Spiritual Disciplines // SILENCE AND SOLITUDE
I (Donia) grew up in the glow of a television set. The TV was on all the time: in the morning before school, after school and late into the evening. Often the light from our TV was the only light on in the house. The sounds of Star Trek, Mad TV, Thundercats, and so many others permeated my existence. Silence was a rare commodity.
When I became a stay at home mom, I noticed my natural discomfort with silence. I found myself leaving the TV on as I went about my day alone with just a little baby to care for. It was comforting to hear the voices of Regis and Kelly instead of the quiet of our home.
Silence is not necessarily comfortable.
Today our devotion focuses on the disciplines of silence and solitude: two companion pursuits that usher in an opportunity to encounter God away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney states,
“The advent of affordable, portable sound systems…has been a mixed blessing. The negative side is that now we don’t have to go anywhere without human voices. As a result we are less frequently alone with our thoughts and God’s voice. Because of this, and because we are the most urban, noise-polluted generation ever, we have an unprecedented need to learn the Disciplines of silence and solitude.”Donald, Whitney – Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian LIfe
His book was published in 1991.
In our era of iPods, tablets, wireless earbuds, smart phones, and Alexas, we have to be more intentional than ever about allowing for moments of silence and solitude to invade our spaces.
Jesus modeled this well. Matthew 14:23:
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples got back into the boat and crossed to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there ALONE.Matthew 14:33 NLT
In the midst of a budding ministry (he had just fed thousands of people-ministering to them for hours), Jesus left it all behind to be alone with his Heavenly Father. He allowed silence and solitude to invade his space.
This past Sunday, Pastor Isaac talked about how the narrative of the empire is laced with scarcity, fear, greed and violence. This is the noise in which we live. But the narrative of the kingdom is abundance, trust, generosity, and peace. As we give space for silence and solitude, we can become acclimated to God’s ways in a new and fresh way-away from the noise of our culture.
Take 5-10 minutes of silence and solitude. You may need to go into a dark room, lay down and close your eyes. Disengage from your worries, from your relationships, from your tasklist. Place your hands in front of you to represent your willingness to receive. Invite the Holy Spirit by praying this prayer:
“Holy Spirit, I make myself available to you. I quiet my heart and mind and I ask that you would speak.”
Then quietly wait before the Lord. You may find yourself distracted. You might not make it the full 5 minutes without having your mind wander. That’s okay! If you are struggling, come back to this phrase in your mind: “God is faithful.” As you find your brain wanting to pull focus, whisper the phrase and redirect your attention to quietude.
Be kind to yourself. It won’t be perfect. Like any discipline, it takes commitment over time to become proficient.