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Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence
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Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,168 ratings  ·  131 reviews
Winner of a Christianity Today 2005 Book Award!To seek to fill a book with words about moving beyond words into solitude and silence is a daunting task; it is laughable really, if one sees the irony in it all. I have found myself . . . drawn to the task and yet somehow strangely resistant. On the one hand, I have been drawn to the task because my journey into solitude and ...more
Hardcover, 143 pages
Published January 9th 2004 by IVP Books
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Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was a tiny bit uncomfortable with some of the language the author used, many of which are regularly used in new-age publications by unbiblical "churches" a friend mentioned, there's a lot of text in the book and some ideas, that sound a little eastern-mystical, and I definitely don't agree with all the quotes that are listed, but those were just quotes from other (mostly Catholic) authors, and not the book itself.

Regarding the general content of the book, I really enjoyed it - she covers
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think I will use this book and refer back to it for the rest of my life. It was full of such helpful thoughts and ideas, and I have adopted a few new concrete practices that I hope will blossom more trust in my heart, and then overflow in more tangible love!! Thankfully, this book did not encourage my often selfish craving to be alone and think, but challenged that tendency! She writes of how our desire for God (often masked by a desire for other things) and our capacity to connect with him as ...more
Brooks Lemmon
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Each chapter was composed of short anecdote from the author with a couple quotes from popular writers on spiritual formation. These were followed by a specific practice that related to the content of the chapter. I think the author supplied some good ways to pursue silence and solitude with God, but her words did not seem to spur me on to wholeheartedly pursue God in silence and solitude. The best parts of the book were the quotes from other authors. Oops. I quite often finished chapters wanting ...more
Nathan Farley
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Some books inform the mind, while others entertain the imagination. This book does something that many attempt, but very few actually accomplish: change the life of the reader. I am convinced that the reason so many people have stopped growing in their faith is not because they are overcome with sin, but because they are overcome with distractions. This book offers a better way forward--a way into silence and solitude with the presence of God. I highly recommend this to a culture intoxicated wit ...more
Ian Caveny
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
This is not a book to be read, but to be experienced, month by month, ideally in a year divided by the twelve chapters. Ruth Haley Barton takes the story of Elijah on the mountain with God and dissects it into the daily Christian life. Move slowly through it, absorb it and contemplate, rest and be refreshed.

And take your time.
Jake Fraser
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a life style that isn't foreign to me. However, I let the craziness of this world, along with anxiety overcome me in a strong way, this book helped bring me back. An easy read but impactful and well written.
Liz Kahle
"Solitude, at its most basic and profound level, is an opportunity to be ourselves with God." (Pg. 136)
I found Barton's encouragement to enter into a journey into solitude and silence compelling, not because she "sells" it well, but because it stems from an honest look in the mirror at her own life. I resonated with much of her experience and so perhaps it's because of where I've been and what I have personally encountered when I have removed myself from "performance" and "striving" that this bo
Tricia Culp
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful introduction to the practices of solitude, silence, and meditation. Very accessible and practical. Barton, along with other teachers, asserts that these spiritual practices, although difficult to access and demanding at times, are the most transformative and freeing of all spiritual habits. I have found this to be true in my life, and I highly recommend this insightful guide!!
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a great read - very helpful if you're interested in learning practical tips/ideas/suggestions on how to begin being quiet and still before the Lord. I enjoyed the way she wrote and found her use of Scripture and prayer practices solid and consistent with what I have learned in my own life.
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
By far one of the best books that aligns meditation with faith. It's inspired me so much that I took a 24 hr silent and solitude retreat and have reread half the book again in that little time. It's good over and over and a welcomed challenge for my faith journey.
Catherine Ely
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book made me long for more of God in my life. Definitely a great book to read (and reread), contemplate, experience and apply in my life from now on.
Amber Thiessen
“I believe silence is the most challenging, the most needed and the least experienced discipline among evangelical Christians today.”

An important discipline in a culture that seems to always be on the go. She guides you to a journey of experiencing stillness before God, His provisions in the chaos and an increasing awareness of the deep places in our hearts that need to be filled.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very good introduction to the spiritual practices of solitude and silence, and the value thereof.
I actually wasn't able to finish it, which gives a clue to what I thought of it. I wouldn't say I disliked the book, but it wasn't especially enjoyable to read, and it was chock full of "not new information" for me.
I felt like I could have written the book, in a much more readable fashion... and collecting the royalties would be wonderful. :-)
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’d give this 4.5 stars if that were allowed. A terrific look at the life of Elijah and his journey toward Mt. Horeb/Sinai. Ruth Haley Barton provides a simple, clear approach on how to incorporate solitude and silence into your life.
I will certainly keep this book on the shelf to reference regularly.
Amy Young
May 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ruth is an active person so the ways that she implements silence and solitude to "quiet the stirred up river water" within her and allow it to settle was attractive to me. This is a annual must read.
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would love to be able to take "retreat days" -- I remember doing so when I lived and taught in SB and I was single. Life has a way of imposing responsibilities. Maybe this summer.

So true: "What deadens us most to God's presence within, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are engaged in within ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect pect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort than being able from time to time to stop that chatter, including the chatt
Elisha Lawrence
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I didn’t like this book when I started it. The first four or so chapters felt ethereal to me. I didn’t understand what Barton was talking about. I didn’t feel distant from God or crazy busy and my time with God is consistent. I had a good bit of what I’d considered silence in my prayer life. But I’m glad I kept reading because at the end of the book, Barton has expanded my idea of what prayer and listening to God can be. I want what she describes when we leave times of silence with God satisfied ...more
Joni Duke
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few quotes I want to remember:
“We love God because God first loved us. We desire God because God first desired us. We reach for God because He first reached for us and created us with a longing for Himself.”
Questions to ask: “Am I willing to be patient with this thing that is unsolved in my heart? What would it look like for me to stop working so hard on this and trust God to work in His way and His time?”
“We are so accustomed to feeling shamed or condemned in the unfinished parts of ourselves
Jessica Barmer
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My counselor recommended this book to me. Though an introvert and lover of time alone, I’m not good at silence...or solitude. I quickly want to fill the silence with any noise I can find and will do anything to procrastinate before sitting still. Solitude makes me uncomfortable because I think only of my loneliness. This book helped me see both solitude and silence in new lights and then how to invite God into both of those spaces. It challenged me. Though I read this book slowly, I think I can ...more
Jul 29, 2020 rated it liked it
I have been following Ruth Haley Barton's work for a little while and really appreciate the invitation offered in this book! I am not inclined towards solitude or silence but have learned it is exactly what I need. "Solitude and silence are the most radical of the spiritual disciplines because they most directly attack the sources of human misery and wrongdoing. To be in solitude is to choose to do nothing. For extensive periods of time. All accomplishment is given up. Silence is required to com ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although the first few chapters use the same terminology as those used in mindfulness practices, mindfulness is never mentioned. Perhaps an uneasiness in using the term with a Christian audience?

Otherwise, it’s a good exploration into meditative prayer, quieting the mind (life), being present and an awareness of God’s presence. Each chapter has a solitude and silence exercise, and the appendix has a leadership guide for those interested in exploring the concepts with a small group.

A very easy, c
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this book slowly, and then read it again. Use it as a guide to spend time alone with God. This book tests the theory of Pascal that man's biggest problem is his inability to sit alone in a room. Barton will challenge us to do just that, confident that if we can stand to be alone with ourselves in God's presence we will face our false selves, our harried selves, our fake spirituality and, after discarding them, find our place as children of God, deeply loved. This book is thoroughly Christia ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Invitation is a very honest and candid approach to placing God at the center of one's life, isolating the important and essential and blocking out the noise and distractions. Though a little preachy at times, it is not without a practical and personal reason. Many tools and processes are those that the author used herself during "noisy", busy, and trying times in order to reconnect with God, tapping into the writings and life of Elijah. Finally, many good strategies are given for short retreats ...more
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
Just as brilliant the second time round. Barton has nailed it. She accurately names the white evangelical pitfalls of productivity and success, and her exposition of Elijah's story resonates profoundly with the holes and twisted pieces in my own faith. I read this book over months, doing the exercises at the end of the chapters, and I am still plugging away at my twenty minutes a day of silence waiting for my own shook-up jar of sediment to settle. Would recommend to anyone who finds it hard to ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is gold! I resonated very much with the struggles that Ruth described, but in it, it constantly encourages me to entrust myself into the hands of a loving Father. There is no need to strive, to perform, but knowing He will come through, if we are willing to just sit through the process. While reading, I feel something burning in me, that desire to enjoy an intimate relationship with my Father. It helped me to discover further that my soul indeed longs for Him. If I could have rated thi ...more
Trevor Atwood
Silence and solitude are important disciplines for the Christian, no doubt. They are under-practiced and misunderstood. So I think the subject matter is important, for sure.

I found Barton’s take on these disciplines to be a bit too Much Eastern mysticism packed together with a lot of what Eugene Peterson called “God Talk”- empty spiritual phrases that no one is sure what she is actually talking about.

The book does have some value, as more Christians need help developing this discipline, but ov
I'm devoted to books addressing solitude in its many forms. Although I'm not religious i often enjoy reading or listening books about solitide from a religious perspective. This book was for me a bit too anchored in Christian biblical references. Of course it will appeal to those who enjoy this kind of approach. The perspective was more for the "novice solitary" (i.e., the harried mom seeking a more spiritual time alone) than an experienced solitary who frequently engages in substantive solitude ...more
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
This was an excellent book exploring Solitude and Silence as Christian disciplines. The author wrote out of her own experience and historical and theological perspective. It is a book to read and to do to create the habit of seeking God in our solitude and silence. What a better time to do this than during a pandemic and quarantine! I still have a lot of practicing to do and will be using this book as a reference to guide and help me. I already seek God and His presence during times of lonelines ...more
Audiobook read by the author. Wow! I could so relate to much of her personal story before she began practicing silence and solitude. I found this book to be gentle, inviting, instructional, grace filled, helpful, and hopefilled. I may buy a hard copy and go through it at a slow pace. There are 12 short chapters with a practice-guide at the end of each chapter. There is also a guide for a personal retreat day at the end.
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Ruth Haley Barton (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is founding president/CEO of the Transforming Center, a ministry dedicated to strengthening the souls of pastors and Christian leaders, and the congregations and organizations they serve. For over twenty years, she has ministered to the soul care needs of pastors and leaders based upon her conviction that the best thing we bring to leadersh ...more

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15 likes · 7 comments
“We are starved for quiet, to hear the sound of sheer silence that is the presence of God himself.” 3 likes
“Psalm 46: 10 tells us there is a kind of knowing that comes in silence and not in words-but first we must be still.
The Hebrew word translated "Be still" literally means "Let go of your grip.”
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