Learn More about Silence & Solitude
The Scriptures repeatedly show us that Jesus was purposeful and intentional in making time to be alone with God. Think about that. If Jesus (the Son of God!) needed to get away from the chaos and noise of life…how much more do we?
Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He was alone in the wilderness for forty days (Matthew 4:1).
After feeding the five thousand (an amazing miracle!), Jesus “went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23).
Before he began preaching in Galilee: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed) (Mark 1:35).
After healing many and having more people beg for his touch: “Early the next morning, Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them” (Luke 4:42).
Some interesting things to note about Jesus’ times of silence and solitude:
- He began his ministry with a long period of silence and solitude.
- He often needed silence and solitude after the demands of teaching, healing, and performing miracles.
- He knew He needed intimacy with His Father to care for His soul and prepare for the cross.
- He prioritized getting away and alone with God even though His time on earth was short.
- We cannot miss the significance and example of our greatest role model!
He was not rigid, formulaic, or uncaring to those around Him. He knew that intimacy with God was the only way He could do what God called Him to do.
In her book, Finding Focus in a Whirlwind World, Jean Fleming explains our struggle with silence and solitude:
We live in a noisy, busy world. Silence and solitude are not twentieth-century words…We have become a people with an aversion to quiet and an uneasiness with being alone. – Jean Fleming, Finding Focus in a Whirlwind World
This rings true for many of us. Think about what we do to fill the void when there is no noise or we are alone:
- Immediately reach for the radio when we are driving in the car.
- Put on our headphones when we are at the gym or out for a walk.
- Listen to a podcast or turn on the TV while doing chores.
- Take phone calls while running errands alone.
Advances in technology have made it possible for us never to be without some kind of voice filling the quiet and empty spaces in our lives.
I think we are uncomfortable with the practice of silence and solitude because we think of them in these terms:
Silence = The complete absence of noise
Solitude = The state of being utterly alone
But embracing the spiritual discipline of silence and solitude is not necessarily about being completely quiet or absolutely alone…although both may be part of the process.
It is about subtraction instead of addition. Silence and solitude allow us to remove things from our lives to make room for God.
Instead of thinking about this spiritual discipline in terms of what it is… try thinking about what it is not.
- Don’t think about doing something…embrace doing nothing.
- Don’t create an agenda or to-do list…create space instead.
- Don’t force this time to come…allow it to flow naturally.