Life-Changing Spiritual Disciplines: Silence and Solitude | John Black | 06-11-17

June 12, 2017

Life-Changing Spiritual Disciplines: Silence and Solitude

June 11, 2017

Notes and Application

Pastor John Black


Donald Whitney defines the spiritual discipline of Silence and Solitude as follows:

“The Discipline of silence is the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought.  Sometimes silence is observed in order to read, write, pray, etc.  Though there is no outward speaking, there are internal dialogues with self and with God.  This can be called “outward silence.”  Other times silence is maintained not only outwardly but inwardly so that God’s voice might be heard more clearly.”

“Solitude is the Spiritual Discipline of voluntarily and temporarily withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes.  The period of solitude may only last a few minutes or for days.  As with silence, solitude may be sought in order to participate without interruption in other Spiritual Disciplines, or just to be alone with God.”

“Silence and solitude are usually found together.” 


Six reasons we should practice silence and solitude in our lives:

  1. To follow the example set by Jesus

    • Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 4:42
  2. To hear the voice of God
    • 1 Kings 19:11-13, Habakkuk 2:1, Galatians 1:17
  3. To express worship to God
    • Zephaniah 1:7, Zechariah 2:13, Habakkuk 2:20
  4. To be physically and spiritually restored
    • Mark 6:31
  5. To gain or regain a proper spiritual perspective
    • Luke 1:20, Luke 1:63-64
  6. To control our tongues
    • James 1:26, Proverbs 17:27-28, James 1:19
  7. To seek the will of God
    • Luke 6:12-13

How to get started in the Spiritual Discipline of Silence and Solitude:

  • Set a goal each day to have an outward time of silence and solitude with God.
  • Start with “minute retreats” each day and build up to more focused time, over time.
  • Plan half-day or full day solitude retreats at least one time per year.


A.W Tozer said …

“Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place.)  Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelopes you … Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it.  Stop trying to compete with others.  Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think … Learn to pray inwardly every moment.  After a while you do this even while you work … Read less, but more of what is important to your inner life.  Never let your mind remain scattered for very long.  Call home your roving thoughts.  Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul.  Practice spiritual concentration.  All the above is contingent upon a right relationship to God through Christ and daily meditation on the Scriptures.  Lacking these, nothing will help us; granted these, the discipline recommended will go far to neutralize the evil effects of externalism and to make us acquainted with God and our own souls.” 


  • Most information above was adapted from Donald Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

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