Donald S. Whitney defines the discipline of silence as “the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought”, and the discipline of solitude as the voluntary and temporary “withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes”.[i] The ultimate goal of silence and solitude are for those who are practicing them to become better listeners in regards to hearing the voice of God. The practice involves the absence of speech and the act of listening intently. We find that the practices are often combined because solitude cannot be achieved without silence.[ii]
The practices include the following[iii]:
- Setting a period of time in which you don’t speak but isolate yourself from sounds (other than perhaps the sound of nature)
- Driving or commuting without the radio turned on
- Leaving the TV off and spending some alone time with God
- Giving God time and space that is not in competition with social contact, noise or stimulation
- Addressing your addition to being seen
Benefits of practicing:
- Being attentive to God’s voice
- Freedom addictions to noise or sound (radio, TV, phone, iPod, internet, ect.)
- Having a deeper intimacy with God
- Developing increased listening skills
- Quieting internal noise so you can better listen to God
[i] Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991) 184.
[ii] Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005) 40.
[iii] Adele Ahlberg Calhoun Spiritual Discipline Handbook (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2005) 107 – 114.