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January 17, 2021 | Chris Baselice
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Silence and solitude . . .
Those words have been pretty foreign to me for most of my life. It seems as though the world we live in today deems such a practice as impractical or a waste of time, but our souls seem to say otherwise.
The search for peace and quiet is seen in various ways from practicing yoga meditation to taking personal time off to hiding in a closet to get a few minutes away from the crazy kids! When we seek peace and quiet, we are really seeking the nourishment our souls can only receive from biblical silence and solitude.
What does that mean though? Despite growing up in the church, I did not realize silence and solitude was actually a spiritual discipline until about a year ago! With the chaos 2020 brought in, coupled with graduating high school and starting college, God opened my eyes to better understand what silence and solitude really mean.
Silence is a state void of noises and distractions, and solitude is a state of being alone without disturbances. On its own, practicing silence and solitude is certainly beneficial, yet only when it is practiced with the purpose of being with God will we experience its full and holy impact on our souls.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus made this practice a part of His daily routine. Oftentimes, Jesus would wake up early in the morning and go “to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35 NIV). After hearing the news of John the Baptist’s execution, “He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13 NIV) and also “withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:15 NIV) after feeding the five thousand. He encouraged His apostles to do the same saying, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31 NIV). Luke also testified saying that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16 NIV).
What Does It Look Like to Be with God in Silence and Solitude?
Many times throughout the past few months, there were instances where I felt so overwhelmed that all I could do was spend time alone with the Lord in silence. At first, I felt guilty about not knowing what to say or read, but soon I realized that my loss for words was a blessing from God because it forced me into extended periods of silence and solitude in His presence! It was in those times that I began to feel His peace, remember His promises, hear His voice, and fill my cup with praise and joy!
Jesus’ times of silence and solitude with the Lord took place in His prosperity and in His difficulty. It served as His source of rest and strength just like it should serve us! Whether He decided to pray or remain quiet during those times, He always spent them with the Father.
Oftentimes, we can mistakenly think that being alone with God means we must hear from Him or pray to Him, but that is not the promise nor the command of God regarding silence and solitude. His promise is that we will find rest for our souls in His presence as we obey His command to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)!
When I first made an effort to spend time in silence and solitude with the Lord, it felt uncomfortable. Perhaps the reason we do not talk about or practice this discipline regularly is because it carries a certain degree of awkwardness, uncertainty, and surrender. We are faced with our inward thoughts which can often be dark or scary, and we feel exposed as we sit before the Lord who knows all and sees all. However, it is in this place that we can finally pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24 NIV).
You see, friends, spending time with God in silence and solitude does not come with a handbook or a formula. The answer to the question “What does it look like to be with God in silence and solitude” is not clear cut. There are various ways to approach our time alone with God and various outcomes as well. Sometimes, we may hear God’s “gentle whisper” like Elijah did in 1 Kings 19:12. Sometimes, we may choose to meditate on a certain passage of Scripture or on the names of God. Other times, we may feel His peace flood our souls, be convicted of sin, or realign our hearts with His love and grace.
Regardless of what it looks like though, we should make it a priority to be alone with our Lord and Savior because He is our Abba Father and our friend (Romans 8:15; John 15:15). In the same way that we can simply delight in the presence of our father or our close friends without saying a word, we should intentionally spend time alone with God to simply delight in His gracious and glorious presence as well!