“In a child or a flower or a tree we are all aware that when there is no growth there is something wrong. Healthy life . . . will always show itself by progress and increase. It is just the same with our souls.” (Ryle, Holiness, 84)
In our last 2 installments of this brief series, “How to Overcome Spiritual Mediocrity,” we discussed the importance of reading and praying. (It can be found below.) In this next spot, we’ll cover: solitude and meditation.
Solitude and meditation are grossly underplayed in our busy culture. When you’re spending time in solitude and meditation, and feel the urge to tweet about it, you can smile and acknowledge this business with me! Listen — it’s difficult to disconnect yourself from the world. For now, here are some of ways in which solitude and meditation benefit us.
At times, solitude and meditation offer what noise and chatter simply can’t — and won’t: perspective. We simply can’t gain perspective sometimes when the noise of this world is drowning out even our own thoughts. Here are some biblical thoughts on the topic.
- Psalm 4:4 says — “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.”
- 1 Kings 19:9ff — a very anxious Elijah is calmed by a whisper.
- Zephaniah 1:7 — “Be silent before the Lord God!”
- Luke 1 — the story of Zechariah shows how silence gives perspective.
Although I’m not a fan of the word (or the idea), balance is something that we all need (I simply don’t believe it’s the end-all of every problem). Like a regular visit to the chiropractor, a regular season of solitude and meditation provides balance for the lack of harmony in our souls, minds, and spirits. And sometimes, like the visit to the chiropractor also demonstrates, we don’t know just how “off” we are until we’ve had the adjustment.
Jesus is a wonderful example of someone who regularly sought after solitude for the purpose of prayer and meditation. Whether before or after a busy day, he determined to make time for quiet and prayer. Here are some examples to follow.
- Mark 1:35; 6:30ff.
- Mark 6:43ff.
So what is it . . . really?
Logistically, what does solitude and meditation look like? Well, it’s not the occasional “I need time alone” followed by the shopping spree.
How does this work out? Well, it can be large or small, periodic or everlasting.
- a walk in the park — this was the common mode of solitude and meditation for Jonathan Edwards
- a hotel room with the a Christian focus — rest if you need to, eat if you need to, read, pray, think, journal
- a quiet sitting place in the house — Jesus referred to a “closet”
- vary the time of solitude — it doesn’t have to be scripted, in fact, a script may ruin the passion of this discipline
- vary the length of time — take advantage of minutes . . . it doesn’t have to take hours
If you and I were to implement a regular diet of solitude and meditation, we would certainly see the benefits of Christlikeness.