Weekly Devotional: The Gift of Silence and Solitude

Red Chair on salt flats, facing the distance - stock photo

Today, it can be difficult to find moments of silence and solitude, especially within the life of a college student. Oftentimes, when we do find a moment, we choose to fill it with Netflix, friends, music or our own thoughts. Take a moment to ponder the question, What could my life look like if I created a consistent rhythm of silence and solitude?

So, what is silence and solitude? Author John Mark Comer says it is alone time with God as the only input, who has direct access to your soul.1 While it may sound daunting or lonely at first, it is a spiritual practice crucial to sustaining our limited selves.

In This Article:

Why Silence and Solitude?

Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth! — Psalm 46:10, ESV

As we’ve discussed the purpose of spiritual formation and how we can be formed further into the image of Christ, the spiritual practice of silence and solitude presents an opportunity to do so. In a culture marked by hustle, multi-tasking and constant noise, silence and solitude is a gift to commune with the Lord and instead be marked by his rest, peace and love. In fact, author John Ortberg says that love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible.2 When we take a moment to slow down and fix our eyes on Jesus, we can become better vessels of his love.

Silence and Solitude in Scripture

It is important to note that we do not engage in this spiritual practice merely for our own benefits or because it sounds appealing, but because Scripture is filled with it. Practicing silence and solitude is practicing the way of Jesus, as he consistently sought out places of solidarity. Therefore, it should be a regular spiritual practice for us as well. Here are a few examples we see in Scripture:

  • Jesus began his ministry with solitude (Matthew 4:1-11).
  • After a long day of ministry, “he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray,” (Matthew 14:23, ESV).
  • Before the cross, Jesus goes to Gethsemane with his disciples and says, “Sit here while I go over there and pray,” (Matthew 26:36, ESV).
  • “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed,” (Mark 1:35 ESV).
  • Here, we see Jesus practicing in community. He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” (Mark 6:31-32).

Time and time again, we read of Jesus stepping away from the noise of the world and into a quiet, solitary place to be with the Father in prayer.

Invitation to Silence and Solitude

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. — Matthew 6:6, ESV

While I’m sure most people would agree time in silence and solitude sounds fulfilling, it may not sound realistic. I want to encourage you to accept God’s invitation to the secret place. However long or short, however distracted and imperfect, find moments to rest in the presence of the Lord and watch how it begins to form you. Here are some practical implications to begin making silence and solitude a consistent rhythm in your life:

  • Start with a simple five minutes per day. Perhaps, before you reach for your phone in the morning or begin getting ready, take five minutes to rest with Jesus.
  • Go on a walk. Spending time in silence and solitude can be enjoyed in nature, in the Lord’s very creation.
  • Plan a monthly hike with friends. Instead of engaging in conversation throughout the entirety of the hike, consider spending time in silence as you go up the trail, and discuss your experiences on the way down.

Theologian Robert Mulholland says the spiritual practice of silence and solitude is a radical reversal of our cultural tendencies. Silence is the act of letting go and relinquishing our control to God.

If you have a desire to learn more about the spiritual practice of silence and solitude, consider adding a Spiritual Formation and Discipleship minor to your degree or attending GCU’s Spiritual Formation workshops. Fill out the form on this page to learn more. 

Comer, J. (2021, March 12). What is Silence & Solitude? Bridgetown Church. YouTube. Retrieved on April 23, 2024.

Ortberg, J. (2015, May 5). The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. Zondervan. Retrieved on April 23, 2024.

Mulholland, R. (2016, April 25). Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation. IVP. Retrieved on April 23, 2024. 

Approved by the local outreach ministry coordinator on April 30, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.