There is a fine line between the need for community and the importance of practicing Spiritual solitude in the life of a Christian. For most people living the busy life of a healthy 21st Century believer, it is difficult to find time alone. Others, myself included, prefer solitude to an unhealthy degree. How do we walk the line of this neglected Spiritual discipline as we learn to abide in Christ and be still?
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4 NASB)
What Is Spiritual Solitude?
We have been learning about the Spiritual disciplines necessary for every believer as we abide in Christ. What are the 7 Spiritual disciplines (let’s agree to disagree about there only being 7)? Among them are:
Often left out of the list is solitude. Spiritual solitude makes up the last skill we need while we learn to abide in Christ.
Related Post: 8 Ways To Abide in Christ Every Day
What Does Spiritual Solitude Mean?
The reason solitude is left out of the list of Spiritual disciplines is many-fold I believe. First, we misunderstand the difference between worldly solitude and Biblical solitude.
The definition of solitude is to be alone.
As we saw when we looked into John 15: 4 earlier we are called to abide in the vine, to stay connected to the vine. A branch cannot bear fruit in isolation. And so many people believe they must always be social, always be with other believers, in church, and all of that to avoid isolation.
Here I will note that solitude, when taken to the point of isolation long term is unhealthy for Christians. Isolation can stunt Spiritual growth. This is why we must be clear when we define Spiritual solitude.
What is the Biblical Meaning of Solitude?
If solitude is the act of being alone, the Spiritual solitude definition is to be apart from people to spend time listening for the voice of God.
Often when we think about religious solitude we picture nuns or monks. People who dedicate their entire lives to serving God must be the ones who need to get alone with Him often. This thinking is very sad.
When we look closer at Spiritual solitude, meaning that we apply it from a Biblical worldview we see it is needed by every single Christian.
Jesus took time to get away from the crows to be alone with God. Why shouldn’t we practice solitude as well?
Why is Silence and Solitude Important?
“the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
Our passage tells us to abide in the vine. I mentioned the need to balance community and solitude because it has to be balanced. We need each other, just as the roots in a garden are needed to support all the plants. But we also need to stay connected to God.
Related Post: 41 Powerful Bible Verses About Unity
Too Much Noise Makes Us Deaf to God
What I find in life is that life is noisy. In my stage of life, the house is full. Kids bicker, my husband gripes, the TV blares or the radio is on in the background. When we leave the radio is on in the car. Out and about others are chattering, there are announcements or music playing.
Noise is everywhere.
There are also always choices to be made. Some choices are simple and require little thought, but other choices are difficult and affect much. The noise makes it difficult to think, much less pray for God’s direction. And if He speaks into the noise and I am not accustomed to His voice I will miss the answer.Do you long to hear God's voice? Practice the discipline of Spiritual solitude to learn how. Silence and solitude are the key. Click To Tweet
The Spiritual Discipline of Silence
Silence is a companion of solitude. Solitude and silence work together in this last Spiritual discipline to help us practice listening.
We are becoming pros at talking to God, as prayer is becoming a habit that brings joy. Remember, however, that Christianity is not about having our way. No, Christianity is a relationship with God. Relationships grow when they work both ways.
We talk to God through prayer. He often talks back through meditating on His Word. But I will suggest that even that quiet time is often noisy and rushed. It is for me at times.
Solitude and silence help us listen for God’s still small voice. He wants to talk to you. Are you making time to listen?
Related Post: Why I Broke the Silence About Anxiety
Bible Verses About Solitude and Silence
All throughout the Bible, we see Scripture about solitude and silence. When God spoke it was often to those who were away from the crowds. What are examples of solitude? We see examples of solitude and silence in both the Old and New Testaments.
Old Testament Silence and Solitude
It was common for men of God to go away by themselves to be alone with God.
“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree.” 1 Kings 19:4 ESV)
We see a beautiful picture of the voice of God here. It does not often come as a loud demanding presence. Rather, the voice of God is often a gentle whisper.
“And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” (1 Kings 19:13 ESV)
Reminders to Show God Reverent Silence
So often in today’s culture, we feel we must always speak and speak our mind. People in the past knew God honors silence and reverence. In fact, they felt it more due to Him than our words.
“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20 ESV)
“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.” (Psalm 62:1 ESV)
“in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,” (Isaiah 30:15 ESV)
“Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near;” (Zachariah 1:7 ESV)
Jesus Solitude and Silence
We see much solitude and silence in the life of Jesus. It was His habit to get away and be alone with God.
“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” (Luke 5:16 ESV)
“In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12 ESV)
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray” (Matthew 14:23 ESV)
Time To Rest With God from Ministry
He also taught His disciples to spend time away from the crowds in ministry. We see a great lesson in this as a culture prone to burning out in ministry. Time away from serving helps us greatly.
“And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31 ESV)
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. ” (Matthew 17:1-2 ESV)
We also know that Jesus taught others to listen for His voice. We see that in the life of Mary, who Jesus allowed to stay and listen instead of serving. Another time we see it is when Jesus taught about having a secret place to pray.
“And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.” (Luke 10:39 ESV)
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 ESV)
New Testament Solitude
Even after Jesus returned to heaven we see the disciples and apostles continue to practice solitude. Solitude and silence are meant to be a part of the rhythm of our faith walk.
“I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.” (Galatians 1:17 ESV)
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20 ESV)
How Can I Practice Spiritual Solitude?
Now that we grasp the what and why of Spiritual solitude we must be practical about the how. We really do live in a busy, fast-paced world. Maybe solitude was easy to find in the past, but today you must be intentional. I have had to practice solitude with God.
Yes, you read that correctly. You may have to practice to achieve real solitude with God.
Related Post: 21 Bible Verses About Respecting Elders
How to Practice Solitude with God
How do you practice solitude?
- Make a plan.
- Be intentional.
- Push through fear.
Think about times and places where you can actually be alone in silence. Some practical ideas might include:
- Turn the radio off when alone in the car.
- Turn electronics off a few minutes before going to bed.
- Do not pick up electronics during the first few minutes of the morning.
Practice makes progress. You may find that silence drives you crazy.
At first, I could only stand 2 or 3 minutes of silence when I was alone with God. It felt like I was going to lose my mind. Slowly I increased that time.
Now, I can spend a few hours alone with God, listening and waiting for Him to speak into our relationship.
Progress is the goal. Start by practicing for a few moments to see how you do. Slowly plan more time alone in silence with God to see growth.
How Do I Get True Solitude?
Maybe an hour alone with God in solitude and silence doesn’t feel like enough for you. It doesn’t feel like true solitude.
Jesus often went off into the mountains, away from all humanity for periods of time. You may enjoy an Emmaus walk where there is structure and solitude for a day or two. Perhaps you would benefit from a night away, just you and God in a cabin or hotel or wherever.
In this season of life, I can’t afford to get away, so my husband takes the kids for a day and leaves me alone at home.
If you find that you are craving time alone with God, real-time in solitude and silence, you can make it happen. Where there is a will, there is a way!
The Power of Spiritual Solitude
As with all Spiritual disciplines, there is power in Spiritual solitude. Honestly, the power is that you grow closer to the Lord through time with Him. When you are able to quiet your mind, leave the noise of the world behind and listen for Him, you grow!
You grow in so many ways that it’s hard to list them. Abiding in solitude is one way we abide in the love of God with joy!
Related Post: Knowing God as a Loving Father
Solitude and Spiritual Growth
How do you grow in your faith through solitude?
- You learn to recognize the voice of God.
- There is discernment that comes more easily.
- You grow more in tune with God’s will.
- You long for more time with God.
- Peace washes over you.
- You understand His Word better.
- You crave time in His Word more.
- Confidence comes as you are certain you are walking in His will.
- Trust comes as you are certain you heard His voice.
The power of solitude and silence with God can not be overstated in the life of a Christian. The more we practice solitude the more we grow.
Fear Of Silence
Earlier I mentioned that there were many reasons we avoid or leave out this last Spiritual discipline. Misunderstanding what solitude with God is might be the focus of this piece, but it is not the only reason.
There is a real fear of the silence in our hearts today. We rarely spend time alone with our thoughts. We rarely process life fully without and distraction of noise and entertainment. There is a danger in that. We do not grow when we do not process life.
In the silence, I was faced with sin and failures and the pain of loss that I had been pushing down. I knew it was probably all there, waiting for silence… but I’d rather avoid the pain. Can you relate?
Don’t be afraid, dear friend. God is also waiting in the silence. He longs to hear your heart, to mend your brokenness, to help you process and heal and grow. You will not be alone in the silence so there is really no need to be afraid.
Don’t Overdo Solitude
The topic of solitude is tricky. Earlier, we learned that community is critical for Spiritual growth. We need other Christians in our lives on a regular basis. We need it. You need it.
We also need time alone with God. The caution I have to give is to carefully balance the needs for community and solitude. The more time alone with God you have, the more you may crave time alone with God. Depending on the season of life you are in, it is tempting to take that time when you ought to be gathering at church.
That is the struggle I walk with. Maybe you think I’m crazy. Maybe you can’t imagine ever craving solitude and silence with God. Just start practicing it and see if you don’t begin to deeply desire time in His presence… It is the most satisfying time…
Resources to Grow in Solitude and Silence
Okay, so I gave you some ideas about how to start practicing solitude, but it can be challenging. Let me share some more tools and resources to help you get started. I know this Spiritual discipline is counter-cultural – more so than all the rest – but it will be well worth the investment.
- Journaling Bibles
- Reading Plans
Spiritual Solitude Books
These are books that influenced me about the topic of solitude. They are classic and inspiring.
- When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado
- God’s Story by Anne Graham Lotz
- The Path of Loneliness: Finding Your Way Through the Wilderness to God by Elisabeth Elliot
Bible Journaling for Solitude
Solitude and silence are beautiful, but just sitting still with God is hard. I find I often need to be in the Bible, with a journal in hand. So Often I will keep a journaling Bible with me and a set of coloring pens or pencils. While I am waiting I will meditate on a verse by coloring or doodling.
A prayer journal is a must for times of solitude. Some people prefer to walk with God and listen for Him in nature. I enjoy that as well which is why I keep a variety of journals in all sizes. Ones small enough to fit in my pocket and some as large as my Bible.
A journal is a great tool for times of solitude because you will want to remember what God shared with you during your time together.
I live on a budget so I created a very inexpensive journal you can print and reprint! A simple way to pray makes me happy! The Strategic Prayer Journal is super simple and easy to use and it is in my main prayer tool box!
If you have the budget for a bit more in a prayer journal I highly recommend the Let God and Let God Prayer Bundle! Here at Hope Joy in Christ, we believe in the power of adding scripture to prayer for powerful spiritual warfare!
Scripture Reading Plans
If Bible journaling is not your thing, I find it good to have a Scripture reading plan on hand. More than likely there is something very specific you are asking God to speak to you about. Why not have a list of verses on that topic to read through while you wait?
Often, God will speak to me through His Word in a fresh way while I am silent and still before Him.
Some free Scripture reading plans in the Resources Library:
- 40 Days to Overcome Anxiety
- 30 Days to Hope in Marriage
- 100 Verses about Unity, Finances and Peace
- 14 Days to Understand 1 Corinthians Love
- 40 Days to Be Still and Know God More
But the add-on of the Praying the Promises of the Cross Kit is worth the small investment. This is a reading and journaling plan that incorporates guided prayer to help you better connect with Jesus.
This is one of my favorite prayer resources!
Spiritual Solitude Quotes
Times of solitude can try your mind. It helps me to keep a few encouraging quotes about solitude and silence in my journal to refer back to.
“We live in a world starved for solitude and silence and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” ~ C.S. Lewis
“The heart which has no agenda but God’s is the heart at leisure from itself. Its emptiness is filled with the Love of God. Its solitude can be turned into prayer.” ― Elisabeth Elliot
A Prayer To Abide in Christ Through Solitude and Silence
Forgive me for always turning away from You to the noise of entertainment. Help my heart be strong enough to endure some silence. Teach my soul to crave time alone with You. I long to abide in Christ more fully. Give me the strength and endurance to run this race with grace and endurance.
Will You Practice Spiritual Solitude and Silence with God Today?
There is great power in Spiritual solitude and silence. Nearness to God and the ability to quickly recognize and follow His voice are among my favorite. But, this discipline only comes to those who purpose to intentionally practice time alone.
Will you choose to grow in faith today?
What are your hesitations?
Can I pray over you in this journey?
in HIS love,
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