Solitude is an important spiritual discipline that can bring you closer to God. In today’s busy world, it can be challenging to find extended times of solitude, but even short periods of intentional aloneness with God can renew your soul.
“Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6, KJV)
Our Lord Jesus Christ knew the value of solitude. Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus frequently withdrawing to desolate places to pray alone (Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16). He also called His disciples to come away by themselves to a deserted place and rest for a while (Mark 6:31).
Solitude is an ancient Christian spiritual discipline that has been practiced for centuries by monks, nuns, and desert fathers and mothers. However, solitude is not just for professional religious people. All Christians can benefit from regularly spending intentional, extended time alone with God.
Here are some key reasons why solitude is so important for your spiritual growth:
Key Takeaways about Solitude
- It allows you to disconnect from distractions and focus on God
- It provides space for self-reflection and examination
- It enables you to process emotions and find inner healing
- It refreshes your soul and renews your mind
- It helps you discern God’s voice and will
- It deepens your intimacy with Jesus
- It prepares you for deeper levels of spiritual encounter
In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore what the Bible teaches about solitude by looking at biblical principles, key verses, examples of biblical figures who practiced solitude, and some practical tips for cultivating this spiritual discipline in your own life.
Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, solitude is vital for your health and growth as a Christian. Make time to withdraw intentionally on a regular basis to be alone with God. He is waiting to meet with you!
Biblical Principles about Solitude
The practice of solitude is rooted in a few key biblical principles:
1. The inward life is important to God.
God cares about the inner state of your soul. 1 Samuel 16:7 says that “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Going into solitude creates space for God to speak to your heart.
2. Self-examination pleases God.
We are called to examine ourselves and our walk with God. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” Times of solitude provide opportunity for this self-examination.
3. Loving God requires focused devotion.
Loving and knowing God well requires extended, unhurried time focused on Him. Solitude provides this sort of focused time. Luke 10:39 highlights how Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him speak rather than being busy with other tasks.
4. Distractions hinder intimacy with God.
Our fast-paced, crowded lives can prevent intimacy with God. Solitude helps remove distractions that come between us and the Lord. Luke 10:40 describes how Martha was distracted by all her tasks while Mary sat with Jesus.
5. Rest restores the soul.
Just as our bodies need rest, so do our souls. Solitude is spiritual rest. Psalm 23 says God “makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”
6. Silence allows God to speak.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah discerned God’s gentle voice in the silence rather than loud wind, earthquake or fire. Silence makes room for God to speak to our hearts.
These principles illuminate why solitude is so valuable. God cares about our inward life, longs for intimacy with us, and wants to refresh us. Solitude helps facilitate this.
Key Bible Verses about Solitude
Many verses highlight the importance of solitude for spiritual growth. Here are some key Bible passages to meditate on:
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:25-26)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:30-31)
“For who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)
These verses emphasize the importance of silence, waiting, and seeking God in solitary places. They encourage solitude for spiritual refreshment.
Biblical Examples of Solitude
Many biblical figures set an example of pursuing solitude for spiritual renewal. Here are a few key examples:
Jesus: Jesus frequently practiced solitude and silence. In addition to His 40 days of solitude in the desert, Jesus often withdrew alone to pray in solitary places (Luke 5:16). He valued time alone with the Father.
David: David was a man after God’s own heart who treasured time in the Lord’s presence. He portrays a beautiful picture of someone longing for the presence of God in Psalm 63:1: “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”
Jacob: In Genesis 32, Jacob spent the night alone with God wrestling with Him in prayer. God drew near to him in this solitary night-time encounter.
Elijah: After performing great miracles, Elijah became afraid and ran into the wilderness alone to hide from Jezebel’s threats. God met him in the silence and renewed his spirit.
Jesus’ Disciples: Mark 6:31 reveals how Jesus called the disciples to come away into solitude because they hadn’t even had time to eat due to the crowds. They needed that solitary rest.
Mary: In Luke 10, Mary sat alone at the feet of Jesus listening to Him speak while her sister Martha was busy with work. Mary chose the greater solitary communion.
The Psalmist: Many psalms reveal the writers seeking God, thirsting for Him and waiting in hope. The psalmists model solitude.
As we can see through these examples, both heroes and ordinary people in the Bible sought solitude. God met them powerfully when they did.
Tips for Practicing Solitude
Here are some practical tips for cultivating solitude in your daily life:
1. Designate a regular time – Set aside a regular time slot specifically for solitude. Consistency is key. Early mornings often work well.
2. Remove distractions – Turn off your phone, computer, TV, etc. Remove anything that could take your attention away from God. Be still.
3. Journal – Writing can help process thoughts and emotions during solitude. Dialogue with God in a journal.
4. Meditate on scripture – Lectio divina, or meditating on the Bible, is a great way to fill solitude. Take a single verse and chew on it slowly.
5. Take a prayer walk – Combining solitude with walking outside appreciating nature can be very renewing. Let the natural beauty draw you to God.
6. Get creative – Solitude is a great context for creativity. Consider drawing, playing music, writing poetry, etc.
7. Fast from people – Give up social media and ordinary social interactions for part or all of your solitude time.
8. Silence & stillness – Don’t feel pressure to fill the time. Some of the most precious breakthroughs happen in silent stillness.
9. Rest afterward – Don’t rush back into normal rhythms. Ease slowly back into work/family life. Protect space for overflow.
Solitude ultimately creates more spaciousness in your soul and schedule. Guard that spaciousness and allow God to meet you there. He is waiting!
Objections to Solitude
Some common objections arise regarding solitude. It’s important to explore these:
1. I’m too busy – Our culture values busyness, but Jesus wasn’t too busy for solitude. Clarify priorities. Schedule it.
2. I can pray anywhere – You can pray anywhere, but immersing yourself in extended solitary prayer is very different from quick prayers on the go.
3. It’s unnecessary – Solitude might feel unnecessary when life seems fine. But regular solitude prevents problems and equips you for future trials.
4. It’s too uncomfortable – Solitude can be uncomfortable at first. Lean into the discomfort. Start small if needed. Comfort follows.
5. I’m too extroverted – Solitude is vital even for extroverts. Use shorter but consistent times if needed.
6. It’s unsafe – If your area isn’t safe, try nearby nature areas, parking your car, or turning home into a quiet sanctuary.
7. I get distracted – Distraction happens, but don’t let it discourage you. Gently return your focus to God.
8. I don’t know what to do – It doesn’t need to be complicated. Sit quietly. Enjoy God’s presence. Pray. Meditate on scripture.
Pushing through objections is worth it. Don’t allow busyness or discomfort to rob you of solitude’s joys. Lean on the Holy Spirit to help navigate it fruitfully.
Dangers & Pitfalls of Solitude
Solitude is vital but it’s important to be aware of a few potential dangers or pitfalls:
- Pride – Solitude can subtly make you feel “more spiritual” than others. Guard against pride in disciplines.
- Daydreaming – It’s easy to drift into fruitless daydreaming. Refocus regularly on God.
- Self-focus – Be wary of excessive self-absorption. Fill solitude with scripture to stay God-focused.
- Introspection – Some personality types can get stuck analyzing themselves. Move into prayer and worship.
- Self-condemnation – Don’t use solitude to beat yourself up. Receive God’s love and forgiveness.
- Condemnation of others – Don’t harbor critical thoughts towards others. Release judgements.
- Neglecting people – Don’t become so enamored with solitude that you avoid community. Seek balance.
- Escapism – Solitude shouldn’t simply be an escape from problems or hard relationships. Bring God into issues.
- Depression – Solitude can worsen depression for some. Seek counsel if needed.
With self-awareness and wisdom, these dangers can be avoided. Some discomfort is normal at first. Expect God to break through barriers in solitude!
In closing, cultivating a lifestyle of regular solitude is vital for your spiritual health and vitality. Our culture tends to value noise, busyness and distraction. But the Lord’s presence is found in silence and secrecy.
“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.” (Psalm 62:1)
Retreat frequently into solitary silence with Jesus. Wait patiently in His presence as He renews your soul. He will meet you there and infuse you with joy, wisdom and peace.
Your Father who sees your secret devotion to Him will reward you openly. May you treasure the simple yet profound pleasure of wasting your life at the feet of Jesus in solitude!