Silence and Solitude

I can hardly believe we are at week 6 of this study!  Last night at our small group we all agreed that out of all of the weeks, this week may be the hardest.  Being silent to pursue God is different than being silent so I can think or plan.  I’m excited to see how God draws me to Himself in greater ways this week!

 

Week 6: Silence and Solitude

In quietness and trust is your strength Isaiah 30:15

“By periodically distancing ourselves from schedules, noises, and crowds, we become less captivated by the demands and expectations of others and more captivated by the purposes of God.  In this way, we measure and define ourselves in terms of what God thinks rather than what people think..” -Kenneth Boa

Silence involves learning to keep our mouth quiet while solitude is simply abstaining from people’s company.  Both these disciplines were seen multiple times through Jesus’ ministry on earth.  He began his ministry by retreating to the desert for 40 days.  He spent the night alone in the hills before He began choosing His disciples. He fed the 5000 and then he retreated to pray.  Over and over again we see Jesus retreating into solitude and silence so that He can communicate and listen to God.  If Jesus saw the need for time away, we can definitely understand the importance of practicing solitude and silence.

Silence is defined as setting aside regular times to be quiet and always involves the act of listening.  This could be as little as 10 minutes a day or as much as a whole month!  This type of silence is simply a time for us to quiet the thoughts that seem to shout at us during the day and listen to God.

But silence doesn’t just have to be in time increments.  We can also practice situational silence.  Situational silence teaches us how to speak in moderation.  This involves making an effort to control your tongue and simply be silent instead of having the last word in a discussion,  or making sure our opinion is heard, or interrupting others to tell our thoughts, or even silencing the mind and truly paying attention to what others are saying.   Situational silence is an excellent way to learn wisdom about when to speak and when to hold your tongue.

Both solitude and silence are essential as we pursue Christ simply because it quiets our soul and gets us out of the way so we can begin to hear God.  Richard Foster describes solitude as “inner fulfillment”.

And don’t get stuck thinking that solitude is a place you must go to!  Solitude is more of a state of mind and heart than it is a place.  Once you learn to quiet your heart and mind, you can practice solitude anywhere!

 

Activity #1: Discovering Our Fears

  • Spend time praying and asking God to reveal any fears you may have about being alone.  Are you lonely, afraid of losing control, feeling helpless when you don’t speak, afraid of what others will think of you if you don’t speak?  Are these fears driving you to pursue crowds and noise instead of time with God?  Talk with God about your fears and surrender them to Him.  Ask Him to teach you how to be alone and silent and learn to trust Him more.

 

Activity #2: Taking Advantage of the Small Moments

  • Take “little” steps into solitude today.  The few moments when you wake up but before you get out of bed, quiet your mind and heart before God.  The drive to work, shut the radio off and enjoy the silence and solitude of your car. The few moments when all the kids mouths are full of food and they are quiet, enjoy the few minutes of silence.  There are many little moments of silence throughout the day that we often miss.  Make an effort to find those moments today and use them to quiet yourself before the Lord.

 

Activity #3: Situational Silence

  • Think through the idea of situational silence.  Do you have a tendency or feel the need to always state your opinion?  Do you find yourself not really listening when others are talking?  Spend a few quiet moments with the Lord and ask Him to reveal to you areas where you need to practice situational silence.

  • Then all day long, make an effort to only speak when ABSOLUTELY necessary.   At the end of the day, journal your thoughts and feelings as you held your tongue.  Was it freeing?  Did it make you feel helpless?  Try doing this activity every day this week and see if your feelings and thoughts change as the week progresses.

Activity #4: Extended Solitude

  • Find 1-3 hours this week where you can escape from all people and responsibilities.  Turn your phone off and simply be still before the Lord.  It may feel uncomfortable and awkward at first because we have programmed ourselves to need noise and constant communication, but don’t give up!

  • Write down your dreams and goals for the next week, month, or year.  Talk to God about those dreams and listen for His voice as you seek refreshment in His presence.

 

Wow. It's Quiet Here...

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