Why is solitude a spiritual discipline?
1. Jesus Did It – Read Mark and pay attention to how often Jesus goes off by himself to pray. Being a devout Jew, Jesus no doubt participated in the daily prayers that all Jewish people participated in but scripture tells us that Jesus did more than the prescribed prayer and needed even more time listening to his Father in the quietness and stillness of time spent alone. I have trouble finding the time for solitude much less the motivation. Jesus was intentional about his time with God.
2. It Exposes Your Mind – Try this, go spend 15 minutes in silence and solitude and record the first thought your mind gravitates toward. This is the baseline for your thought life. If you are like me, this thought was probably not very spiritual. Even if your first thought was spiritual, note how fast it took you to move to a less than spiritual thought. In solitude we come face to face with the reality of our thought life. No wonder we like to stay so distracted. Our thought life is a minefield of temptation, negativity, evil, and laziness.
3. It Makes Room For God – When I was dating my wife, I didn’t like being with her in larger groups with her friends because, being an introvert, I couldn’t compete very well for her attention. I much preferred having her to myself. I could be more comfortable and more like myself. God, of course, can arrange moments any way he likes but he seems to relish times that he can have us to himself. Corporate worship is essential to our relationship with God but it is in our times alone with God that we learn to hear his voice and be impacted by his presence. It is also where we learn to know him. As the scripture says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
We are coming up on the busiest time of the year. Don’t lose sight of your need for solitude. Make this Christmas season filled with meaningful moments, not just with family and friends, but with God.