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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

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,001 ratings  ·  118 reviews
Winner of a Christianity Today Book Award! Much of our faith and practice is about words--preaching, teaching, talking with others. Yet all of these words are not enough to take us into the real presence of God where we can hear his voice. This book is an invitation to you to meet God deeply and fully outside the demands and noise of daily life. It is an invitation to ...more
Hardcover, 164 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by InterVarsity Press (first published January 31st 2004)
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Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Ian Caveny
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Tricia Culp
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Elisha Lawrence
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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
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
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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
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.
Drew Bennett
My wife loved this book. For me, it was kind of... meh. I am an introvert, but the author's approach to solitude and silence was a little too inward-focused even for me. There is a call to be present with others in the last chapter, but it still feels somewhat reluctant. The discussion of the different kinds of tired was helpful. Over-working and lack of self-care are definitely dangerous. But so is what Martin Lloyd-Jones called "morbid introspection."
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We all need to learn the art of listening to God, but how do we manage that when our lives are cluttered and frantic? Silence. We must practice the art of silence. It's not as intimidating as it sounds, and the author leads us through reflective steps to growing in that practice. I highly recommend this book. Make the time - you won't be sorry.
Cara Cavicchia
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m preparing for a week long silent retreat and this book was very helpful in not only framing up the purpose of silence with God but giving pointers on how to enter into this silence. The practices at the end of each chapter don’t feel like homework but seem helpful in creating an open heart for God’s voice. I’m excited to try them out.
Renee Fisher
I read this book in Houston when I needed to hear God’s voice speak into our desperate situation. Everything in this book showed me that all I needed to do was be still and listen. That is the HARDEST thing for me to do, but it finally clicked after reading Ruth explain the story of Elijah and the importance of hearing God’s still small voice.
Kari Mulderink
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used this book over the course of many months during what I call my "retreat days". These are monthly days when I spend concentrated time away with God to seek His guidance on in my life. I used one chapter as a focus during each retreat day and found them very helpful. I also used the template towards the back of the book for checking in each time...."what is true about me today...physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc." I found the book very helpful!
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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 ...more
“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.”
“We are starved for quiet, to hear the sound of sheer silence that is the presence of God himself.” 1 likes
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