In Way of the Heart, Henry Nouwen writes that solitude and silence is the furnace for God’s transformation. When we internalize emotions like anger, our anger can lead to resentment and paralyze our hearts. I would only add that solitude and silence is one of the most powerful ways for God to heal and restore us. For when we are in a place of silence before God, we begin to recognize the ways our bodies resist God and fight for control over what we are worried about especially in places where we know God is calling us to repent. It is hard to mentally run from God when we are physically being still in a time set a part. Let us remember that God is the one whose mighty power invites us to be still before Him. This is not an act simply done by our own works but on the mercy and grace of God.
When we look at Psalm 46:10, the Psalmist speaks on the importance that we are called to, “be still, and know that I am God!” My first reaction to reading that passage many times is a defensive reaction with some form of “But God!…” It is a confession of my heart that often forgets that in silence, it can feel more like our surrender where God is the one who helps us let go of the strongholds that have been on our minds that are not good for our bodies and selves. May the words of the beginning of Psalm 46:1 remind us that, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
One of the reasons for practicing solitude and silence is not about us being silent but silencing the voices that compete with the voice of God in our minds. Social media is one of the modern examples of how we can understand the ways that our desires and wants are revealed through advertisements on many social media platforms. Let us be reminded that it is with God’s mighty voice that creates the entire universe. It is that same power and might that is spoken to us when we gather to pray. This is why we don’t come to God carelessly because as God reveals God’s self to us, we may begin to know God more intimately. In the New Testament, Jesus many times went off to pray alone and sometimes with His disciples (Luke 5:15-16). Therefore, Jesus models the practice of Solitude and Silence with us as an embodied reality of faithfulness.
Practice for this week:
- Instead of looking at spiritual practices as a set of rules for the week, let us form spiritual rhythms into how we can live faithfully with God. This can be done daily, weekly, and even monthly. I encourage us to reflect in silence today for 5 minutes turning the phone over, find a quiet space to be alone with God, and practice being still, asking God for help to let go of all the things on your mind. Pay attention to your body and the ways your body is speaking to you as well. Let the furnace of transformation remind us that God is for you, not against you. So may God answer your needs to let go of the wounds and restore you.
- Imagine and write down some areas where you need healing. If it is uncomfortable to sit in silence, bring the uneasiness before God. For we believe in a living God and give thanks for God’s presence in our lives.
We will be practicing solitude and silence this week together as a community for our Wednesday Lenten Prayer Gathering at 7pm on Zoom and know that none of us are called to live out this Christian life alone. May God bless all of you this week, First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood!
Fraser Fellow and Pastoral Intern