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The Discipline of Solitude in Everyday Life

The Discipline of Solitude in Everyday Life

Author - Kim Butts

Over the past several months, I have found myself longing for more opportunities for solitude…for time with God that for this season of my life seemingly can only be found in the peaceful, set apart spaces. More than a quiet time, more than sitting alone in silence for a few minutes of the day…I need to make room for unhurried stillness so I can just be…and so I can hear God’s voice with greater clarity.

I have taken a couple of retreats that involved complete solitude for long stretches…even several days…and I struggled. I am a people person…my thoughts go wild even when I intentionally purpose to take each one captive! What, I wondered, unnerves me so much about leaving the familiarity of people, my busy life and technology to fix my full attention upon God? 

But then I read a passage from a compilation of Henri Nouwen’s prayerful life, The Only Necessary Thing, which has transformed my hesitancy into an urgent expectancy:

“Although the discipline of solitude asks us to set aside time and space, what finally matters is that our hearts become like quiet cells where God can dwell, wherever we go and whatever we do. The more we train ourselves to spend time with God and God alone, the more we will discover that God is with us at all times and in all places. Then we will be able to recognize God even in the midst of a busy and active life. Once the solitude of time and space has become a solitude of the heart, we will never have to leave that solitude. We will be able to live the spiritual life in any place and any time. Thus the discipline of solitude enables us to live active lives in the world, while remaining always in the presence of the living God.” 

What first gripped me was the imagery of my heart becoming like a quiet cell (I imagined one that I was housed in at a retreat center a few years ago) where God can dwell. I began to ask the question, “What could I learn about myself through the discipline of solitude that would inform my everyday life in the way Nouwen describes?” My prayer is that solitude becomes a hospitable place in which to position my heart toward being able to dwell there continually. So – I’m sharing this small beginning of a journey with you that I hope will surface in other future blog posts as I trek into the discipline of solitude and what God might be pleased to teach me there. Currently, this is an expression of desire only as I seek God’s face for the way forward. 

Father, allow my heart to become a quiet cell where You are welcome to dwell. Transform my everyday life so that I may always remain in Your presence, no matter what is going on around me or within me.

(c) Harvest Prayer Ministries 2015

***I wish we could dialog more fully on this site about this topic; however, there are others who have placed inappropriate content or advertising in our comment section, so we now have to police them carefully. Feel free to comment, knowing that we are unable to get everything posted in a timely manner due to new screening procedures. Wish it was different, but it is what it is. We will just trust that comments will bless others! Thanks for your patience and understanding!,

8:56 AM Wednesday, April 01, 2015

I can't agree more with the need for quiet solitude with God to tune our ears to hear His voice. Jesus' set the example for us. Recently, we set up a prayer room for the children of our church and included a Face to Face area where they could picture Jesus sitting across from them and simply talk to Him. Although there were eight other wonderful prayer stations, this one seemed to be the favorite. At one point I looked and saw a rather long line of children waiting to have this quiet, alone time with the Lord. It made me smile. We had explained that they could pray anywhere, any way and any time but realized that this special station was representative of something deeper. About that time, a parent called out to their child to leave the line and come as they had another engagement to go to. Seeing the look on that child's face saddened me. I could only imagine that must be what God feels when we are too busy to give Him our undivided attention.,

10:58 AM Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thanks, Kim, for sharing this beautiful nugget. How I long for this too. I have always sought after quiet spaces with God (whether physical or not). Being a reflective type, these times are maybe less difficult for me, but taking it WITH me back into daily life - now that's of great value! I really look forward to you sharing more from your walk along this path. Blessings!,

11:42 PM Monday, March 09, 2015

thank you for sharing you thoughts and journey . i too am searching to have a closer relationship with the lord .

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