When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is check my phone and it’s often the last thing I do at night. I generally listen to music whenever I’m travelling or working and when I get home my normal practice is to sit in front of the TV and continue watching whatever series currently has me hooked on Amazon Prime.
What does a normal day look like for you? When do you see people, listen to music, watch TV or check your phone?
We live in world where we are constantly entertained, surrounded by people, music and social media. Very rarely do we stop or hear the sound of sheer silence. In fact many of us find it hard to sit still for more than 5 minutes without checking Snapchat or Twitter.
Yet throughout Jesus’ life He retreats from the crowds, from the noise and even from His friends. He finds time and space to be still and silent with God. This is what we call the spiritual discipline of solitude.
In the Bible there is a prophet called Elijah who’s been having a pretty tough time. He’s up a mountain crying out to God when a gale force wind shakes the mountain. It’s so powerful that the rocks begin to shatter. Surely this is God answering Elijah? But no. Then there’s an earthquake, followed by a fire. Surely this is God revealing His power? But no. Then finally there’s the sound of a gentle whisper, or in some translations, sheer silence. Into this silence God speaks to Elijah.
God wants to spend time with and speak to each of us, but how often do we stop and how often are we quiet? Would we hear God above the noise of our lives if He was trying to speak to us?
We recently spent 7 minutes with our young people sitting still in silence, practising solitude. For most the idea seemed almost impossible but at the end they found it surprisingly easy and many said they could have carried on. Will you give it a go?
Practicing solitude is not easy. Many of us struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out), we constantly surround ourselves with people so we are never alone. Often we use distractions to cover up our insecurity, but solitude leaves us totally alone with our thoughts and that can be hard. It’s okay to recognise that and be honest with God about how we feel.
Try to find a place where there are few distractions. Maybe even leave your phone outside the room. Choose to actively still not only your body but your mind. Try to focus on God, listen to and reflect on Him. Start with a couple of minutes at some point today and over time as you practice regularly it will become easier to spend more time sitting in solitude with God.