Should I practice silence and solitude?

Should I practice silence and solitude?


– The discipline of silence is a voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual
goals might be sought. These goals might be to pray silently. These goals might be to
just be able to focus on the Bible, but in this time of silence, so to speak, I’m not talking
about silencing the mind. There’s a lot of this kind
of language in the culture about when you’re alone
and you’re seeking silence, get inner silence, I don’t
think that’s possible. I think there’s usually
some self-talk going on, and talking with God. It may not be outward,
but you can’t not think, as some would advocate. Solitude is a temporary
and voluntary withdrawal to privacy for spiritual purposes. You get alone in order to
focus on the Scripture, to get alone in order to
pray without distractions, you get alone in order
to read or just to think or write in a journal. Some would say, well,
they’re not disciplines in and of themselves, they are occasions or situations we place ourselves in in order to practice other disciplines. And I’m fine with that. We have referred to these
sometimes in Christian language as our quiet time, and if people say, “Oh, “that sounds kind of quaint,” great, call it your time of time of silence and solitude, if you want. It’s the same idea that we
all need to be alone with God. I may have spoken about my grandfather. When he and my grandmother
married back in March of 1919, he would go out to the
fields with a bucket of water in one hand and his lunch in another, and the only sounds he heard
all day were the sounds that he made or God’s creation made. So the sounds of him singing,
the sound of the mule mashing the earth in front of him, the sound of the plow
tearing up the ground, the sound of the birds in the treelines, that’s all he heard all day. There’s no planes flying over, there’s no tractors in nearby fields, there’s no cars bumping
along on the dirt roads. It was quiet all the time. And my grandmother,
back in the farm house, before the kids came
along, the only sounds that she heard all day were
the sounds she made working around the kitchen or the
sounds of God’s creation through the open window. There was no electricity
there at that time, so there’s no air conditioner hum, there’s no television,
which hadn’t been invented, there’s no radio, there’s
no refrigerator hum, there’s no electrical hum of any kind. It was quiet all the time. So culture helped them in
terms of being alone with God. If they had read their
Bible and chose to meditate on Scripture, they could do so
all day without distraction. Now, culture hurt them in
terms of godly learning. I don’t even know if they were able to go to borrow a book from a library somewhere. To do so, they had to hitch up a team, take the bumpy wagon ride into town, which they would do on Saturday afternoons and to church on Sunday, but
the only news they ever got, the only music they ever heard was live. Now, two generations later, in my life, that’s completely reversed. I am never anywhere without sound, video. I have on my phone incredible
amounts of information and music and videos, and through it, if I’m connected to the internet,
unlimited YouTube videos, and on and on and on, we
all know about all that. That’s a great benefit,
that’s a great blessing. You want to learn today? Oh, my grandparents
would have been envious at the opportunities to learn. But we need to realize that for us, there’s a great need for
silence and solitude. It’s never been harder for
any generation in history to experience that. And so we’ve become accustomed to that. I fly a lot, people get on the airplane with their earbuds already in. And in one sense you could say, well, they’re seeking solitude, but
they’re listening to music in doing so, they’re
not plugging their ears, they’re listening to podcasts or music. And that’s a great opportunity. But it leads to the kind of situation where we can’t be in our
own apartment or home without the television
on, without music on. We can’t read the Bible without
having some music going. And I would argue that
that’s just not healthy. Did you know five times in the Gospels the Bible says Jesus got alone with God? And if He needed that,
I think we do as well. Jesus is our example of walking with God. He’s much more than our example,
let’s be clear about that. He’s our Lord, our Savior,
our King, our Creator, our Judge, our Substitute, our Friend, but He’s not less than our
example of walking with God. And five times we’re told
He got alone with God. And so we need that as much
as any generation ever. Let me briefly suggest some practical tips for experiencing silence and
solitude before the Lord. One very practical one
for me is to consecrate the occasional minute
retreats, I call them, we have opportunities
for almost every day. When these happen a lot
for me are in the car. I get to some intersection
and I just missed the light, and I know it’s a long light and I get so frustrated by that. Well, being frustrated and angry is not going to make the
light change any sooner. If it’s a 90 second or two minute light, I’m not going to change a second
off of that by being anxious. So as the Puritans used
to say, improve it, improve that moment, and just say, okay, instead of being frustrated,
I’m going to pronounce this a one minute or 90 second retreat. God has given me a time where
I can’t do anything productive rather than checking my
phone at the intersection, just consecrate this a minute retreat, turn off the music or the podcast, and just enjoy silence,
just enjoy being before God and just briefly pray during that time. That’s kind of an ongoing discipline that keeps as a reminder
as much as anything. But it also helps us
make ourselves conscious, God is present right here in this car, in this place, at this busy intersection. And we need those healthy reminders. That’s kind of part of what it means to pray without ceasing, this constant mindfulness of prayer, constant attitude of
prayer that we’re never more than a moment away from
prayer, even in a busy day. And there are other opportunities, I suppose, during the day. You’re waiting in line
maybe at a drive-thru, at a coffee shop or at a fast food place or at the bank, that
can be an opportunity. Or picking up a prescription and you wish the line would move, it is not moving. Well, okay, improve that rather than just sit there and be angry. Another practical thing I
think is very, very important, as much as any, is to set a goal of a daily time of silence and solitude. In the old days we used
to say a daily quiet time. Some people find that quaint. Okay, call it your daily
time of silence and solitude. But a goal every day, I’m going to try to spend some time alone with God, not just the moments in
the car at the intersection or in the drive-thru. I can say in a lifetime
of being in the church, and about a quarter century
of pastoral ministry, I have never known
anyone I considered godly who did not have this goal, not a person. Every day they sought to be alone with God for some extended period of time. Maybe extended is five minutes. They would seek for more
than that, but every day, in other words, just
some time in the Bible and prayer every single day. As routine as that may
sound, but it’s just like someone telling you you
need to eat healthy. You may hear that 10,000
times in your lifetime, but it never becomes less true. You can’t eat junk food all
the time and be healthy. And the same is true
with food for your soul. As our body generally
needs food every day, so our soul needs food every day. So don’t overlook that,
that is maybe something that’s almost so mundane
it’s almost quaint, but it is essential, and
I’ve never known anyone, and you’re not going to
have any spiritual hero who would not say, “Every day I set a goal “of being alone with
God,” because it expresses a longing for God, it’s not
some legalistic routine. I want to spend time with God. This is the heartbeat of my life. But I’ve discovered I’m so busy
if I don’t discipline myself to set pretty much a standard time, that at this point in my day every day I’m going to try to do
that, you just won’t have the communion with God,
the growth in grace that you otherwise would. Here’s the third one, try
to get away for some time. Not just in the home,
though that’s foundational, that’s basic, but to get
away on a regular basis for some we’ll call it extended times of silence and solitude. Now maybe it’s just to take
a walk in your neighborhood or in the nearby park,
but it’s the time that when it’s convenient,
the weather is right, it’s a little more than your
daily devotional time perhaps, and it’s in a different environment. There’s something about the freshness of being outdoors maybe, or
just in a different place that can invigorate a little bit, can add to the experience. And I would even, to go
to the other extreme, maybe find a retreat place you can go to for half a day or a day sometimes. But I know that’s a
drawback for some people because they say, “Look,
I’ve got to find a place, “I’ve got to make a reservation,”
maybe you have to pay. Yeah, I understand that,
if you can do it, great. But you know what is
often overlooked I think for a lot of our people, your
own local church building. Most local church
buildings mostly sit empty all week long during the day. So for most of the people watching this, that building is probably
not that far away, it would be free, it would
be safe in most cases, and they just maybe
hadn’t thought about that. There are places you can go,
it’s got restroom facilities, maybe it has kitchen facilities,
if you need to do that, if you’re going to be there
for a long period of time. So don’t overlook going
to your local church, or maybe very near to
you is another church and they’d be happy to
make it available to you. I saw a church one time
when I lived in another city I thought had a great ministry. Every Thursday from 10 til 12:00 AM they provided childcare for
mothers of young children to come and have time alone with God. I’m sure a lot of them
just went in and took a nap for a period of time. They couldn’t leave, it
wasn’t just childcare so you can go to the mall, you had to stay on the church building,
but you had up to two hours of silence and solitude with the Lord. I thought that was one
of the most imaginative and most useful ministries to the people I ever saw from a church. Let me suggest one other practical tip. Some people are watching this and saying, “I desperately need some
silence and solitude, “but you’re killing me,
I need it so desperately, “but the only solitude I ever get is “when I lock the door of the bathroom, “and even then they’re beating on the door “going, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,
the whole time that I’m there. “You’re killing me, what can I do?” I’ve seen this to be very workable. You’ve got two moms that are friends, and they both have the kids, go together let’s say at 10:00 to the church building. One mom watches all the
kids from 10 til 12, or from 11 to 12, then at
noon everybody eats together, then from one to two or from one to three, the other mom has time alone with God. So by providing a trade
off, both benefit from that. Or maybe a husband and wife
can do this on a Saturday. Go up to the church building,
one babysits for a while, then you eat together,
and then you swap off and the other does that. But with some sort of trade
off system with somebody, I think generally where
there’s a will there’s a way. So I would just encourage
you to follow the example of Jesus and so many others in the Bible and countless Christians
throughout church history to regularly pursue time alone with God. Nothing else can substitute for that. Now, the same is true with the church, that nothing can take the place of that. You can have the greatest devotional life, the greatest time alone with
God of any Christian in history but you still need the local church. There are experiences
with God you will only get from God with His people
and with the local church. But there are a lot of
people who are very faithful to their local church but who never spend anything as a complement
to that alone with God. There are experiences with God you will only get alone with God. But both of these must be intentional. Both of them are disciplines. And I want to encourage
those watching this to experience God through both of them. (music) – [Narrator] Thanks for
watching Honest Answers. Don’t forget to subscribe. (music)

13 thoughts on “Should I practice silence and solitude?

  • Thank you for the wisdom sir. I initially recoiled when I saw the video title, because it sounded exactly like the Eastern idea of emptying the mind. But I appreciate your point that we actually have little experience with true silence and solitude in today’s world. This is certainly a goal worthy of pursuit, in order to not empty the mind, but actually contemplate and think about God’s grace and truth even more!

  • Amen, preacher. If we have a family member that we don't have time for, that family member KNOWS he's not loved. It must be the same with God.

  • This is great! I called it "my check out time". I've done solitude and prayer with God since I've been very young.

  • This is so true. I’ve made a habit of keeping ear plugs with me so that when I want that quiet time with God, I can block out the noise of modern life with silence instead of music. God bless you, sir.

  • The Bible commands us to be of "sound mind":

    "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Tim 1:7) (NKJV).

    Read God's Word daily, pray & fellowship with Christ followers. Amen

  • As a regional, OTR truckdriver I’m hearing noises 24 hrs a day basically. But, occasionally I’ll turn off the podcasts, radio, etc and just meditate on the Word of GOD, or maybe think on things that I need to improve (or more like surrender to Him most times) in my life. I drove for about 3 hrs straight one day just last week without anything “playing” in my ear. I think would be a great idea to at least spend an hour (or more if possible) each day in silence.

  • I live alone in the country so in this reguard I'm extremly blessed, and less than 100 feet off a busy highway but I like to fix my breakfast and go to the sunroom and listen to the birds singing. It isn't heated so it isn't an option this time of the year, but spring isn't really that far away.

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