Silence & Solitude

Definition:

Solitude is the voluntary and temporal withdrawal from people, activity for spiritual purposes. 
Silence is the voluntary and temporal cessation of our own talking and the other man-made noise (radio, TV, CD, etc) for spiritual purposes. 
Key Verse:

" Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10

About Silence & Solitude:

Solitude is the voluntary and temporal withdrawal from people, activity for spiritual purposes. 
Silence is the voluntary and temporal cessation of our own talking and the other man-made noise (radio, TV, CD, etc) for spiritual purposes. This is totally unnatural for many Americans.

These two disciplines are the counter-balance to fellowship (or community). Without solitude and silence we become shallow. Without fellowship we become stagnant, vain or in despair. Both are important. Jim Eliot said, “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize 3 elements: nolise, hurry, crowds … satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” Anton Chekhov wrote a short story called “The Bet” where two people argue whether death or solitary confinement is a worse punishment. One of them takes up “the bet” (2 million rubles) and goes into solitary confinement for 15 years. They have no human contact. Meals are passed through. They can write letters, but receive none. They can request books, food or musical instruments they want. An incredible transformation happens to the man as he found a whole part of life he’d been missing.

Jesus regular went to solitary places alone (Luke 4:42, Luke 5:16); he went out alone overnight before picking the 12 apostles (Luke 6:12) and the HS specifically led Jesus into the desert alone for 40 days (Matt 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-14) where He went in “full of the Spirit” (Luke 4:1) and came out in “the power of the Spirit) (Luke 4:14). The three major figures of the OT, NT and Gospels (Moses, John the Baptist & apostle Paul) all were shaped and transformed by God through prolonged times of silence and solitude. Most leaders of church history had similar experiences.

There are many reasons besides our starting three verses to practice silence and solitude:

1. To hear the voice of God better (I Kings 19:11-13, Hab 2:1)
2. To express worship of God (Zeph 1:7, Hab 2:20)
3. To express faith in God (Ps 62:1-6; Isa 30:15)
4. To seek the salvation of the Lord (Lam 3:25-28)
5. To be physically & spiritually restored (Mark 6:30-31)
6. To regain spiritual perspective (Billy Graham)
7. To seek the will of God (Luke 6:12-13)
8. To learn to control the tongue

Some problems that may arise when approaching times of silence and solitude

1.  Make it a goal, not a law; politeness & civility allowed when encountering others
2. Fear of loneliness. Loneliness is actually from inner emptiness, while solitude is an inner fullness of God. Focus on God in solitude
    helps us break temporal loneliness. 
3. We see ourselves more clearly (and that can be quite ugly and frightening); we need to go through these times. The key is not to
    run or be surface, but cling to Jesus
4. It can threaten family & friends. Some people have become co-dependent on us so the idea we wouldn’t be there for their need is
    quite threatening. Important to break that. 
5. Dark night of the soul; there is a depression & spiritual dryness that sometimes comes on the most faithful. Don’t give up at these
    times; God has already put others around you to help

Places we can practice silence and solitude

1. Very short (3 minutes or less) – in lines, in elevator, pause for sunset, special times of thanks
2. Daily times (5 minutes or more) – simply go anywhere without interruption, take a deep breath and focus on God. Shower, walk, 
    turn off radio in car, woods, chair at night, look sky
3. Longer times (2 hours to days) – retreat, planning time, day for perspective

Practical Project:

Set aside TWO times of 5 minutes or more over the next week where you go to a “solitary place” and are simply silent before God. Focus on Him. Don’t go with an agenda. Do bring your thoughts back to God if they go too far astray! Then note your observations – What kind of things came to mind? What result did you see later? What observations did you make? How could this be of value to you in the future? We’ll share observations next week!