discipline

4 Reasons to Practice Silence and Solitude

  • 31 January 2018
  • Randy Wollf

woman looking at oceanWe’ve all experienced the awkwardness of silence. Think about the silence we experience at a dinner party when the conversation falls flat or the confining silence of a long elevator ride in a half-full elevator.

The commands, “Be quiet” or “Shut up,” are often punitive attempts to stop words—to enforce silence in another person.

If silence has a bad rap, solitude hasn’t done much better. If you have too much solitude, you’re a loner, outsider, or maybe even an outcast. Being sent to one’s room or a lengthy period of solitary confinement are punishments meant to instill the wrongness of an action.

Silence and solitude are certainly associated with negative connotations. Yet, there must also be an upside since Jesus regularly practiced both disciplines.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus went to isolated places by himself to pray (Mark 1:35). At times, huge crowds followed Jesus. The ministry opportunities were endless. Yet, “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (Luke 5:16). Prayerful silence and solitude were a regular part of Jesus’ life. Busyness and a growing ministry did not distract Jesus from these important disciplines.

If the Son of God chose to practice silence and solitude as a necessary part of his life and ministry, it would seem wise for us to do the same. If the end goal of practicing silence and solitude is to glorify God by loving Him more deeply and serving Him more effectively, then a God-honoring silence and solitude will do at least four things:

1. Leads Us Deeper in Our Relationship with Christ

We need to slow down – to find spaces where we can hear God’s voice. “Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (Psalm 46:10).

Judy Brown says, “What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space.” We, too, need breathing spaces – places where we can examine our lives and allow the Holy Spirit to counsel, comfort and even convict. We need spaces where we can pray without interruptions or distractions—a daunting challenge if you’re the parent of a toddler!

Without these seasons of silence and solitude, the fire of spiritual passion within our souls begins to diminish. However, when we practice these disciplines in God-honoring ways, we stoke the fires of spiritual passion—the passion and commitment we need to truly live as vibrant and fruitful followers of Jesus.

Using a Rule of Life to Support Your Spiritual Growth

  • 9 December 2016
  • Randy Wollf

Plant growing up trellisOver the centuries, Christians have used a Rule of Life to support their spiritual growth. A Rule of Life is an intentional plan to deepen our relationship with God and to receive more from Him (e.g. strength, wisdom) so that we can love and serve Him more effectively.

In his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero describes 12 aspects of a Rule of Life. I invite you to consider what you are currently doing in each of these areas and then to prayerfully discern how God might have you strengthen some of them. You may want to use the Rule of Life Worksheet as you read through the descriptions of each of the areas.

Scripture

How are you currently engaging with Scripture? Perhaps, you attend a worship service at your church or participate in a small group Bible study. I have a Bible Reading Plan app on my phone that takes me through the Bible in a year. Some have found that life journaling is an effective way of capturing what God is saying through a passage. We want to engage with Scripture in such a way that we hear from God, remember, and apply what He has said throughout the day (see Random Order: Read, Memorize and Study).

Silence/Solitude

Judy Brown has said, “What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space.” Silence and solitude can create these breathing spaces, which allow us to listen to God, to discern His leading and to respond wisely and courageously.

Prayer

I like to go on prayer walks each morning. For me, it’s a great way to get alone with God for a while. I will also periodically do longer prayer retreats (see Five Reasons to Go on a Prayer Retreat). Increasingly, I want to develop a lifestyle of prayer where I naturally worship, give thanks, and petition God throughout the day.

Study

This Rule of Life element refers to intentional study of a specific topic. Lifelong learning is so important for helping us grow in our capacity to serve God more effectively.