The Practice of Silence and Solitude
It is not uncommon for the only time we end up resting to be due to an illness. We will run ourselves into the ground until our body says, no more, and we crash. Bouts of illness are hardly considered “restful” but it is sometimes the only way we will stop.
Silence is a good spiritual practice to incorporate into your year. It creates space for your mind, body, and soul to settle. For introverts, this is a glorious retreat to look forward to – not so much for extroverts. For the more social of us, this can be a very painful, sacrificial commitment. Whichever side of the introvert/extrovert line you land on, silence is important. This is a space where we reflect, create, stare at a wall… whatever we need to do to re-energize.
It is undistracted time where we invite God to speak because we are listening. We gain perspective during these times.
If you feel like your world is non-stop and you’d like to find the pause button, below are some ways you can create the pause button for yourself.
When your church or non-profit is doing the annual calendar planning, get out your schedule and plan your times of silence and solitude right then. Do not wait or it will never happen. A good rule of thumb is two weekends of solitude a year, a couple of hours each month, and 15-30 minutes every day. The only ones you will likely need approval for are the two weekends. If weekdays work better for your ministry position, ask for those few weekdays off as the calendar is being set. It is completely acceptable to advocate for your spiritual health.
Once your dates have been set in your planner, make reservations. Are you going to camp at a state park? Reserve your campsite. More of a hotel person? Book the hotel. We are much more likely to stick to a commitment if we have something booked. If you’re struggling financially, get creative to see what your options could be. Are there church members who have a lake house they enjoy sharing with friends? Maybe your time of solitude looks like a day retreat where you go to a park on your own for the day. Find places you enjoy that would allow you to get the time and space you need for silence and solitude.
Prepare for Your Time of Silence:
Thinking through the intention of the time spent alone can give it focus. It’s easy to get overly ambitious when we discover we will finally have time carved out to do what we want.
Think through your daily time of quiet. What would you like to be your focus? Leave that space open for evaluation. Do you have any superstitions about what that time should look like? For many there is the checklist of prayer, Bible reading, maybe some journaling. Do you need something different for a time? Maybe it’s sitting and contemplating while drinking coffee. Maybe it’s a walk or doing something creative. God is with you always. He is a part of all your activities and will connect with you. There’s no magic formula.
Monthly Extended Time of Silence:
This is a great time to slow down and get a feel for how life is going. Does anything feel unbalanced? Does anything in your schedule need to change? Are you operating out of your own strength or surrendering your day to God?
If something is off, taking time to pause and let yourself be still will give space for these things to come to the surface. Surrender them to God in this time and ask Him to show you next steps.
Weekend of Solitude:
For the time you have reserved to take a trip for the weekend, think through what you would like the focus to be. Do you need time to prayerfully reflect on where you’ve been during the year and where you’d like to be headed? Is there something going on in your life that you would like to focus on with God? Is there a hobby you enjoy but don’t have the time to do? Maybe you simply need to unplug and let your mind, body, and soul rest.
Do your best to let it be a time of silence. No technology, no books, no music – C.S. Lewis doesn’t need to come on the trip with you. Hillsong doesn’t need to accompany you. Let this truly be a time of stillness and listening. You may be surprised by what you hear in the silence.
Do bring a journal. Even if you’re not a regular journaler, writing down your experience over the weekend will document your spiritual journey. It will be something you can go back to when you enter real life again.
As mentioned earlier, your spiritual health is worth advocating for. Without God, our ministry is worthless. It is in our connection with God that we receive direction, strength, and fruitfulness in our service to Him. He is where we find joy and freedom.
Desert Road Ministries has spiritual guides ready to help you prepare for your time of silence and solitude. If you would like support on your spiritual health journey, please reach out to us. We are here for you! CONTACT US