Silence and Solitude as a Means of Spiritual Growth

Silence is the abstention from speaking. Solitude is withdrawing to privacy. As spiritual disciplines, both can help us in our spiritual growth.

Silence and Solitude as a Means of Spiritual Growth
Photo by Keegan Houser / Unsplash

Silence and solitude can be distinguished, but they are usually found together. Let’s begin by defining these two spiritual disciplines.

  • Silence is the abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought.
  • Solitude is withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes.

While biblical fellowship involves talking about God requiring interaction with others, silence and solitude do not. Yet both have an important place in the Christian life.

9 Reasons for Silence and Solitude

  1. Silence and solitude follows Jesus’s example: Jesus regularly devoted time to remove himself from other people and engage in periods of silence. Sometimes, it was for a few minutes; other times he remained in silent solitude for hours or days.
  2. Silence and solitude minimizes distraction in prayer: The Bible is replete with examples of individuals who sought silent solitude for undistracted prayer.
    • Elijah (1 Kings 19:8)
    • Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:1)
    • Paul (Galatians 1:17)
  3. Silence and solitude expresses worship to God: The worship of God, according to Scripture, can be expressed in silence. (Habakkuk 2:20; Zechariah 2:13) Often, our hearts may be full of thoughts and emotions that cannot be expressed in words.
  4. Silence and solitude expresses faith in God: The Bible gives examples of faith expressed in silence. In Psalm 62, David expresses his faith in silence. In silent absence of anxiety, faith is expressed in Isaiah 30:15.
  5. Silence and solitude seeks the Lord’s salvation: An unbeliever can seek salvation from sin. A believe can seek salvation from certain circumstances. (Jeremiah 3:25-28)
  6. Silence and solitude brings physical and spiritual restoration: All of us need periods of rest, and this is often found in silent solitude. (Mark 6:31)
  7. Silence and solitude helps us regain spiritual perspective: One effective way to reduce our worldly perspective and gain greater spiritual perspective is through silent solitude. Zechariah’s perspective changed during his period of forced silence. (Luke 1:20-64)
  8. Silence and solitude helps us seek God’s will: Jesus sought solitude to pray an entire night before choosing his twelve apostles. (Luke 6:12-13)
  9. Silence and solitude helps us control our tongue: Wisdom and controlling our tongue go hand–in–hand. (Proverbs 17:27-28) Controlling our tongue involves restraining the tongue. (Ecclesiastes 3:7; James 1:19)

Practical Suggestions for Silence and Solitude

  1. Take one minute retreats: Pause intermittently for one minute during your day. Use that minute of silence to look intently at Christ and concentrate on him. Rest in him. Worship him.
  2. Get away: Get away for an extended period of time for silent solitude. Take a few hours or an entire day. Bring only a pen, a notebook, and your Bible.
  3. Identify a special place: Find special places that you can use as locations for silence and solitude. It can be in your home. It can be walking distance. It can even require a drive if it is for a longer retreat.
  4. Trade off responsibilities: Arrange a system when you can trade off daily responsibilities with another person so you can have extended periods of silence and solitude.

Final Thoughts

  • Will you search for daily times of silence and solitude?
  • Will you plan for extended periods of silence and solitude?
  • Will you commit to the spiritual discipline of silence and solitude today?