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Adventure in Living Through the Spirit
Session 5: Practice of Solitude
Interactive Response Version

Welcome to Friends in Christ's interactive course, Adventure in Living through the Spirit. This course is presently being held at Greenbelt Middle School. If you can attend these classes, you will benefit from the interaction among those who attend. If you are unable to attend in person, then this interactive web site will hopefully give you a sense of the course and the spiritual potential it can open for you.

If you have not already done so, please review the Introduction and Mind and Heart sections of the curriculum, and also read our piece on Using the Bible.

When we are alone, there is no need to play roles or wear masks. Solitude is a time of openness to be who we really are. It is also an opportunity to commune with God and wrestle with the demons of our false self.

We are half way through this course. Our focus now shifts to discussing spiritual practices which help deepen our living relationship with God. These practices are different from those which develop a skill. In skill development, determination and persistence usually produce results. Our will to improve is crucial. Spiritual practices are different. Their goal is not to master something. They are more like postures which help us to be open and receptive to the Divine Other. Our relationship with God comes not from our will power. It is God who reaches out to us; our task is to learn how to be open and to receive this blessing.

The practice of Solitude is not popular in modern America. When we find ourselves alone, we often rush to fill a perceived @quot;void@quot; by using some form of media or communication. It seems that we are afraid of being alone and quiet. Earphones, radio, cell phones, CD players, television, the Internet - we have filled our lives with devices to overcome our fear of loneliness. It is important to begin by looking at exactly what we do with our time alone. Write a list below of all the time you have been alone (other than sleeping) in the last week or two. For each time, write the activity you did during that time alone.

What have you discovered from your list? How much time daily are you alone? What do you do during these periods?

Read the Bible selections for this session:

These readings reveal to us Jesus' practice and teaching about relating deeply to God. They also show us the struggle that can take place in Solitude. Jesus was constantly seeking time alone to pray. Sometimes he would arise very early in the morning, leaving town to find a lonely place to commune with God (Mark 1:35). Other times, he would send people away so that he could be alone with God (Matthew 14:22-23). Jesus teaches us that true prayer is done intimately and alone (Matthew 6:6). Despite these clear teachings, we also sense that there is peril in Solitude. When we are alone and not distracted by others, our own temptations and misdeeds can arise before us as challenges with which to struggle. After a profound experience of baptism by John, Jesus sought clarity for the direction of his calling. @quot;Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the Devil.@quot; (Matthew 4:1) God led Jesus to a lonely place to struggle with all the temptations of leadership. The struggle lasted forty days and nights. And so it was also a mighty struggle in the famous story about Jacob in Genesis 32:22-30. Jacob had lived a life of a conniver and a charlatan. He had cheated his brother Esau out of his rightful blessing from his father. And now Esau was coming after Jacob. Jacob sent his family across the river and waited alone. Then came God in the form of a man and wrestled with Jacob all night. By the morning, Jacob had earned God's blessing and was renamed Israel. So we can see that Solitude has great benefits by freeing us of other expectations and allowing us to listen to God. It also can be the battle ground for spiritual struggle. Both of these are essential for our growth as children of God.

Describe a time of solitude during which you wrestled with a problem. Did some kind of solution emerge? How did it happen?

What difficulties do you encounter in using solitude/silence as a spiritual practice?

Right after completing and returning or printing this form, start using Solitude. Turn off your computer. Sit comfortably and be alone for fifteen minutes. Do not program your mind. Pray silently for God to lead you and wait. Try a fifteen minute unstructured period of Solitude every day.

If you would like Bill Samuel and/or John Smallwood of the Friends in Christ Core Ministry Team to respond to the thoughts you have written above, please give us your name and email address (and what further information you choose) and submit it using the Submit button below. If not, we suggest you print it for your own use using the print function of your browser. (Our tests indicate you should not try to email it to yourself using the Send Page function of your browser, as you will get only the preprinted information, not what you've written.) If you choose not to send us what you've written, but would still like to be in touch with us, please communicate with us using our Feedback form.

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Thanks for participating in this interactive session. We hope you found it helpful.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 27-Dec-2003 09:34:26 EST