Is the Discipline of Solitude Working in You?
Principle Scriptures on the Discipline of Solitude: Psalm 4:7; 46; 130; Habakkuk 2:20; Matthew 5:8 6: 4-7; Mark 3:13; 6:31-32, 46; Luke 6:12; John 3:30; Galatians 1:13-17
- How do I exhibit a life of Solitude in my daily life now?
- How can I develop the willingness to be more disciplined as one who is faithfully listens to Christ as LORD?
- What blocks Solitude from working and being exhibited in me?
- How can I initiate Solitude, and discipline myself to carry it out?
- What can I do to make Solitude function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainty and stress?
- Here are positive examples from Scripture: 1 Kings 19:11-13; Neh. 1:1-4; Psalm 42:7; 62:1-2; Hab. 2:1; 2:20; Zeph. 1:7; Matt. 11:15; 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42; Acts 9:7-9; Gal. 1:15-16
- Here are negative examples from Scripture: Ex. 6:12; Lev. 26:14-20; Job 32:1-5; Psalm 81:11-12; Prov. 12:23; 13:3; Jer. 44: 15-18; Ezek. 33:30-33; Amos 8:11; Heb. 12:25-27
The Discipline of Solitude is the practice of our "waiting for God" to act and complete His will, so our focus is on Him and then He fills us. This is an aspect of private prayer and worship, but instead of doing the talking we cling to Christ in silence and do the listening. This means we still ourselves to hear what God has to say. This is about our willingness to be examined by God, to hear His voice and see His call because we have moved anything that is in the way of Him. This is best served when we understand God's holiness and pause and have expectancy as His faithful, as if we are waiting for the sentence rendered by a jury or judge. But the sentence is great for they will see God! For this to happen we must still our rashness and busyness so the center of our being, our mind, will and emotions is focused on Christ and His will. Our will and desires are the things that have all of our attention and direction that need to be quieted before our Holy Lord so He can fill us up. It is all about Him and not about me! In this way, The Holy Spirit can motivate and also examine our attitudes, to see if there is room, (and there should be lots of it) for improvement in our relationships with both God and those around us!
What Solitude is not is continue to be in isolation, because Christianity, its practice is to be in community. We only isolate ourselves for reprove and correction and for rest, to get right before Christ and focus on Him before we challenge others to get right with Him. If we become monks and remain in solitude and or cut ourselves off from others, we miss the point of not only Solitude but being a mature Christian (Eph. 4:16). Solitude is also not about instant gratification, as with discipleship, it is a life long pursuit and takes time and builds.
The misuses of Discipline of Solitude or Silence have been many and have led people astray or to focus on the wrong things. Many monks through the centuries have focused on Solitude and Silence to the detriment of the commands and call of Christ Himself. The monastic movement has been a great help to us to center and focus and be a place for retreats and a time away but not as a sole profession. Even in the present day and emerging churches see this practice as entering some form of silence to listen for the "still, small voice" taking Psalm 46 and changing it. "Be still" means to focus on God and surrender to Him, not to empty ourselves. Nor is it a breathing exercise, or a skewed, meditative vehicle that takes us away from Christ rather the Discipline of Solitude is to bring us closer in our center of attention upon Him as LORD. Thus, these skewed practices push us away from gaining good and biblical understanding and insight.
The Discipline of Solitude is a tool for the work of the Spirit, to hear His gentile voice so we can apply His truths. But, when we just seek an experience from this practice and not the reality and Truth that our Lord is, we will greatly miss its intent. This as well as with any of the Disciplines, they are not about seeking some kind mystical experience or some breathing exercise or whatever new or old will or way we can bring to it. God intended that we center ourselves in Him and not in anything else; prayer and "centering" in the Scriptures is meant to receive His inspired Word, focus on Christ and get to know and apply His precepts (Lam. 3:25-28; Psalm 42:7; Matt. 11:15).
What happens when we do not practice this discipline? We will miss out on a great way to build intimacy with Christ and maturity for life. We will be inundated with the inner chaos and outer stresses of life. The Discipline of Solitude is a tool for the work of the Spirit, to apply His truths into our deepest recesses. But, when we over busy ourselves we lose focus and bring secondary and even the wrong things in our attention and care. The Discipline of Solitude allows us to seek Christ first and foremost be disciplined and paying attention to the reality of His Way and Truth so He is applied to our daily life (Phil. 4:7).
Ideas to practice the Discipline of Solitude. We practice this Discipline of Solitude simply by becoming silent during our times with God. So when we are doing our devotions, we spend a few minutes in Scripture reading, then in prayer, read a devotion and then we set some time aside to quite ourselves and just being there, communing with God without saying a word. This can be for a few minutes to a few days. This is awkward for some people, as some people do not like silence while others do not like to relinquish what they perceive to be control. But this Discipline of Solitude is an excellent tool to build our relationship with Christ! It takes time to practice and get used to it, but once we do, it is phenomenal way to build intimacy with Christ and maturity in our Christian life! This is called building our "inner life" as we allow God to be God in our life, being poured out to Him, as we open ourselves to Him so He penetrates us through and through (Gal. 2:20-21). So, as you spend more time in your devotions set aside time for silence and then contemplate (recall and reflect) what He as revealed to you during your devotion and then "be still." You may even desire to make a half or whole day of it as a personal retreat. Go some were you are not bothered or distracted do your devotions and mark a few hours for quite reflection and listening.
1. How would you define the Discipline of Solitude? What gets in the way of you getting away for some Solitude?
2. What part does Solitude play in your relationships with church members, friends, coworkers, and family?
3. What is the cost to your life, personally and to the people around you, when you refuse to spend some time alone with God and listen to Him?
4. What happens when your church leadership refuses to practice listening to God or teach and encourage its people to grow deeper in Christ?
5. What happens to your relationship with God, with others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you allow stresses and storms of life to overwhelm you? How can the Discipline of Solitude help you?
6. When have you exercised Solitude the most? What is the difference between Solitude and over busyness?
7. In what situation did you fail to engage in Solitude when you should have? What does it mean to your dally life, with all its stresses, that you realize He is listening to you?
8. Look at Habakkuk 2:20. How can your silence be glorifying to our Lord? Why are some people uncomfortable with silence?
9. How would Solitude help you to distinguish when you are overworked or to busy? What would real, authentic Solitude look like in your life?
10. What issue is in your life that would improve with more Solitude and time alone with God?
11. How can you speak and model to others so they might be inclined to accept the authority of Jesus Christ? How does Solitude play out here?
12. Think through the steps that you need to take to put Solitude into action in a specific instance. For example, how can you use this Discipline of Solitude to improve your faith, Fruit, character, relationships, confidence, leadership ability, parenting, and/or relationship with Christ and others? What do you need to do to make this more of a reality in your life and in your church? What would your church look like if you and the leadership were to spend more alone time with God? What will you do now? Practice this discipline, read Psalm 130 (or any Psalm such as the first five) in a slow prayerful and way and then just listen to God. Try this every day for a week start with 3 minutes and try to work up to 15 minuets.
This Discipline of Solitude is to have a disposition that has no room for selfishness, or hidden motives, so our path is in harmony with Christ. We do this with a concern to please God-PERIOD--because our will has been yielded to His. It is also seeing what Christ has done at makes us pure. Thus we are better able to produce Fruit as well as an attitude and good character. We need to be aware of our sin, and that God is pure holiness, that is impossible to please God when we are in the way with our will. But Christ is in plain sight because He covered our sins in His atonement through Grace, and we exercise faith in receiving it (Psalm 24:3-4; John 14:9; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; 1 John 3:2). Since we are currently citizens of the kingdom, we can see God through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Solitude allows us to get a glimpse of what we shall see in the future, Christ face to face (John 14:6-7; Rev. 21:3; 22:3-4).
Perhaps this silence allows us to picture Christ, feel His presence, listen to Him (what He says will never counter anything He has said in His Word!). Imagine Christ Himself being there with you with all the excitement and enthusiasm yet the awe and fear that would entail. What would you do? Consider that worship and praise is nosy while at times we need a contrast to be focused. A pause to all the noise of the worship, a rest from our stresses, a sense of awe and contemplation will take place. Imagine that Christ's presence comes to you what do you give Him? It should be your gratitude and reverence, and then the self-examination and the reflection on all that is happening. Just imagine all that is about to happen, and how overwhelming, exciting, and awe-inspiring it would be. Keep in mind that a pause or silence does not always mean a lack of activity, as we actively listen to God as He is literally there with us already. So are you focused on Him? If not why not?
The Bible gives us a picture of Silence in Heaven (Rev. 8:1-5) which indicates the trepidation and wonder of all who are there to see the Lamb (although not directly indicted in this passage, it is denoted by context and word meanings) and what God is about to do (Hab. 2:20; Zeph. 1:7). The context is worship, and this silence can be one of several things such as contemplation and reverence, prayer, a dramatic delay before God's action, God pausing to hear the people's prayers, the lull between the fall of the old world and the start of a new one, or the overwhelming awe of all who are there, rendering them speechless. It could, perhaps, be all of the above; the point is that this is the final act and drama of God's patience and redemption before the coming of His Judgment. The details are yet undisclosed to us because they are not important. The point for us in the practice of the Discipline of Solitude is to trust in His rule and His grace on our behalf. In Hebrew culture, this silence could have brought shame and guilt to the witnesses as they realize their sin and have nothing to say. Also, there was silence in a courtroom before an accuser would speak or a judgment would be given (Psalm 31:17-18; 76:8-9; Is. 23:2; 41:1; 47:5; Hab. 2:20; Zeph. 1:7; Zach. 2:13). What we have such a marvelous opportunity be before our Lord and Creator, why would we not want too? We are no longer the accuse we are the ones set free on grace as Christians.
Solitude is important as with stillness and quiet, which is so often neglected today, especially in our youth. This will help you hold onto character!Picture how our Lord intercedes for us, comes to us, and shows us the way of faith. When we fail, He gives us His hand and places us where we need to be. The way to open this door so He can work is to put our key of trust and focus in the keyhole. He is the keyhole; He is the door. He gives us the key of faith to open His treasures, and secures us through the storms of life (Matt. 14: 22-36).
Solitude will not produce character because we also need the demands of life. We learn by people pushing us, and learning how to respond through the Word. Yet, solitude will hone character by mediation, prayer, and reflection on how we could have done better. A step of faith is easy to do when we can see, but, in the stress of life, we usually cannot see. We cannot wait until whatever storm we are in to clear up; we have to step out and obey His precepts, regardless of the circumstances or what others may say. Do not let doubt and fears adjoin to the storms of life; see Jesus cut across the storm, so you can see His hand! We must obey with joy (Matt. 14:22-36; John 2:5)! Come to a point to picture of how Jesus rescues us. We all need to be rescued. He reaches out to us; we all need to respond to Him by taking His lead but first we must see Him (Psalm 69).
The Discipline of Solitude is our silent meditative worship of Christ as LORD, as we are in awe and silent praise awe of God and His holiness (Job 28:28; Prov. 1:7; 3:5; 8:13; 9:10; 16:6; 31:30; Psalm 2:11; 34:11; 111:10; Isa. 12:6; Eccl. 12: 13; Mal. 1:14; Matt. 10: 27-33; Rom. 2:11; James 2:1). Our silence is golden; we are showing a proclamation of respect given to our King not the noise to an idol (1 Sam. 24:8; 25:23). Jesus, being God, who rescues us from our depravity, deserves our utmost respect, awe, and praise. This praise must not be given to anyone or anything else!
We, as Christians, need to know that storms will come; storms always come. Either you are in a storm, coming out of a storm or in the middle of the eye of a storm-surrounded by a storm, but, not seeing it. We all will experience rough times, either because of our disobedience, or, from the misdeeds of others affecting us. Since most of humanity is interconnected by just two or three degrees of separation, all of our actions and decisions affect one another, for the good or for the bad. But, even in a storm, He takes us to the shore! However, for us to get through, then learn and grow from it, we must be focused and disciplined! For the deeper, spiritual things or to know the God of the universe, the Discipline of Solitude will be your key.
Jesus loves us even through our frailties, even when we are chasing the wrong things in life. But beware that our complacency will keep us away from this Discipline of Solitude and, in so doing, away from our growth of faith and Fruit. We will be besieged by the ways of the world and the stresses of life even those we bring upon ourselves. We will not recognize what Christ has done before, so, we do not look ahead and trust Him. We become stuck in ourselves, perhaps too comfortable, too fearful, or just do not care. We have to see who He is, and what He has done so we can see ahead for what He will do. He knows you; He knows your situation, your needs, and He cares! We have to know firmly in our mindsets and in our faith that although Christ may seem absent from us, He is not. He is watching; He is near. In fact, He is right beside you now. What is stopping you from silencing your noise, then listening and focusing on Him? Forget your will; forget your past; forget what you may not be able to see. Reach out and take His hand! In your "quiet times" (devotions) -and they are called "quiet times" for a reason, He will lead you, lift you up, and place you in His will.