This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, and service to the Lord. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of silence and solitude.  In a world full of noise, we need to be alone with God – sometimes.

Explanation of Silence and Solitude

Don Whitney writes, “The Discipline of silence is the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought” (224).  As Whitney points out, the silence is not for mere quietness alone, but for the purpose of reaching goals in Bible reading, prayer, and journaling.  Don Whitney goes on to write, “Solitude is the Spiritual Discipline of voluntarily and temporarily withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes” (224).  No matter if the period of solitude is for a few minutes or a few days, the purpose is always centered on a God-glorifying goal as opposed to a fleshly desire to be self-serving.

Valuable Reasons for Silence and Solitude

  1.  To Follow Jesus’ Example
  2. To Minimize Distractions in Prayer
  3. To Express Worship to God
  4. To Express Faith in God
  5. To Seek the Salvation of the Lord
  6. To Be Physically and Spiritually Restored
  7. To Regain a Spiritual Perspective
  8. To Seek the Will of God
  9. To Learn Control of the Tongue

Don Whitney writes, “One reason why the dual disciplines of silence and solitude can be so thoroughly transforming is because of how they help connect us with the other Spiritual Disciplines” (236).

Suggestions for Silence and Solitude

Don Whitney writes, “Here are some practical helps for making silence and solitude less a mere longing and more a reality and a habit” (238).

  1. “Minute Retreats” – Prioritize small segments in a day where silence and solitude can be achieved.
  2. A Goal of Daily Silence and Solitude
  3. Getting Away for Solitude and Silence
  4. Special Places
  5. Trade Off Daily Responsibilities

In the memoir of the first missionary from America, Adoniram Judson, we find this story:

Once, when worn out with translations, and really needing rest, he went over the hills into the thick jungle, far beyond all human habitation. . . . To this place he brought his Bible, and sat down under the wild jungle trees to read, and mediate, and pray, and at night returned to the “hermitage” [a bamboo house he’d built at the edge of the jungle].

Don Whitney writes, “Why would he [Adoniram Judson] break his routine for this prolonged period of silence and solitude?  His biographer says it was ‘as a means of moral improvement by which the whole of his future life might be rendered more in harmony with the perfect example of the Saviour whom he worshipped'” (246).

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9

Questions to Consider:

  1. Will you seek daily times of silence and solitude?
  2. Will you seek extended times of silence and solitude?
  3. Will you start now?
  4. Will you commit yourself to the Disciplines of silence and solitude?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 11 and look at the subject of journaling. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.