Have you ever experienced a time when the presence of God seems noticeably absent?
In such times, you may feel a void of relationship even when your normal devotional disciplines remain constant and intact. You may be facing difficulty, or just as likely a season of tremendous success, yet there exists an elusive distance from the vibrant intimacy you once shared with God.
A number of years ago, I found myself in a place of apparent “God-absence.” With a usual share of challenges and victories in life and ministry, I had grown accustomed to a level of success initiated and sustained by grace. Unexplainably, deep in my soul something was missing. The closeness and familiarity with God had faded.
Intimacy with God has always been a priority for me. As a young believer, I chose Psalm 27:4 as my life verse: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his Temple” (NIV). To become a person of His presence has been a lifetime goal, but my current experience lacked what I desired most—God Himself.
During this rather shadowy time in my spiritual walk, I was introduced to the life-giving spiritual practice of “solitude and silence.” In truth, it was more of a dare than an introduction. The dare, from an old friend, went something like this: “I challenge you to spend 20 minutes in solitude and silence with God each day; but you won’t do it!”
I wish I could say that setting aside a time with God in silence came easy. Between sleepiness, “psychotic” mind wandering and the “painfully” slow passage of time, I was ready to give up. Maybe these disciplines worked a long time ago for monks, but I’m a contemporary, Spirit-filled believer!
Finally, after an especially frustrating attempt at 20 minutes of solitude, I broke the silence: “God, this is not working for me! It’s just a waste of time!” His gentle whisper entered the already interrupted space: “Really? It’s working just fine for me! If you will consistently 'waste' time with Me, I will transform your life.”
What a breakthrough moment! God gets something from my quiet presence because it invites His presence to change my soul in ways that only my silence can allow.
Most Christ-followers, like me, have been well schooled in the transactional prayer activities of petition, intercession and spiritual warfare. Less familiar transcendent forms of prayer such as reflection, solitude and silence are often overlooked. However, a reliance on language to create spiritual depth cannot substitute for the intimate knowledge of God found in the simplicity of silence. Nor can many words coerce answers.
God gets something from my quiet presence because it invites His presence to change my soul in ways that only my silence can allow.
God’s invitation is to wait with Him, not for Him. Verbal efforts to solve life’s complexities will diminish as our desire to “dwell … and gaze on the beauty of the Lord” restores the mystery of relationship.
Here comes the challenge: I invite you to spend consistent time in solitude and silence with God. Try these basic tips:
- Start: Begin with 10 minutes, and work on consistency.
- Find a place: Think convenient: a special chair or a more private area in your home. A place that will draw you in.
- Check your baggage: You are not indispensable; the world can go on without you for a few minutes.
- Prepare for the unexpected: Reflect and listen; what God shares might surprise you.
A simple exercise: Reflect and rest on each phrase of Psalm 46:10:
- “Be still and know that I am God.”
- “Be still and know that I am …”
- “Be still and know …”
- “Be still …”
- “Be …”
Welcome to the mystery of silence and solitude.
The Foursquare Church has three core Missional Objectives to guide our collective missional focus and develop a healthy culture in our churches. These include: (1) leadership development; (2) church and congregation multiplication; and (3) church health and transformation. Learn more about Foursquare’s Missional Objectives.