Discipleship: Silence and Solitude


Introduction

In today’s world a wide range of impulses bombards us. We have radios in our homes, in our offices, and in our cars. Our homes have access to scores of television channels and videos. There are games and computers and the internet. There are more magazines, newspapers and books than we could ever read. People, sounds and things are everywhere we go.

Dr. Richard Peace writes, “The spiritual disciplines keep us alert to the presence of God.” He continued that “the spiritual disciplines are a way of learning to hear again; a way to respond positively to God.” Does it seem that God has been pushed out by the sensory overload from our surroundings?

Where do you go, or, what do you do to unwind when you have had one of those hectic days? Why do you find this to be of comfort?

Scriptural theme: Luke 5:15-16; 6:12-13

Consider three or four of the following discussion items regarding the scriptural theme and the disciplines of silence and solitude:

  • Why are references like these recorded in the Gospels?
  • Do you think Jesus was strengthened by his time on the mountain? If so, how?
  • Do people in today’s world find it difficult to find “quiet time?” What are things that can either hinder or encourage this type of quality time?
Silence is the way to make solitude a reality.– Henry Nouwen

It is said that solitude is a fundamental discipline. Can something really be learned from spending time alone, from taking time in silence and solitude?

According to Richard Foster, “Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment, [and it] is more a state of mind and heart than it is a place.” What are your thoughts on this perspective?

Language has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone, and the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.— Paul Tillich

Shut thy door upon thee and call to thee Jesus thy love; dwell with him in thy cell for thou shalt not find elsewhere so great peace.

— Thomas a Kempis

As individuals, take a few quiet minutes during the meeting to reread the theme passages silently. What is God saying to you in these passages?

Sometimes people will withdraw from their normal surroundings when searching for a quiet place. How can this be beneficial?

Challenge for growth

  1. During your prayers, spend some time in silence to focus on God’s nature and what he may be saying to you.
  2. In the coming weeks, schedule a period of time away from all the distractions in your daily life. Schedule a time of solitude.
  3. Pray that God will lead you as you practice the disciplines of silence and solitude.

We have outlined two popular lists of disciplines as compiled by Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. The theme Discipline of Grace has been the focus of other authors, and has also been included in our series.

Dallas Willard Richard Foster
Disciplines of Abstinence Inward Disciplines
Solitude Meditation
Silence Prayer
Fasting Fasting
Frugality Study
Chastity
Secrecy Outward Disciplines
Sacrifice Simplicity
Solitude
Disciplines of Engagement Submission
Study Service
Worship
Celebration Corporate Disciplines
Service Confession
Prayer Worship
Fellowship Guidance
Confession Celebration
Submission

Author: Charles Albrecht

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