Become – Silence and Solitude – Stephen Orr 11/04/21

Passage: 1 Kings 19-13 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
9 And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Kingdom Kids Activity

We need Silence and Solitude

We live in a noisy world where distraction is normal, and it is damaging our relationship with God.

Again and again, as we pursue spiritual life, we must do battle with hurry. For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them. (John Ortberg in ‘The Life You’ve Always Wanted’)

As human beings, we are wired for worship. We can’t help it. In a sense, we are always worshipping something. It’s not a case of will we worship but what will we worship? We are created to love and worship our creator, and in his absence we feel a kind of cosmic loneliness and we will try almost anything to fill the emptiness inside. And emptiness we most often feel when we stop, because this is when what lies below the busyness of our lives begins to surface.

Anxieties, questions, regrets, numbness, boredom, anger, loneliness, fear, habits that demand to be satisfied. The wild animals of our unruly thoughts begin to gather at the waterhole of our subconscious minds. There are so many ways to stave these things off, but perhaps none so powerful and persuasive as our smart phones. For most of us, this little screen has become the hub of our life, and it is capable of shaping or attitudes, or desires, our politics, our beliefs. We never have to be silent or at rest or alone. Have a two minute wait for a friend? We turn to our phone. Bored by what we are watching on TV? We turn to our phone. Walking down the street and have some headspace to fill? We turn to our phone. But it is a false friend. It gets to know all about us, or desires and fears; then, just at our most vulnerable moments, it offers to satisfy them – for a price. We, the user, have become the product. Unless we take charge of these in our lives and keep our focus on God, turning our hearts and our minds towards him through worship, prayer, reading our bibles and waiting in silence to listen for God’s voice, we will be no more than disciples of the secularised culture around us.  

Often almost tempted to distract ourselves when what we really, really need is communion with God. We are tempted to these lesser consolations instead, but that’s not forget the consolation prizes or to cheer up the loser, not reward the winner! There is something so much better for us. Something that will truly satisfy. 

(Graham Kendrick ‘Why Worship? Insights into the wonder of Worship’)

Are we willing to admit we have a problem and embrace Jesus’ solution?

Jesus told us Silence and Solitude is important when praying. Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

The connection between Stillness and Knowing God

Psalms 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God;

Psalms 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;

Here we touch the question of discipline in the spiritual life. A spiritual life without discipline is impossible. Discipline is the other side of discipleship. The practice of a spiritual discipline makes us more sensitive to the small gentle voice of God. (Henri Nouwen in ‘Bringing Solitude into Our Lives’)

Inward solitude has outward manifestations. There is the freedom to be alone, not in order to be away from people but in order to hear the divine whisper better. (Richard Foster in ‘Celebration of Discipline’ )

The Example of Jesus

We are addicted to information and noise, continually overloading our senses; we have lost our ability to be quiet.  

Time and space to be quiet as counter cultural and they take some practice. If we need a reminder of how important it is, we can just look at the fact that Jesus regularly withdrew from others to spend time with his father. If the son of God needed this, how much more do we?

(Graham Kendrick ‘Why Worship? Insights into the wonder of Worship’)

  • Matthew 4:1-11, Forty day alone in the desert
  • Mark 1:35, at the start of his ministry in the midst of busyness and success he got up early and went to a lonely place
  • Luke 6:12, Jesus alone in the desert hills before choosing the 12.
  • Matthew 14:13, Jesus withdrew in a boat to a lonely place after hearing of the death of John the Baptist
  • Matthew 14:23, after feeding the 5000 Jesus went up into the hills alone
  • Mark 6:31, after the 12 returned from preaching and healing Jesus instructed them to come away to a lonely place
  • Luke 5:16, after healing a leper Jesus withdrew to the wilderness and prayed
  • Matthew 17:1-8, for his transfiguration he took 3 disciples to the silence of a high mountain
  • Matthew 26:36-46, Jesus when to the garden alone to pray with some of his friends close

As we seek to fulfil our vision, Silence and Solitude enables us to become more like Jesus

God uses Silence and Solitude

  • Genesis 6:8-9, Noah walked with the Lord
  • Exodus 6, Moses was in the wilderness tending sheep and God appeared to him
  • 1 Kings 19:9-13, Elijah in the cave was encouraged by God
  • Daniel 6, Daniel prayed 3 times a day and look how God used him
  • Jonah 2, Jonah in the big fish and this time changed in him
  • John 4, Jesus at the well gave him the opportunity for ministry

As we quieten down, what is really going on begins to rise to the surface. We begin to bring our true selves before our father, letting go our own agendas and making space for him to speak to us. We can worship without words, our hearts in awe of God, offering him all we have in the simplicity of our silence.  

(Graham Kendrick ‘Why Worship? Insights into the wonder of Worship’)

The Prayer of Examen

Richard Foster explains that, “In our busy, hectic world, it is easy to run from one thing to the next without much thought of God’s presence and purpose in our daily life. The Prayer of Examen emerged in the sixteenth century as a way to help believers recognize instances of God’s grace in the course of the day just ended. By learning to give attention to God’s grace in our lives, we come to know and love him more and more.

Follow these four simple steps (From the Prayer Course click for the link)

  1. Replay – think over your day like a movie replaying in your head. Notice what you are noticing. What made you happy? What made you anxious? What made you angry?
  2. Rejoice – thank God for those things which are obvious. But also thank Him for non-obvious things which we sometimes forget – random acts of kindness, being healthy, a positive song or meal. Relish and savour these moments in gratitude to God.
  3. Repent – say sorry to God for moments that come to into your mind as you review the day e.g., getting involved in gossip, reacting with a tone that was aggressive, lacking compassion in a situation, ignoring a need, not responding to a nudge. Receive His forgiveness afresh.
  4. Reboot – make a decision in your heart to live for Jesus tomorrow and ask for grace to see His presence more clearly.
    The Examen can take five minutes or one hour. If you do it once – it will be useful – if you do it every day, it can bring transformation.

Apply

Survey how you use your average day, what do you do, what voices speak into it, how much time do you spend on devices?

What impact do you think this is having on you? Are you addicted to distraction?

How can you reduce the distractions in your life?

Prioritise time each day for Silence and Solitude, you may start small, 10 minutes a day, it is important that you start somewhere.

What have I found interesting? 

What has challenged my life, attitudes and actions

How would this habit help me to become more like Jesus?

How would this habit help me to introduce others to Jesus?

What practical steps do I need to take to incorporate this habit into my life?

Is there there anything I need to pray about, explore further or extra help I need?

Is there someone I should to share with, pray with or encourage?

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