8 steps in meeting God in silence and solitude
Ruth Haley Barton
The spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude may be quiet, but they’re also full of adventure, because God Himself is waiting to meet you there. Whenever you get away from the noise and busyness of life to encounter God through silence and solitude, He’ll change your soul in ways that go beyond words.
Pay attention to what’s stirring in your soul. Notice the feelings of desperation and desire that you experience at various times. Instead of trying to suppress or run from those feelings, let them motivate you pursue time with God in silence and solitude.
Incorporate silence and solitude into your life regularly. Choose a regular time and place to get away from life as usual and spend at least 10 minutes in silence and solitude as often as you can. Ask God to help you express your need for Him through a simple prayer, and choose a physical position that will enable you to stay alert yet worshipful.
Overcome resistance. Don’t let anything distract you from devoting yourself regularly to times of seeking God in silence and solitude. Entrust each of your current concerns specifically to God in prayer so you can be free to be fully present with Him during solitude and silence. If you’re anxious or afraid when you think about spending time in solitude and silence, admit it to God and ask Him to comfort you.
Seek rest for your body, mind, and soul. Pray for the wisdom you need to recognize when you’ve become dangerously tired – exhausted by life’s demands, to the point where you can’t hear God’s voice speaking to you. Rather than showing up tired for your special meetings with God, give your body the rest it needs by getting enough sleep and exercise, eating well, and drinking water regularly. While you’re spending time in solitude and silence, take deep breaths and let the peace of God’s presence fill your body.
Let emptiness lead you to God’s fulfillment. Don’t try to deny or avoid the emptiness you feel inside sometimes. Feel the pain of your emptiness as it carves out space in your soul for you to receive more of God’s presence.
Face yourself as you really are, and let God help you. Rather than hiding from God, denying who you are, or trying to control what others think of you, allow the truth of who you are to surface during solitude and silence – and face the reality of the person you see, flaws and all. Then remember that God loves you deeply and unconditionally, and ask Him to meet you right where you are and help you grow more into the person He wants you to become.
Receive God’s guidance. The more time you spend with God in solitude and silence, the more you’ll learn how to recognize God’s voice when He speaks to you. Pray for the guidance you need to make wise decisions, and be alert for the Holy Spirit witnessing to your spirit about what is true.
Let the love that you experience in solitude and silence pour out into other people’s lives. Each time that you return to life in community with other people after spending time in solitude and silence, draw upon the love that God has given you to love others in the ways He wants you to express love – from speaking kind and encouraging words, to serving them when they need help with something.