Summary: The purpose of this lesson is to expose God’s children to an aspect of spiritual discipline that has been forgotten & encourage us to make it a part of our spiritual lives.
CHRISTIAN DISCIPLINES – Solitude and Quiet*
A. Here I have a 3 minute egg timer, which actually runs about 3minutes and 5 seconds.
1. First thing I want you to do is get a thought about God to think on – got it?
2. When I say go, I will turn the timer over and I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes and concentrate on that thought – keep your mind on God
3. I will tell you when time is up – try not look up or around, I will tell you when time is up.
5. Time – did you find it hard, was it to quiet, hard to concentrate?
B. This evening I want to look into two spiritual disciplines that have fallen on hard time – really hard times - Solitude and Silence.
1. Solitude and silence are not on our list of things to do in the fast pace world we live in – why is that?
a. Maybe it just “creeps us out” not to have noise
b. Or maybe we think of it as a waste of time – I’m not being very productive, in the world’s manner of thinking.
c. Maybe it is because we might have to think about some things we really don’t want to think about?
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, We are so afraid of the silence that we chase ourselves from one event to the next in order not to have to spend a moment alone with ourselves, in order not to have to look at ourselves in the mirror.
2. What ever the reason for not liking silence and solitude, Susan Muto makes a point that we need to consider. She states, In a noise-polluted world, it is even difficult to hear ourselves think, let alone try to be still and know God. Yet it seems essential for our spiritual life to seek some silence, no matter how busy we may be. Silence is not to be shunned as empty space, but to be befriended as fertile ground for intimacy with God.
C. As we think about these two separate, yet closely related, disciplines I believe we get some indication that Jesus thought they were necessary.
1. In Matthew we find Jesus teaching the disciples about prayer
2. He says at one point, But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:6
a. Now the idea of a closet would lead us to believe that it was secluded: a place to find solitude and quiet.
b. It was a place where no one else would be and we would find ourselves alone with God.
D. So we really should consider the topic. In doing se we will try to
1. Give a Description
2. Show Jesus’ Example
3. Provide Motivational Reasons
Lets ask God to open our hearts to these spiritual disciplines which might just be the door that opens us to a deeper and more wonderful relationship with our Savior.
We will begin by trying to
I. GIVE A DESCRIPTION
A. We will begin with Solitude
1. In the “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook” Adele Calhoun gives this definition The practice of solitude involves scheduling enough uninterrupted time in a distraction-free environment that you experience isolation and are alone with God. Solitude is a “container discipline” for the practice of other spiritual disciplines.
2. Its motivating desire is to leave people behind and enter into a time alone with God
3. Practices of solitude include
a. Giving God time and space that is not in competition with social contact, noise or stimulation
b. Observing Sabbath refreshment by abstaining from constant interaction with others, information and activities
c. Addressing your addiction to be seen
d. Communing with God while you are by yourself
e. Practicing other disciplines such as study, reading the Bible, prayer, etc.
B. The Discipline of Silence
1. This is often practiced in conjunction with solitude
2. Calhoun defines this as “a regenerative practice of attending and listening to God in quiet, without interruption and noise. Silence provides freedom from speaking as well as from listening to words (which include reading) or music.
3. Its motivating desire is to be free from the addiction to noise so we can be totally present to the Lord; to open ourselves to God in the place beyond words.
4. Spiritual practices could include:
a. Setting aside a period of time in which you don’t speak but isolate yourself from sounds (other than perhaps the sounds of nature)
b. Driving without the radio or CD player on
c. Leaving the TV off and spending time sitting before God