Is life ever too busy for you? Do you find it hard to hear from God? How do you recharge so that you don’t feel empty? These are all really good honest questions that many of us have.
solitude blog 1Let me start this off with a quick personal story. A few months ago I was far from home on a trip and I was really wanting to eat something healthy so I asked my friend if I could borrow his car to go to the grocery store. After a busy week of intense ministry it was one of the first times in awhile that I had finally experienced some silence. Leaving a crowd of hundreds of people to be in a car with no radio was one of the most beautiful things I could experience as I so needed it. The funny thing is how I did it by accident not realizing that God had something planned. I parked in the parking lot for 10 minutes and just sat there in silence focusing on God with a smile. I might have prayed a few sentences at first but nothing could beat that beautiful sound of silence. I started to feel so full again in my spirit. I met with God and he met with me. We didn’t say much but I could sure feel his presence in a strong way. I was a few feet away from buying my blueberries and apples but yet what I was really craving was this intimate moment with God my father. I had still previously read the bible during the week but most of the time it was reading with noise all around and I didn’t stop and wait on God that much so this moment was so life giving. After coming home on this trip a mentor of mine called to catch up and as I told her about what God was doing she said, “Wow, it sounds like God is really bringing you on a journey.” At the time I didn’t really know what she meant, but now I do. God for the past little bit has been showing me the importance of spending solitude and silence with him.
So what does the word solitude mean? When I first looked up the word this is what I read from another speaker and blogger Carey Nieuwhof. He says it so well

“Solitude is good.  It recharges the soul.  It offers time for reflection, for prayer.  And even when you’re alone, if you’re experiencing solitude, you are still connected.  Solitude connects you to God, to yourself, and it will prepare you to be connected to others.”

A few weeks ago I finished watching a movie and felt ready to go to bed but then I heard God tugging on my heart to read the bible. I was not really feeling up to it but as we all know our faith isn’t based on our feelings. I was ready to call it a day and sleep but I heard God say in that soft gentle voice. “I have something to speak to you about in this moment and what if you miss it?” As I read through the first chapter of Luke with my pen and paper in hand I was encouraged a bit but still nothing jumped off the page to me in a huge way until I came across the very last verse before closing my bible. Luke 1:80 says John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. Wait what! This verse definitely jumped off the page to me. What wilderness, what does this fully mean? How long was he in the wilderness for? What did he do in that time? After thinking through on this verse for awhile I did some research and in a commentary I heard someone talk about solitude. Solitude is a new word for me that I don’t really say much so I began to do some research with that. I found a book called Invitation to Solitude and silence from a Christian author Ruth Haley Barton. The book was around $14 so with no hesitation I bought the audiobook after listening to a preview of it.
solitide blog 1Friends will sometimes ask me to promote their product, their event or even a new project and I will do it out of friendship as most of us do to help out a friend. This time I am sharing with you about a book with an author I have never met before because I really feel this will help you out in a huge way. I so believe in this book because God has worked in such a powerful way through it in my own life so I want others to be encouraged too. No one is telling me to say this, I truly want to challenge you to try solitude and silence with God. Practicing out this book has really deepened my friendship with God and he has already showed me so many things in this process. He has spoken to me about things I need to work on, how much he loves us, specific things to pray about for other people, things about the future… This book has encouraged me so much to listen for his voice. Over the Christmas holidays I have been able to practice solitude and silence for many hours with God and it has been so rewarding to feel the way I do from doing it. I want you to know that this is for everyone, not only some certain people are allowed to experience this. Anyone that knows me, knows that I can be at times a person that is loud, hyper and moves at a fast pace with a low attention span so if God can get a hold of me in this way he can certainly do this for anyone else. This new spiritual discipline has now brought my faith with God to a whole new deeper place. I would before have some deep connections with God through drawing, walks outside and guitar but now practicing solitude and silence is taking things to a whole new level. This is a way to experience God in a different way than what we are familiar with in our busy life.
Here are a few notes I have been writing down from this book called invitation to solitude and silence. We don’t take our spiritual life serious unless we distant ourself and go in quietness before God. Silence gets our thoughts to quiet down. Silence creates space for God. When we practice this he will produce in us peace love and joy. A fear we could have is that God might not show up but he will.  We need to rest our minds after we are so busy in life. 1 Cor 2:10 For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us Gods deep secrets. Psalms 46:10 Be still and know that I am God. The point of solitude is to be with God with what is true with me right now. Silence allows me to give God access to the reality of myself. Instead of running away from grieve and pain, go through it and work through it with God. Psalm 62:1 I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. What are some of the areas in life that you feel empty? Emptiness is painful so we can often try to escape it. The painful experiences in life opens us up to God. Refusing to not deal with emptiness will do us no good in the long haul. When we feel pain it causes us to pray. Times in solitude can sometime feel like nothing has happened but really it does make a difference. Have a special place where you meet with God for this, something different from where you work. Go in a comfortable position and you can start off with a simple prayer like “Here I am” or “Come” Have a listening posture. Have a realistic goal of how long you want to try this for and don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it that long. Let distractions pass by. What cares do you need to give to God? Listen for a response. Don’t demand for God to fill us on our terms. Bring your questions to him that you have? Don’t try to figure everything out. How can I trust in God? Is there anything inside hurting? If you have sadness share that with God. Close with a prayer of gratitude or the Lords prayer.solitude blog 4
Don’t be afraid to try this. Many great leaders in the bible set the example for this as they would often go off alone and in those moments God spoke to them in a powerful way. Look at Jesus, Moses, Elijiah and many others that would often leave the busy life style to wait and be still before God.
What would happen if we shut down our thoughts more and sat quiet before God? What is holding you back from leaving all the distractions around you? What if even right now you took a few minutes to turn off this screen that you are reading this from and spend some silent time with God. Don’t feel the pressure that you have to say anything and don’t feel that he has to say anything. Go deeper in his presence and see what happens. What if we turned off Netflix, we paused social media, we didn’t give into the demands of all the people around us and we took time to be with God?