As of late, there is within me a strong desire to be alone in the wilderness. To just have time to clear my head and to seek the face of God. I am reminded in Scripture that Moses’ and Paul’s time in the wilderness transformed them into great leaders, but my times away are stolen fading moments. These men were both transformed by their isolation in a remote wilderness.
Donald Whitney in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, says “When we think with balance we realize that it would be neither right nor desirable to be cloistered from our God given responsibilities involving other people. Biblically reality call us to family, fellowship, evangelism, and ministry for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. And yet through the Holy Spirit, “deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7) in such a way that there is a part that craves silence and solitude.”
So one has to find balance in these dual pulls in life. In order to have power and strength, wisdom and direction in service to the multitudes, you have to spend time away from them and with the Father. This is the spiritual discipline of silence and solitude. So I go to the mountain (or Gathland State Park), which is only a couple of miles from my home. I carry a Gideon New Testament and hike. I’ll stop and read, pray and mediate — then hike some more. Some times I’ll go for miles, other times less than a mile.
There are several biblical examples of this practice. Elijah went to Mt. Horeb to hear the whisper of God (1 Kings 19:11-13), Habakkuk stood guard alone to see what God would say to him, and Paul went to Arabia after his conversion so he could be alone with God (Galatians 1:17).
It is sometimes stressing to be alone with your own thoughts. How many times do we drown them out with noise so that we won’t have to listen? So not only do I go to the mountain to converse and listen for God’s voice but I also try to put my own thoughts in order. For a guy, this is easier if you are physically doing something — I know the Bible says “be still and know I am God,” but sometimes I just need to move (in silence) in order to be still later. I just need to get some things out of my system.
Whitney gives several reasons why a Christian should practice solitude and silence:
to follow Jesus’ example,
to hear the voice of God better,
to express worship to God,
to express faith in God,
to seek the salvation of the Lord,
to be physically and spiritually restored
to regain a spiritual perspective,
to seek the will of God, to learn to control the tongue
For me it’s to be physically and spiritually restored, and even though I haven’t been doing it for very long, I can feel the difference. Why don’t you try it, and let me know how it went?