My apologies. After posting and distributing last week’s article, I realized that I had broken one of my cardinal rules: Information and encouragement is incomplete when it is not accompanied by application. It is not good discipleship to leave the reader wondering what to do next. So, here is an addendum to The Discipline of Solitude.

I must also confess that the “discipline of solitude” I am encouraging is somewhat different from the traditional practice, where one separates themselves from all human contact for hours or days. Dallas Willard’s book, The Spirit of the Disciplines provides a great overview of the traditional practice (pp. 160-162). As with all spiritual disciplines, one must be careful when seeking instruction on the subject. A good place to start would be two authors Willard references: Thomas Merton and Thomas a Kempis.

Recognizing the importance of the traditional discipline of solitude, I am suggesting here that finding solitude on a daily basis is also profitable and possible. Essentially, solitude is getting alone with and resting our minds in God. Like all disciplines, solitude involves commitment and practice; but once developed, it requires little effort, eventually becoming a continual mental attitude. The peace of mind that transcends all understanding, once developed in our prayer closet, goes with us into the world.

Most Christians (myself included) struggle with solitude simply because they cannot quiet their minds long enough to communicate, much less commune, with God. Graciously, God has given us the method by which we may quiet our minds; we do so by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). While this is perhaps easier said (or written) than done, it is not a complicated practice. I can personally testify to God’s blessing in its exercise.

Here is how it works: When someone is attempting to be quiet before God and they perceive what seems to be an alien thought, they should not try to push it out of their mind. They should take it captive and ask Jesus what He would have them do with it. Then, by His authority, they should do what He says. If He tells them to put it away, they will find it more often stays away. They might also discover, more often than one would imagine, that He has some purpose for what initially seemed alien. Indeed, the thought becomes a point of conversation.

Over time, this discipline empowers our mind to filter on its own, and we find quiet more rapidly and for longer periods of time. Practicing this at the beginning of the day will have an additional, and very exciting, affect. One day, perhaps completely by surprise, we will discover that we have a supernatural ability to sort through intruding thoughts during the most chaotic parts of our day. This is proof that our minds are being renewed!

There is one additional consideration with this discipline: Most of the prayer that has been modeled for us consists of our talking to God. This is good when practiced in moderation. However, to be quiet, we must discipline ourselves to stop talking (forgive me, but stating the obvious is sometimes necessary). God speaks to those who are attentive and responsive. It is best to speak after being spoken to.

In closing, let me remind you that all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27), and He will meet us in our desire to find Him (Matthew 7:8). The first step is a simple one: Surrendering our way to Him, trusting that He will bring it to pass (Psalm 37:4-5). Let God know you are committed to the process; from there, He will draw you away from the things of this world, just to be with Him.

God bless you with desire and grace to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Humbly yours and forever His,


Willard, D. (1988). The Spirit of the Disciplines. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.