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Discovering the Power of Solitude and Silence

I wish I could live my life in solitude. No, I don’t mean in a cabin out in the woods somewhere. I’m learning that solitude is more a state of mind rather than a period of simply being quiet. Richard Foster writes, There is a solitude of the heart that can be maintained at all times.” Inner solitude effects how we interact with people and culture. This may look a bit strange to our society because it conflicts with the “Look at Me, Listen to Me” attitude that our culture promotes.

One of the greatest benefits of having a heart of solitude is that we give God the opportunity to speak to us. In order for Him to do so, all other voices must remain silent. The needy voice of the stomach, the vain voice of the body, and the greedy voice of the eyes must be put in their proper place: silenced. God isn’t going to get into a shouting match with all of the other things going on in our heads and hearts. He could, but what would we learn from that? Oftentimes, the best thing we can do is come before the Lord with a silenced heart and mind and give Him the chance to speak. To whisper.

It is no accident that Jesus spent portions of His life away from the crowds and away from His friends. He did this not to be a weird recluse, but to silence the commotion around Him and give the Father His whole attention. I think the reason silence is associated with solitude is because true solitude lends itself to silencing our hearts. Jesus does this because it is a Biblical practice. Take a look at Ecclesiastes 5:2 :

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

Quite humbling. Probably one of the most important things to learn from solitude is the control of how much we speak before God and before man. The book of Proverbs has many verses on the topic, such as Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, sin is not absent.” I’m not saying don’t speak, and I’m also not saying don’t spend time talking to God. He desires communion with us and loves to hear our concerns, needs, and praises. But I am encouraging an acknowledgment that our mouths can get in the way by talking over God’s voice, and keeping our tongues under control among other people can be invaluable in our spiritual journey.

Let the holiness of God silence our hearts as we draw near to Him in reverent solitude.

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Stewart Fenters is a musician and worship leader at Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, SC. If not spending time with his lovely wife, you can usually find him with a cup of coffee and nose in a book. He also writes a blog about worship, music and life.