Twelve-week Reflection Guide

Twelve-week Cultivation Of Silence and Solitude Guide

We live in a world that constantly battles for our attention. What grabs our attention also grabs our life. Practicing the ancient discipline of silence and solitude is a way to focus our attention on God. In silence and solitude, we quiet our lives, not so we can be empty, but so we can be attentive to God. This takes time. This takes practice.

At first, the practice of silence and solitude may seem odd or even uncomfortable. Some find it very difficult to quiet their minds. St. Teresa of Avila talked about the “jumping monkeys.” When we try to quiet ourselves, it does seem like our minds can jump from one thing to another. This is normal. Continue being faithful to the practice. Simply remind yourself that you have set this time aside to be still.

You are really setting an appointment to meet with God. There is no agenda, other than being attentive to God and God’s will. You are not seeking answers or blessings. You simply want to be in God’s presence. With so much focus on doing, relax in your time of being.

Each day spend at least 15 minutes in silence and solitude. The following reflections are tools to help you focus. Each week you will record how many days you were able to practice this discipline.

Week 1

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: Sit in a straight back chair with your feet flat on the floor. You should be in a comfortable position, but not so comfortable as to induce sleep. You can close your eyes or keep them open depending on which way helps you to quiet yourself. Take three deep breaths. Rest in God’s presence. Spend some time quieting your mind. If you need to, write down any recurring thoughts on paper and/or a calendar. Remember, you are making time for God to work in your life. Feel free to pray, “Father, here I am for you.”

Scripture: Psalm 46


Week 2

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: One help for cultivating silence is to pay attention to our breathing. On average an adult may take as many as twenty breaths per minute. Deep breathing not only helps our health; it also helps us quiet our lives. Spend some time paying attention to your breathing. Try to take full breaths only six-eight times a minute. Make sure to use your diaphragm by expanding your abdomen.

Scripture: 2 Kings 19:1-19


Week 3

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: We do not create silence; rather, we enter into it. The Jesus prayer is an ancient prayer many have found helpful when trying to quiet their lives. The prayer is simple: “Lord Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This prayer is also called a breath prayer. You inhale as you pray the first part of the prayer, Lord Jesus son of God. Then as you exhale, you pray the last part of the prayer. If your mind begins to wander as you try to enter into silence, simply return to the prayer.

Scripture: Psalm 1


Week 4

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: In a culture such as ours, cultivating silence can be difficult. Our minds race with things we need to do or remembering things we have forgotten. One thing we can do is have a calendar and notepad handy to write down anything that continues to cause our minds to race. Write down those things which are distracting you so your mind can focus on awareness of God’s presence through Jesus.

Scripture: Psalm 16


Week 5

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: When practicing silence do not concern yourself with what you are accomplishing or not accomplishing. You have set this time aside to allow God to be God in your life. Allow God to do what he wants to do in your life. Release control to God. Allow God to be the center of your being.

Scripture: Luke 11:1-4; Matthew 6:9-15


Week 6

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: Having trouble staying awake? Perhaps that means your body needs more rest. As you breathe, notice any place where your body is tense or tired. Is there anything God seems to want to give you in response to your body’s need: Maybe a time of relaxing, a nice walk, or time to sit in God’s presence (Barton 614)?

Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12

Week 7

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: We have been taught to read for information. We read and then we move on to the next thing whatever that might be. This guide is different. Each week you have been given a Scripture passage. You are to linger in this passage throughout the week. Allow it to sink into your soul and guide your silence.

Scripture: Matthew 22:34-40


Week 8

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: God wants to speak into our lives. Silence creates space for God to speak. As we set time aside for God, we may begin to sense God leading us in our daily lives. We may find ourselves more calmed or relaxed.

Scripture: Luke 10:25-28

Week 9

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: Some have found having a prayer word helpful in cultivating silence. A word such as Love or Mercy or Jesus can help us to refocus when our minds begin to wonder.

Scripture: Mark 12:28-34


Week 10

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: Just as Jesus was sent into the world, so are we. Silence helps us to hear God speak into our lives. As we listen, we discover who we have been created to be.

Scripture: John 20:21; John 17:18


Week 11

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: The most powerful prayer we can prayer is, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” In praying that prayer, we are praying that God’s will would be done in our lives. Silence is about releasing control. Praying that God’s will would be done is releasing control to God.

Scripture: John 12:27-36


Week 12

If you find the Scripture useful, feel free to allow it to guide your time in silence. Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture as a way of focusing yourself. While Scripture is extremely important, silence is what we are trying to focus on and cultivate.

Instruction: As we seek silence we are really seeking God. God’s will is that we love, the way we have been loved by God. Cultivating silence is a way to allow God to enter our lives. It is a way we can listen. It is a way we can find and live God’s way of love.

Scripture: Luke 22:39-46

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