Introduction Solitude was one of the main disciplines Jesus engaged in throughout His ministry (Luke 5:16. NIV) The sole purpose is to commune with God alone and get rid of things in life that cloud your sight and hinder you from hearing God. It is in this place of close communion with God, the soul opens wide to listen and receive. It is achieved by eliminating anything that can distract you from focusing on God including people. Because I am now aware of this discipline of solitude, it has become a prominent discipline in my life.
Summarise your original understanding of the discipline before the course started My original understanding of this discipline was that time spent isolated and not doing anything was unproductive and I thought it was unwise to waste time like that. I could see the purpose of listening to God in solitude, but that was the extent of my understanding. A Significant Christian figure in history who has contributed to this discipline St. Benedict is considered to be the “Father” of western monasticism.
Western spirituality has been greatly influenced by the western monasticism which makes St. Benedict a main contributor to Western Orthodox spiritual tradition. Around the age of 20, Benedict pursued the discipline of prayer and solitude. Benedict was frequently sought after by would-be monks and began to instruct them in the spiritual life. St. Benedict began preaching the gospel in Monte Cassino and formed a Christian community. It was during his time in Monte Cassino his “Famous Rule” was designed and would later become the foundation stone of western spiritual discipline.
Compare at least one other denomination’s understanding of this discipline ‘Modern Day Hermits’ as they are known as, commit their entire life to solitude and prayer. They believe they are imitating Christ in what they do. In their view: “When [Catholics] see monks, they think we don’t do anything for anybody, but when a person does a good thing, it affects everybody. It’s the Communion of Saints. ” The Modern Day Hermits have the same understanding of solitude as we do but their practice of it is varied Because as mentioned, they dedicate their entire lives to it. We only dedicate varied lengths of time to this discipline.
They have also stated that Protestants seem to understand “the hermitic life” better than most Catholics. They get a lot of Protestant visitors, the hermits mentioned: Protestants see it in the element of the praying Church. When people come they are evangelized by the place. We have a similar view with the Modern Hermit. It seems Catholics don’t hold solitude in such a high priority. An individual experience Upon reading the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook my attention caught onto the fact it mentioned most of us understand the concept of solitude easily and we recognize it as something we wanted when we were first in love.
This idea that it is like seeking time alone with that special someone is very easy for me to understand. You purposely plan and go out of your way to be with that person, you will even travel vast distances for that cause. It is not merely escaping the busyness of the world just to be on your own and chill out. It is about removing all but one focus, purposely placing yourself before God to spend time listening and building your relationship with Him. Jesus often retreated from everyone to spend time alone with His Father.
If Jesus put such a high priority on this discipline of solitude then we should place the same value upon it. I have found that in solitude God speaks to me about the most important things, the things that mean the most to Him. When I am going through a season where I need guidance I can always turn to someone with more experience than me and get good and helpful advice, but when I seek God in those times what I receive is not only powerful in that moment but it strengthens our bond with one another.
I now realise how much God wants to be a part of every aspect of my life. He cares, a lot! A group experience Apart from the discipline itself, a small connect group or some friends could find a quiet place and seek God separately and then come together and share what they heard from God. What comes to mind is a weekend away camping for example, and even though people are around they understand what is happening when a member of the group is on their own and they can respect that and not interrupt.
A corporate experience I believe it is possible to be able to ‘zone out from what is happening around you and be alone with God in the moment and purely focus on talking with Him and listening. Solitude at a corporate event during worship would be a great time to utilize. Reflection on original ideas Instead of thinking of solitude as unproductive I now understand that it is crucial to building a relationship with God. Of course I knew the importance of spending time with someone in building relationship with people, but for some reason never adopted the concept between God and myself.
Now seeing the importance Jesus placed on solitude I now too engage in this discipline more frequently with a new and widened perspective. Encouraging the practise of this discipline Just like meeting someone new, spending time with them speaking, listening, and getting to know how the other person thinks is the only way to allow that relationship to flourish. If you neglect spending time with that person it is not going to work and there will be no bond between the two.
So when you spend time just with God you start to learn His heart and know His will for your life and for situations you come across. Your bond grows strong and you begin to rely on spending time with Him and it becomes unbearable when you don’t, as you long to be in His presence getting to know Him more. Conclusion With time spent in God’s presence and in solitude, removing distractions and placing a great priority upon solitude as Jesus did, your relationship with God will indeed become a strong relationship that you will constantly retreat to in all situations of life wether good or not so.