What would happen if you spent a day alone, and didn’t talk to anyone but God? We live in a world that continually bombards our senses. Televisions, radio’s, telephones and computers are our constant companions. Rarely do we take time out of our demanding lives for quiet and solitude.
Yet God tells us, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Many of us never allow ourselves to be quiet and still enough to hear the voice of God—to sit silently in his presence. We get focused on our problems but forget to enter God’s presence.
Isaiah reminds us that in solitude and silence we find strength (Isaiah 30:15). We may daily read our Bible and pray – talking to God, but do we take time to be quiet and listen to what God is saying back to us?
Practicing the discipline of silence and solitude is difficult at first. Some people find silence frightening. We aren’t use to being alone with our own thoughts, let alone the thoughts of God. Yet, carving out regular times in which to be quiet renews both our inner life and our outer life.
Silence and solitude gives us the space in our hectic time driven lives for prayer, self-reflection, personal worship, and meditation. It is in this space that we not only come to understand our own thoughts better, but to begin to grasp the mind of God.
For me, I find the best time for this is first thing in the morning. There is something built in to this time of the day which readies my heart to be more quiet and open to God (Psalm 5:3). Once the daily activity starts in, it is much harder to carve out that quiet and alone space.
I would also encourage you to try half day or full day retreats where you can be totally alone with God. Some Christian retreat centers allow people to come in for a day just for this purpose. A day alone on the beach or in the mountains can also be a place of solitude and silence where God can make himself more known to you.
If you’ve never practiced silence and solitude before, start small. Turn everything off or go to a quiet place in your house and just be still for five minutes. Focus on one particular verse or thought about God. Yes, your mind will wander, but when it does, just bring it back to the verse or thought you started with. You might find yourself having to do that many times in five minutes. That’s normal. Just bring your mind back to that one thought of God.
For example, you might say to yourself, “Be still and know that He is God”. Then quiet your body and mind to listen to God. I start quieting my mind by focusing on my breath, in and out, slow and steady. Practicing silence helps us learn to see the unseen reality around us and to to tune our spiritual eyes and ears to the Holy Spirit.
In this world there are so many voices clamoring for our attention, we must be intentional so that we can hear to God’s still small voice.
*Portions of this article is from Leslie’s book, How to Live Right When Life Goes Wrong