Chapter 10 - Silence & Solitude

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney


The Disciplines of silence & solitude are the voluntary and temporary abstention from distraction so that certain spiritual goals might be sought.

Think of silence and solitude as complementary Disciplines to fellowship.

  • Biblical fellowship involves talking about God and the things of God.

  • Without silence and solitude we can be active, but shallow. Without fellowship we can be deep, but stagnant. Christlikeness requires both sides of the equation.

We have become a people with an aversion to quiet and an uneasiness with being alone. This is confirmed by the inability of many to ever be at home or in a car by themselves without turning on some “background noise.”


  • To follow Jesus' example - To be more like Jesus we must discipline ourselves to find times of silence and solitude. Then through these Disciplines we can pursue many of the blessings Jesus experienced through them.

  • To minimize distractions in prayer - The portability and accessibility of technology is a mixed blessing. While we should be grateful for its massive benefits, we should also recognize its invasive, distracting tendencies. The more we use audio and video technology, the more we need to learn the Disciplines of silence and solitude.

  • To express worship to God - There are times to speak to God, and there are times simply to behold and adore Him in silence.

  • To express faith in God - Verbalized prayers can sometimes be filled more with fear and doubt than faith; silence before the Lord can sometimes express more faith and submission to God’s providence than words.

  • To seek the salvation of the Lord - Solitude and silence can help us come to grips with the realities of our sin, death, judgment, and so on  — solemn themes that are frequently drowned out of our consciousness by the audio track of everyday life. Given the ubiquity of the sights and sounds conveyed by personal technology, how often do you think an unconverted person sits alone, attention undiverted, and considers himself or herself in light of the gospel?

  • To be physically and spiritually restored - Everyone has a regular need for restoring the resources of both the inward and outward person. It was true even for those who lived most closely with Jesus. After spending themselves in several days of physical and spiritual output, notice the means of replenishment Jesus prescribed for His disciples: “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6: 31). Doesn’t that sound good?

  • To regain a Spiritual perspective - What we are when we are alone is what we really are. If we habitually seek God and His perspective through His Word when we are alone  — and not just at church or when with other Christians  — then we may be hopeful that we do know God.

  • To seek the will of God - God often makes His will clear to us in public, but there are times when He discloses it only in private. To discover it requires the Disciplines of silence and solitude.

  • To learn control of the tongue - Learning to keep silent for short periods of time can help us better control our tongue all the time.

Will you seek extended times of silence and solitude? Plan for them. Put them on the calendar.

The time for silence and solitude will rarely be easy to chisel out of your schedule. The world, the flesh, and the Enemy of your soul will see to that. But if you discipline yourself to do it, your only regret will be that you didn’t start sooner.

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