|Solitude - The following passages offer three insights into the discipline of solitude.
Bible Reading: Matthew 14:1-14
Key Bible Verse: As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns (Matthew 14:13).
What happened just before Jesus left? What might have been his motivation for seeking solitude in a remote place?
How did Jesus respond to the crowd’s interruption?
Reflection: Solitude can be time to deal privately with pain. Jesus sought solitude after the news of John’s death. Sometimes we may need to deal with our grief alone. Jesus did not dwell on his grief, but returned to the ministry he came to do.
Bible Reading: Matthew 14:22-33
Key Bible Verse: After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone (Matthew 14:23).
Estimate the amount of time Jesus spent praying alone after he sent away the crowd and his disciples.
Describe a time when you needed to spend an extended period of time alone with God. What was the result of this experience?
Reflection: Solitude can be time spent with God. Seeking solitude was an important priority for Jesus. He made room in his busy schedule to be alone with the Father. Spending time with God in prayer nurtures a vital relationship and equips us to meet life’s challenges and struggles. Develop the discipline of spending time alone with God—it will help you grow spiritually and become more and more like Christ.
Bible Reading: Luke 4:38-44
Key Bible Verse: Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them (Luke 4:42).
What did Jesus do to find solitude?
How can you introduce times of solitude into your regular schedule?
Reflection: Solitude is important for prayer and refreshment, but will only be possible if we make it a priority. Jesus had to get up very early just to get some time alone. If Jesus needed solitude for prayer and refreshment, how much more is this true for us? Don’t become so busy that life turns into a flurry of activity leaving no room for quiet fellowship alone with God. No matter how much you have to do, you should always have time for prayer.
Silence - The following passages provide two insights into the discipline of silence.
Bible Reading:Job 2:11-13
Key Bible Verse: Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words (Job 2:13).
Why was silence appropriate in Job’s circumstances? What are the dangers in speaking at the wrong time?
When have you been too overcome with emotion to speak?
Reflection: Often the best response to another person’s suffering is silence. Why did the friends arrive and then just sit quietly? According to Jewish tradition, people who come to comfort someone in mourning should not speak until the mourner speaks. Job’s friends realized that his pain was too deep to be healed with mere words, so they said nothing. (If only they had continued to sit quietly!) Often, we feel we must say something spiritual and insightful to a hurting friend. Perhaps what he or she needs most is just our presence, showing that we care. Pat answers and trite quotations say much less than empathetic silence and loving companionship.
Bible Reading: Psalm 46:1-11
Key Bible Verse: Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world (Psalm 46:10).
What qualities of God are highlighted in this psalm?
In light of these characteristics, why would silence be an appropriate response to God?
When this week can you schedule time to worship God in silence?
Reflection: Silence is one of the best expressions of respect for God. War and destruction are inevitable, but so is God’s final victory. At that time, all will stand quietly before the Lord Almighty. How proper, then, for us to be still now, reverently honoring him and his power and majesty. Take time each day to be still and to exalt God.
This study is adapted from the Handbook of Bible Application (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2000), available everywhere books are sold.