Growing in Grace: Slowing, Solitude, and Silence
Hello and welcome back to our series Growing in Grace. This segment is going to focus on three key disciplines of the Christian life: slowing, solitude, and silence. A. W. Tozer said, “The need for solitude and quietness was never greater than it is today.” Tozer is well known for his writings about how to thrive in Christ. I believe he is right when he says that we have a true need for solitude and silence like never before.
Growing in Grace is part of the Theology in Action program at Enlightium Academy, an accredited, online Prek-12 school. This is the fourth chapter of the Growing in Grace series and is also available in audio and video formats.
So what is slowing? One of my seminary professors defined slowing as “the intentional habit to disengage from the normal day-to-day pace.” An example of slowing in Scripture is seen in Mark 6:31, “And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” The disciples just finished journeying and sharing the Gospel, engaging in spiritual warfare. They were worn out, yet people were still coming to them. So, Jesus’ words were timely, as He called his disciples to step out of the action and slow down. Jesus was having his disciples disengage from the normal day-to-day. In a similar manner, Jesus is calling us to disengage.
Disengaging from the normal pace comes with a challenge. The challenge is that we do not live in an atmosphere of slowness. Our days are pressed so tightly that it is not uncommon to hear fellow Christians say, “I do not have time to read my Bible.” The encouragement is this: just like we make time to put on our shoes, brush our teeth, or enjoy a TV show, we can make time to slow down, especially to read a Bible verse or two.
The purpose and results of slowing are multifaceted. The essential purpose is that it gives your heart and mind an opportunity to rest and re-center; you can actually reflect on God and His presence and purposes in your life. This purges confusion and ultimately preserves God’s people from compromises (i.e., the purpose and result of slowing).
The next two disciplines are solitude and silence. Solitude and silence go hand in hand. Solitude is the spiritual discipline of withdrawing from the day-to-day routine to a private place. An example of this comes in Luke 6:12, “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” While under the scrutiny of the religious leaders, Jesus committed himself to setting aside time for solitude and silence before His Father. In this same way, we ought to make time for solitude and silence before our heavenly Father.
Solitude and silence, like slowing, come with challenges. Because our culture is conditioned to the noise and fast-paced motion of thought and life, it is actually strange and difficult to set aside time and find a private place. So, we must plan ahead and make a decisive commitment to find both the time and place for solitude. It takes planning and effort. Your day fills up quickly, so making a conscious effort to plan is essential.
The purposes and results of solitude are many. Here are three purposes: regaining a God-centered perspective, spiritual and physical restoration, and self-reflection. The results are unanimous with the purposes, such as receiving a God-centered perspective, obtaining healing (heart, mind, and body), and recentering of one’s affections on what matters in life.
Slowing, solitude, and silence are wonderful ways to grow in Christ. Jesus exemplified these practices in His ministry and called his disciples to practice them as well. May we receive this call and set apart time to disengage and enter a place of solace before our heavenly Father.