As we noted in an earlier lesson, Silence and Solitude are Disciplines whereby we voluntarily abstain from time to time from natural desires for relationships, communication, and inter-action in order to relate more closely with the Lord Jesus, and to ourselves. Our pattern of solitude and silence should match that of Jesus – times of prayer in solitude and silence bore fruit in his life and ministry with others. 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. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Prayer and Journal

  1. Two times during the next week, find a quiet, comfortable place to get away from your normal “life” of work and ministry, where you will not be interrupted for 35-40 minutes. (not driving in your car – no phone, TV, music, etc.)
  2. Simply spend time talking with Jesus about whatever is on your heart, just as one good friend to another. (15 minutes)
  3. Spend time in silence. Begin with the prayer “Lord this time is Yours, use it as You will”, and then be open to the Spirit’s work. (15 minutes)
    Write one page about these two times of prayer. Include when and where you prayed, how many minutes you prayed, what happened each time, and your experience of yourself in the context of your relationship with God.