Life with God: Silence and Solitude

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Silence and Solitude

“Silent solitude makes true speech possible and personal. If I am not in touch with my own belovedness, then I cannot touch the sacredness of others. If I am estranged from myself, I am likewise a stranger to others.”

Brennan Manning, Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

The intent of silence and solitude is to PLACE ourselves before God. 

37 And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38 And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him. (Luke 21:37-38; ESV) 

Reason #1: Jesus retreats to pray about a DECISION. 

12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles . . . (Luke 6:12-13; ESV) 

Reason #2: Jesus retreats to mourn over a DEATH. 

10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus. 13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. (Matthew 14:10-13; ESV) 

Reason #3: Jesus retreats to withdraw from PEOPLE. 


22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone . . . (Matthew 14:22-23; ESV) 


35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39; ESV) 

42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him (Luke 4:42; ESV) . . . 15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:15-16; ESV) 

Reason #4: Jesus retreats to pray through DIFFICULTY.

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:39-42; ESV) 

The intent of silence and solitude is to PREPARE ourselves for life. 

“We too are called to withdraw at certain intervals into deeper silence and aloneness with God, together as a community as well as personally; to be alone with Him — not with our books, thoughts, and memories but completely stripped of everything — to dwell lovingly in His presence, silent, empty, expectant, and motionless. We cannot find God in noise or agitation.”

Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

“Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality can disturb us.”

Henry David Thoreau