Silence and Solitude

Have you ever thought about the importance of silence and solitude in your spiritual growth and formation? I come from a tradition and culture that places a high value on being busy and doing things for God, so much so, that taking time to sit quietly and enjoy the presence of God is often neglected.

I have discovered how to reshape and renew my heart through the practice of solitude and silence.  It is not an easy discipline.  Through this discipline I came to realize how noisy my world is, and how accustomed I had become to the surround noise and activity.  I have also discovered how difficult it is to find a place where this noise does not invade my heart.

Silence makes some people feel uncomfortable, even anxious.  I know people who must have some kind of noise in the room at all times; so this discipline is not for everyone.  Silence and solitude, however, is more than just the absence of noise, or conversations with others. Even when I find a quiet place, my solitude is easily compromised by my preoccupation with the “to-do-list” for today, or the “should-have-done-list” from yesterday.

Silence is a quality of the heart! Abba Poemen, a Fifth Century Desert Father said,

“A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night, and yet he is truly silent.”

Silence therefore, is not the goal, rather the means to an end – to glorify  God and enjoy Him forever!

Noise, whether it comes from the outside world, or from within our heart, can rob us of one of one of the most precious and powerful experiences of our lives – enjoying communion with the Father.  Noise also keeps us from reflecting honestly on who we are, and where we are in relation to God and others. Sometimes, noise gives us a false sense security, because if we’re active, achieving something, moving forward, and getting things done, we must be okay.

The essence of silence and solitude is found in the words of Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”  You don’t have to spend the day in silence in order to “be still and know.” Yet, how often is there enough silence in our lives to really hear God?  When do we take time to be still?  We truly “hear” God when we are intentionally listening – and, being still precedes listening. The “peace that passes all understanding”  (Phil. 4:7) often comes when we are willing to block out the noise of the world, and really listen.

Jesus set the example for us. He often left His disciples and His followers to be alone with His Father. (Matthew 14:23; Luke 9:18; John 6:15) If it was important for Jesus, don’t you think it is important for us? Yet, how many of us practice silence and solitude? How many of us know what it means to be unhurried, quiet, and to truly rest in His presence?

Published by Larry Doyle

Dr. Larry Doyle served as the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association from September 1, 2003, to May 31, 2016. Since retiring from the Piedmont Baptist Association in 2016, Dr. Doyle has served as interim pastor and pulpit supply for several churches in the Piedmont Triad area. He served the Pinecroft Baptist Church from August 2018 to October 2020. His ministry began in the pastorate in Kentucky, his native state. He served as pastor of three churches while completing his undergraduate, graduate and post graduate degrees. (1968–1979) He and his wife Becky, a native of Greensboro, served as missionaries with the International Mission Board in Ecuador from 1980 to 1992. They returned to North Carolina where Larry pastored the Union Cross Hispanic Baptist Church in Kernersville from 1992 to 2000. In January 2001 he and Becky moved Honduras where they served as the On-site Coordinator for Disaster Relief with the North Carolina Baptist Men, coordinating volunteer teams in rebuilding houses and churches after the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. Upon returning from Honduras in January 2002, Larry served as the International Ministries Director for Baptist Metrolina Ministries in Charlotte, NC, a position he held until answering the call to become the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association in Greensboro, NC in September 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University, and received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Today Larry enjoys “Strengths Coaching” and mentoring pastors and church leaders. He also enjoys finding, refinishing and repurposing old, discarded furniture. Larry and Becky have two sons, Steve and Tim, and are the proud grandparents of five.

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