Part 2: Solitude and Silenceby Roger Severino
Have you ever taken some intentional time away to focus on prayer, spiritual renewal, and your relationship with God?
The world likes to keep us so busy and distracted from the thing that matters most, our relationship with God. Dallas Willard once said that the best thing we can do for our spiritual formation is to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives. Jesus often modeled this spiritual discipline by frequently getting away to deserted places to pray. In the midst of intense ministry, Jesus went away to spend time with His Father, even when everyone was looking for Him (see Mark 1:29-39). The demands of people, even ministry, should not supersede our need to connect with God. How about you? Do you feel that life has distracted you from this most important relationship? Do you feel that you are sometimes so busy doing things for God, that you have neglected sitting at Jesus’ feet and spending time with Him?
Here are some ways that I have attempted to practice solitude and silence in my life, though I certainly am not the best example.
- Daily: I try to set aside some time each morning to spend in God’s presence in Bible study and prayer. For me, it’s a spot on our dining room table, usually away from the traffic of the rest of the house. Here I have my Bible, prayer list, devotional book, and prayer books. I spend time reading, reflecting and praying. Also, I try to catch moments throughout the day, such as driving without the radio or noise, in order to commune with my Father.
- Monthly/Bi-Monthly: About every month or two, I try to spend a little more time away devoted to solitude and silence. This may mean I go to a place like Radnor Lake and spend a couple of hours on a prayer walk. The first half of the time I simply walk, and allow my thoughts and mind to flow, not trying to pray or necessarily control what makes its way to the top. This is my way of quieting myself down and connecting with God. Somewhere along the way I begin to pray and speak to God about whatever is on my heart. I often use this time also to pray for others and for ministry efforts.
- Annually/Bi-Annually: Once a year or so I try to get away for an even longer period of time, perhaps an overnight. I have found a place on the top of Mont Eagle called St. Mary’s that is designed for such a prayer retreat. This has been particularly helpful for me during times of a big decision or transition. In seeking clarity about a new calling, for example, I have spent time at the prayer retreat journaling and praying about how I sensed the Lord was leading me.
In 2015, how will you insure that you create margin in your life for interrupted times of solitude and silence? Your very spiritual health may depend on it.