Spiritual Discipline: Solitude

I laid on my bed, fully clothed (your welcome for the visual) for about half an hour yesterday, staring at the ceiling. My arms were spread out above my head, legs dangling off the edge. Feet planted on the ground (I’m tall & my bed’s low). Staring. Letting my mind wander. The passing of cars outside my apartment window made a decent white noise. Enjoying the solitude.

It felt nice.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor during Hitler’s time and all-around swell guy, said something about solitude that kind of resonated with me:

“Let him who can not be alone beware of community … let him who is not in community beware of being alone … each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of word and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Lens of Scripture

Perhaps the best example in all of scripture (and let’s be honest, in all of life) is Christ himself. He was known for being fully present and engaging with His audience. Yet, at the same time, Christ knew when solitude was needed:

  • He inaugurated his ministry by spending 40 days in the desert (Matt. 4:1-11).
  • He spent a night alone in the desert hills before picking the 12 disciples (Luke 6:12).
  • He retreated to be alone when he heard of John the Baptist’s death (Matt. 14:13).
  • After feeding the five thousand, he retreated to the hills to be alone (Matt. 14:23).
  • Following the healing of the leper, he withdrew to the wilderness to pray (Luke 5:16).
  • In the Garden of Gethsemane, he left the disciples to be alone and pray (Matt. 26:36-46).

Out of all these, the Garden of Gethsemane stuck out to me the most.I never noticed that instead of inviting the disciples to come and pray with him, Christ purposefully instructed them to stay.

When’s the last time you had a serious bout of solitude? Did you have an encounter with God (doesn’t have to be, just curious)?

Solitude Series



5 thoughts on “Spiritual Discipline: Solitude

  1. Love the Bonhoeffer quote. What a courageous man he was. I spend a lot of time in solitude these days. Yes, I encounter God daily, but it also allows me to reflect on who I am and who I want to be. My biggest struggle is missing my community. I love people.

    1. I can imagine working from home provides you a lot of opportunity for solitude. At the same time, you’re absolutely right. We’re built for both. Moments of quiet reflection and moments of active conversation. I can tell you love people – it shows in the amount of lives you’ve touched, including mine!

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