The Spiritual Discipline of

Silence, Stillness & Solitude

Defining Terms

  • Solitude: The practice of being absent from other people and things to be attentive to God.
  • Silence: The practice of quieting every inner and outer voice to be attentive to God.
  • Stillness: The practice of letting go of our grip on life to relax in God.

Scripture on Stillness and Silence

  • "Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
  • "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him." Psalm 37:7
  • Moses answered, “Do not be afraid… The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus. 14:13-14
  • "When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent." Psalms 4:4-5
  • "Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near." Zephaniah 1:7

10 Resons We Don't Let Go

By Pete Scazzero from his blog entry: 10 Reasons We Don't Let Go

I, Pete, found myself listing the top reasons why I, along with so many others, continue to resist the very thing (our need to let go of control) that is the rich source of so much life and power.

The following are my top ten reasons:

  1. Fear. Is it any wonder God says to us over and over again in Scripture—Do not fear?
  2. Things will fall apart. That is true – at least the things that God never intended to remain in the first place. Regardless, we can only keep our plans and agendas from falling apart for a short time. Unless the Lord builds a house, we labor in vain who build it? (Ps. 127:1).
  3. I will fall apart. Yes, that is true, and it may be a very good thing. Our false selves, our protectiveness, and our striving need to be dismembered and dismantled by the Spirit. When we fall apart, it offers God the opportunity to rebuild us.
  4. Our family of origin. For many of us, things were out of control in our families growing up. We were helpless and, in some cases, victimized. So now, as adults, we resist letting go of our control of life.
  5. Past betrayals. A 26 year-old, young adult recently told me how impossible it is for him to trust God since he was betrayed by so many authority figures in his life. With humans this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matt 19:26).
  6. A distorted image of God. We serve a God who loves us with inexhaustible love and with no strings attached. Our heavenly Father seeks our good in any and every situation. Yet many of us relate to God as if He were an angry deity — demanding, and consistently frustrated with us. It is hard to let go and trust that kind of god.
  7. Lack of stillness and silence before Him. Without a dimension of silence and stillness in our lives (arguably two of the most difficult spiritual practices in the church today), we don’t offer the Holy Spirit space where He can tenderize our willfulness and turn it into willingness.
  8. Perfectionism. Many of us who seek excellence carry the shadow of a driving perfectionism. When we begin to learn to let go, we find that God is passionate that we become excellent at letting go and trusting Him (an interior state). And that is much more important to Him than having our environment marked by order and perfection (an exterior state).
  9. Limited View of Letting Go. This is not about answering an altar call, having a crisis moment of surrender, or praying this once a day. Letting go of control and trusting Jesus is the core of the Christian life – every day, every hour, every moment, of every day.
  10. Denial. A day is coming when our earthly days will be over. We will let go of everything – health, relationships, status, possessions. We are all very vulnerable. In a moment, our lives can completely change. To think that we are in control is an illusion.

There are few greater gifts we can give those we serve by letting go and trusting Jesus. And may you let go and experience the promise of Jesus: Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (John 12:24).

Guidelines for Silence and Stillness

By Pete Scazzero, from his blog entry: Silence - The Oxygen of a Christian Leadership

Silence forces us to face our “inner monsters,” confronting us with our addiction to being in control, and bringing us face to face with demonic powers and principalities. Why? They rage to prevent us from the deep knowing of God that comes out of being still before Him, or relaxing as one OT scholar translates it (Ps. 46:10). Few spiritual practices are more transformative and important.

Set your timer each day for 5 to 10 minutes over the next week. And consider the following guidelines...

  1. Sit down, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to help you settle into silence.
  2. Choose a very simple prayer to express your openness and desire for God. (e.g. Abba, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Here I am, Come Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus have mercy on me)
  3. Offer this prayer to Jesus, allowing His will full access in your life.
  4. When you become distracted, offer again your simple prayer back to God.

The Benefits and Blessings of Silence

By Pete Scazzero from his blog entry: Lose Life to Find It

Maggie Ross, in her Silence: A User’s Guide – Volume 1: Process, argues that the tradition of silence was handed down unbroken from the time of Jesus to the high Middle Ages when it was suppressed by the institutional church. She also offers a picture of the unimaginable richness that awaits us when we live from the wellspring of silence:

  1. We shift away from the artificiality of the surrounding culture toward the beauty of beholding Him.
  2. We learn discretion, the ability to wait and see what unfolds, more trusting of the love of God.
  3. We realize how foolish our ideas are of how the world works or should work, letting go more easily of judgments, anger and greed.
  4. We become increasingly free from our investment in self-image preservation.
  5. We become more compassionate to others.
  6. We develop a taste for being still, especially in the presence of beauty.
  7. We influence others for good out of the changes God is doing in and through us.
  8. We get in touch with reality as we suddenly rediscover a pair of glasses that had been on the table in front of us all the time but had been continually overlooked