Is solitude good or bad? Does solitude help or hurt our Christianity? Is solitude an ingredient for hearing God?
Yesterday, I was doing some cardio on the treadmill in my basement while listening to an audio format of the Bible. I was tracking pretty well with what was being read to me, but then the heater came on. I could still hear the words quite clearly, but I could also hear the heater. I only realized my mind was drifting into the worthless space of “lala land” when the heater finally clicked off. Suddenly it was much easier to simply hone in on the words being read.
Solitude Is Good or Bad Depending On How It’s Used
So is solitude good or bad? Is solitude an ingredient for hearing God? John the Baptist heard the word of God in the wilderness, God spoke to Moses in the desert, and Jesus often went to “solitary places” to pray. However, before Jesus casted out Legion, this group of demons drove their host to the tombs, a solitary place (Mark 5:3). And from personal experience, we all know that when we are alone we do not always hear the voice of God. Often times only when we are in solitude will we feel bold enough to sin in the most shameful ways. Solitude can even be a punishment in prison (solitary confinement) or in school (detention).
Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that solitude alone can drive a man crazy just as easily as it can help us settle our thoughts and hear God.
Solitude Is Good for Christians Seeking to Hear God’s Voice/Direction
But surely our own thoughts must settle before there is enough room in our hearts and minds to really hear the voice we need to hear the most. And solitude does help with this. As Dr. Frizzell explained in his book, How to Develop a Powerful Prayer Life, “He speaks most to those who consistently still their hearts to listen.” Solitude is not the point, “stilling our hearts” to hear God is the point, and solitude helps us do this.
Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him . . . . ” The noise of everyday life numbs the Christian’s mind and heart to the voice of God. To be of any use to those we love and to this lost world, Christians must daily remove ourselves and seek solitude with God to strengthen our connection with him.
Solitude Is Bad for Christians If They Stay There
But to stay in solitude is selfish for the Christian. John heard God’s words in the solitude of the wilderness, but then he left the solitude and took those words to the people. We are called to make disciples, to go where the people are. Solitude can help Christians do this because we must first be intimately connected with God so we have Christ’s message and love to give to others.
It is much harder to receive what God wants to give with all the noise numbing our senses. This world is like the dull drum of the heater in my basement. You will never know how much it is numbing your senses to God until you remove yourself from it. We must leave the masses and go into solitude with God so that we can come back with a message to help them.
May we take the time to consistently still our hearts to listen. God’s always speaking, but we don’t always hear him. That’s on us. And may God grant us the grace to quiet ourselves before him, waiting patiently for his words, resting in his presence, searching his Scriptures to become familiar with the voice we need to know so badly. And then may we take God’s words we received in solitude and go to the masses, to love others out of our love for God.
So is solitude good or bad for Christians? It depends on what we are using it for. Using solitude to connect with God is good. Using solitude to escape from serving people is bad.