How to Practice Solitude

How to Practice Solitude

Prepare

Make time. Plan an entire day periodically. If on a more regular basis, plan for at least 3 hours to give yourself time to mentally withdraw from the systems, judgments and obligations of your routine.

Pick a location. Make sure it is a space geographically and emotionally removed from your normal life and routine where you can be alone. It can be a cityscape or a landscape, but it should be desolate and evoke reflection, feelings of safety, peace or quiet awe.

Leave your devices. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn back into the world you are retreating from. Leave your phone behind or put it physically far from your immediate reach.

Bring a journal. Use paper and pencil rather than electronic devices. Record significant thoughts and feelings as you progress through your time – about God, yourself, your circumstances, your relationships, etc.

Plan. Make a schedule of how you will use that time to allow your true self to emerge from the noise and to bring your soul before God.

Contemplate

Begin by doing an examen – becoming aware of the presence of God and gratefully reviewing your week with Him to note the movements of your soul toward and away from him. During this time you will ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of your feelings, hopes, desires, expectations and disappointments independently of other people’s perspectives and even independently from what you WISH your feelings, hopes, desires, etc. were.

Progress through a Lectio Divina – bring the self that has emerged from your examen to God in Scripture. If you don’t know what to read, try using a daily reading guide such as The Book of Common Prayer or a devotional such as “A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God”.

Pray

Use the Lord’s Prayer as a Guide

Read through the Lord’s prayer in the mode of Adoration, receiving God’s love through each line of the prayer (you have become my father by grace, you are holy and unlike any other comfort, etc.).

Read through the Lord’s prayer in the mode of Confession, pouring out the truth about yourself and your need for Christ through each line of the prayer (I have not trusted you as my father, I have not regarded your name as holy, etc.)

Read through the Lord’s prayer in the mode of Thanksgiving, finding concrete examples of God’s faithfulness through each line of the prayer (you have forgiven my sins and given me the desire to forgive others, etc.).

Read through the Lord’s prayer in the mode of Supplication, asking God for what you need through each line of the prayer (I need your presence, Father; I need to see you as holy, I want your kingdom to come in the following ways, etc.)

Be Silent

Prepare to enter the world you left with a new sense of power and freedom by quieting your thoughts and resting in Christ’s love for the core of your being – not your potential, accomplishments or intentions – for which He died and lives to share His new life with you.