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Just prior to starting Seminary I was in a serious accident and hospitalized for 6 weeks. As I struggled to make sense of all of this God showed me that He needed to get me to a place of solitude so that He could properly prepare me for what was to come. I was too busy doing, and He needed me to be still and listen.

While I've never been through wilderness necessarily, there are times of seeming isolation that prove to be beneficial in terms of communing with God.

I went through what I called a "wilderness" period in my life when I was trying to understand what my calling was. In the providence of God, I had a contemplative pastor with who regularly prayed with me and helped me through.

Solitude has been a good thing for me. Especially when it was intentional. Helped me focus on my walk with the Lord.

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I find that the wilderness (very broadly defined) helps me to focus on the important things in life, rather than getting bogged down with the day to day hassles. So not literally the desert. More the mountains and hills and oceans.

I am old enough and been a Christian long enough to say that both solitude and wilderness times have helped me grow.

Nouwen's "The Way of the Heart" was seminal for my own growth in spiritual formation, as well as the various retreats I've had to go on as part of my program of study at the Institute for Spiritual Formation at Talbot School of Theology.

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My own preparation for ministry is like that of the wilderness of Sinai in which Israel learned how God provides, guides, and that his presence surrounds his people. It is in the desert season that I've learned the importance of prayer, to be still, attentive to his voice/commands, and to move forward in trust through the pain and humility. I've read some of the desert fathers and how they present this as an emptying of self to gain Him.

When I was in high school I hitch-hiked through central Europe which was in the middle of a drought at the time. I had a small Gideon Bible with me, a NT and psalms.

I found myself reading and re-reading the psalms and the NT and relating to the loneliness and physical difficulty that the psalmists felt.

That summer helped me to love the Scriptures and learn to depend on them to reach God and live through difficult times.

Yes, in that I always try to have time alone with the Lord each day.

Whenever I have retreated for an extended time of prayer and solitude it has been a source of faith and revelation.

After reading Nouwen, I spent some time in solitude. I also led a camp where everyone spent the weekend in silence and in solitude. It was helpful to simply slow down and not desire the attention from others. I wouldnt do this all the time though.

Looking back I believe it was a long period of suffering where for many reasons I was finally driven to consistent long periods of quiet waiting before God that my faith truly took root. It was my "born again" moment and I am forever grateful for the depth to which that period in my life God used to anchor my faith in Christ alone.

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Solitude has played a huge part in my spiritual formation. It is the place where I find the ability to release everything and focus wholly on the Lord and His Word.

Too often the noise of this world, and my Christian circles, can drowned out the still small voice of the Spirit of God. It is in the silence of solitude that it seems I can still my mind and read God's Word in a way that removes blinders. It is in these times I have benefited the most when I sense I'm lost, or becoming lost.

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I kind of went through one when I had to step out of grad school for while. I thought I was supposed to be there but the provision was not there to stay. I was very lost for a few years and unsure of what God was doing in my life.

Solitude gave me space to learn how to discern God's voice from among the cacophony of voices all claiming to be God.

I spent a rather long term of solitude a few years back where I didn't even get to speak to any person for days at a time and it greatly increased my reliance on prayer and recalling scripture to mind.
All in all it was a major plus in my life.

That is a great question. I haven't been to "wilderness" or real kind of solitude yet. I have been to women's / single retreats or quite place to spent time in His Word. I would love to go on my own quite retreat and away from home.

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I have always tried to go and be away for periods in my life, it has been harder to do this now that I have kids, but I still find time of solitude everyday even if it is just a morning jog.

Short periods of solitude have been helpful to me.

As a natural introvert I have to find time for quiet. Pastoring in a rural community means I make a lot of long drives to a bigger city hospital or such. I enjoy those times, and try to to not just fill it with sports talk all the time on the radio!

Solitude always draws me closer to the Father and His love. It removes all the 'billions' of distractions in our world today. :-)

I've never really been isolated or in the wilderness for any extended period of time. Not sure if any of these short experiences might have contributed, but God does use all of our situations and experiences to shape us.

Solitude? Yes, definitely.


I read today a relevant phrase to this discussion, namely that the destination determines the difference between a journey and wandering around. In my journey, depression has been the wilderness....

Not yet, but I would love the practice of worshiping in solitude.

A serious MVA in 1991 totally disrupted my life and through the years of desert wanderings that followed I was led to Christ.

A lonely and desolate wilderness lead me to Christ. The wilderness is totally responsible for my relationship with Jesus.

Our Savior, "Father of eternity," was and is certainly the original desert Father.

A lot of my life has been spent in, and devoted to, our Creator's outdoors ... it was a walk one day at age 17 (c. 1948-49) in the woods of Connecticut that suddenly, and unintentionally on my part, brought me face to face with my Savior in my place on the cross ... over and over in my mind the phrase repeated: '... it was for me ... it was for me ...'

Years later (1969-72) as part of a Master's Degree Program in Outdoor Education at Penn State University, I was enabled to write my 'research problem' on "A content analysis of the four gospels in relation to Jesus' use of the outdoors."

More years later (1980's and1990's) during spiritual direction times, I was introduced to the lives of the desert fathers and mothers ... and their joy of being with the Savior in His wilderness.

Thank you for writing and publishing this book, "Bringing Jesus to the Desert." I look forward to reading it ... in some wilderness place.

David Alan Faber
Mountlake Terrace, Washington
9 May 2012

I love getting away from noise,people, and technology to better hear God's voice without so many distractions. I also think about the Judean wilderness, the Negev and the Sinai as places that forged faith, where our biblical forefathers had to learn total dependance upon God. It challenges me -- how much do I really depend upon Him?

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I think in my life there have been times when solitude was necessary to cut through the "chatter" of everyday life. And by the same token, times when community with other believers was just as important.

As pastor of a small rural church I spend most of my days alone. I find the fewer people around the more I hear.

Dark nights of the soul and wilderness experiences always have played a significant role in my spiritual walk with the Lord. As difficult as they might be I'm better off because of them.

Solitude absolutely plays a part in my spiritual growth. This is when most greatly feel the Lord's presence and closeness.

Has solitude or wilderness played a role in your spiritual formation, if so, how?

Being an only child, the Holy Spirit has used many a lonely night to draw me nearer to his heart and into his loving presence.

During my walk with the Lord, there have been different times of solitude that have helped me to really focus on God. One particular time was when I had a back injury and had to have surgery. During this time I had to temporarily step down as the youth leader of my church, a decision that was not easy and only came after spending some time in the wilderness with God!

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As an only child, I spent many a night alone. The Holy Spirit used the time of solitude to mold me, draw me, and love me.

As a Chaplain in the Air Force, I spent 45 days in the desert of Egypt, and 180 days in the desert of Iraq. Because of the events of my civilian ministry, the time in Egypt was life changing: a time of forgiveness and letting go, a sense of God's love, and a knowing God was in control. The desert has a spiritual quality about it that's hard to explain unless you've been there. Realizing so many biblical events happened there also added to my sense of awe and reverence.

I'm challenged due to the richness of my times of solitude - challenged to make the use of those riches during the remainder of my day.

The quiet time in cars on the way to visits are some of the better times of concentration and contemplation.

Yes. In college, I used to go to the Blue Ridge Parkway to be alone and pray there. Those were really meaningful times in which I could confess things and hear God's voice.

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