Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the allusions of the false self. – Peter Scazzero
In the last year, I’ve read so much about the need for silence and solitude. I was always left really inspired to do it, but still had one big question:
WHAT DOES SILENCE AND SOLITUDE
ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE?
My vision of it has always been getting quiet and clearing my mind, whatever that means. And if you have ever tried this, you know your thoughts will bombard you and 3 minutes in, you are thinking about the windows that really need a good scrub. Just me?
I thought I’d offer a few tips for how to practice silence and solitude.
1. RECOGNIZE THE VALUE
I have said this a ton already this week but it’s really the first step. If we don’t value something, we won’t prioritize it. We have to mentally prepare and know that this time is important. This time has value. You may not be physically checking something off your list so instinct tells us it’s a waste of it. It’s not. I love the quote at the beginning of this post. The “furnace of transformation.”
2. GET ALONE
“If a man wants to be used by God, he can’t spend all His time with people.” – A.W. Tozer
How true is this? The name solitude makes this a non-negotiable. We can’t do this practically with a toddler next to us. I’m not implying that there is no value in praying and speaking to God with our kids in the room. This is certainly the case for lots of moms of littles and for myself too, but we do need to see the value of getting completely alone.
3. GET AWAY FROM THE NOISE
Getting alone implies that we will get away from noise, but there are other things that can distract us even when we are alone. A cell phone in arms reach, even music. We have to create space for God to speak to us. When we step away and clear out the noise, I feel like it is a practical way we are telling God “I’m ready to listen.”
4. FILL YOUR MIND, DON’T EMPTY IT
As I mentioned earlier, I thought meditation was much more of a vacuum, even Christian meditation, and total and utter silence, not just in my speech but thoughts too. Learning that this wasn’t the case was super encouraging and took the pressure off. There are several ways to “fill this time.”
- Meditate on a short verse. Repeat it. Recognize each word and let the meaning take root. If you need a place to start, one verse that I have found myself meditating on often is Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
- Breathe God in, breathe the world out. This one is kind of visual and incorporates deep breathing which is great for so many reasons. It is so easy to live for temporary things. This exercise reminds me to fix my eyes on God instead of the world. Here are some helpful verses!
- “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
- “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
- “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
- Ask God questions. When we ask God questions, we are inviting Him to speak. I talked about this a bit in the Fresh Start journal but this was an idea I found in Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels.
- Journal. I was pleasantly surprised to see Gordon MacDonald say in Ordering Your Private World, that journaling was a way to practice silence or solitude. This was something I have done for months and have found super life-giving, but didn’t realize this was a form of silence and solitude. Since realizing it though, I’ve been even more intentional about seeing it this way!
5. SCHEDULE IT
Put on your calendar a time to have daily solitude and silence and longer periods of solitude every month or quarter. Start slow friends! Trying to jump into 30 minutes or an hour of solitude in your busy day might just discourage you if you can’t find the time. Try 5 minutes a day and increase as you can. Plan a time for extended silence and solitude (1 – 3 hours). Bonus points if you can do this out in nature by a lake on a mountainside. 😉
If you are feeling particularly disconnected from God, don’t feel discouraged. We simply cannot expect to experience soul deep connection with our Heavenly Father when we are constantly connected to the world (i.e. kids, work, screens). God calls us to get away. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) And restoration happens there. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3)
- 6 techniques to wake up a dull prayer life
9 tips for creating a habit of prayer
- How to practice silence & solitude
- Getting the most out of your prayer journal
- My 5 favorite books on prayer