Week Two Practices
1. Solitude & Silence
2. Scripture Meditation
Solitude & Silence
WHAT IS SOLITUDE & SILENCE?
We all face seasons in life that are marked by a wilderness: moments of emptiness, meaninglessness, exhaustion, or wandering… Often, we don’t choose to enter these wilderness spaces but are forced into them by various circumstances in our lives. The wilderness is that place where we feel a void. It is a place of exhaustion, a place where we question ourselves and the meaning of our lives. The wilderness is painful and difficult. A deep sense of emptiness is not easy to wrestle with.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we see that he regularly and willingly went into the wilderness. Rather than seeing it as something to avoid, Jesus embraced the wilderness as a space for resting in the love of God and receiving his identity as a beloved child of God. Immediately after his baptism, Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days in the wilderness as a way to rest in his belovedness that was just spoken over him. This became a regular rhythm in Jesus’ life and ministry. Luke 5:16 says that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
What would it look like for us to willingly enter the wilderness to rest in our belovedness? In the Christian tradition, this has often been called the spiritual practice of Solitude & Silence.
Solitude, simply put, is about time for being alone with God. “Solitude is the creation of an open, empty space in our lives by purposely abstaining from interaction with other human beings, so that, freed from competing loyalties, we can be found by God” (Life with God Bible, page 531).
While solitude places us alone in the presence of God, silence eliminates the distracting noise of our world and focuses our attention on God. Rich Villodas, pastor and author from New York City writes, “The object of silent prayer is communion with God.” In the silent presence of God, we can listen to that still small voice speaking over us, “You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
HOW TO PRACTICE SOLITUDE & SILENCE
Solitude & Silence can be practiced in many ways. Consider taking a full day or more to go on a silent retreat. Also, try spending a few minutes in solitude & silence every day this week. Start with an amount of time that feels comfortable, and then try stretching yourself by adding a few minutes to that. Here is a brief guide to silent prayer:
1) Find a quiet place, settle into a comfortable position, and be reminded that God is closer than the air you breathe.
2) Embrace a posture of openness toward God. Try to allow any distractions to become opportunities to return to God, who welcomes you with open arms.
3) To give some structure to your time of prayer, you may find it helpful to try this step by step outline from Mama Maggie Gobran. Leave 15-30 seconds of silent space between each movement.
– First, silence your body to listen to your words.
– Then, silence your tongue to listen to your thoughts.
– Silence your thoughts to listen to your heart beating.
– Silence your heart to listen to your spirit.
– Silence your spirit to listen to God’s Spirit.
– Sit in this silence, listening to God’s Spirit, for a few minutes.
Try repeating the movements when you get distracted. Remember that the heart of this prayer practice is communion with God. “In silence, you leave the many to be with the One” – Maggie Gobran.
Interested in learning more about silence?
Check out this 3 minute video of Mama Maggie Gobran teaching about the power of silence as a spiritual practice.
WHY SHOULD WE MEDITATE ON SCRIPTURE?
When Satan was tempting Jesus in the wilderness, every time he responded by quoting scripture. How might our lives be formed more into the likeness of Christ if we consistently dwelled on the word of God? Ponder these words from the Scriptures.
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take, or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV).
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
HOW TO MEDITATE ON SCRIPTURE
- Begin by selecting a verse or phrase of Scripture. Be sure you have read the surrounding verses so that you can understand the verse or phrase in its context.
- Read the verse(s) several times, trying to remember the words as best you can.
- Slowly contemplate the verse word by word, thinking about each word and what it conveys about God’s character throughout history or in your life currently.
- Do the words reveal something about God, about ourselves, or perhaps our world? How can we respond to or pray about what these words mean? As appropriate, pray as you ponder the words of the verse(s).
Curious where to start? Here are a few options for some passages to contemplate. Psalm 23, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 1 Corinthians 13:12-13. John 3:16-17.
An Example of Scripture Meditation
If it would be helpful to see an example, below is a guided scripture meditation on Psalm 23:1 from Our Daily Bread.
Psalm 23:1 reads: “The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing.”
With a prayer for guidance from the Holy Spirit, we begin pondering this verse word by word.
God is revealing himself as the Lord. God is not one of many, but the only Lord and ruler over all. “Lord” reminds us of God’s great sovereignty, authority, and reign over all things.
“is my shepherd”
Why has God chosen to reveal Godself to his people as a “shepherd”? This speaks to us of God’s care, guidance, and love. But God is not simply a shepherd; God is “my shepherd.” That means God cares for me. God is willing and able to guide me. God watches over me with concern for my well-being.
“I lack nothing”
What do these words of assurance mean? The Spirit might comfort my heart by reminding me that because the Lord who reigns over all is my shepherd, I can rest assured that God will provide everything I need in life. I will not lack anything needed to follow God and do God’s will. God cares for me and takes responsibility for guiding me, so I can rest in God’s care with confidence. What can I pray in light of Psalm 23:1? Do I need to ask for help trusting the Lord more? Do I need to pray about some situation in which I need God’s shepherd-like care? Should I thank and praise God for God’s care in the past as well as the future?