Cultivating silence and solitude may seem difficult in a world filled with busyness and even the demands of the Christian faith, Pastor Kong Hee delved into the blessings that intentional silence and solitude bring to believers in his latest sermon.
“Jesus came to give us life, in all its fullness and not in all its busyness.” preached Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, on the weekend of May 29 and 30. Continuing his series on the Kingdom of God, the pastor focused on the blessings that having silence and solitude with God brings.
He noted that Psalm 46:10 reads, “Be still and know that I am God.” “Nowhere in the Bible does it say to ‘be busy and know that I’m the Lord’,” he continued. For many Christians today, their busyness has prevented them from seeking God.
Reading Proverbs 23:4, Pastor Kong observed how Christians should not allow their desires and hurried life to affect their spirituality. “Apart from God, all that we do is worth nothing,” he reminded the church. Looking at Jesus, Pastor Kong noted no matter how busy Jesus was, He would always set aside time to seek silence and solitude in the presence of God.
In Mark 1, Jesus had been ministering to the people all day—preaching in the morning and healing in the evening. Yet He would go away by Himself early the next morning to spend time with the Father in a lonely place. This happened time and again, “This was His modus operandi,” Pastor Kong commented.
Similarly, Pastor Kong encouraged the congregation to be like Jesus in seeking first the Kingdom of God. “I’m not saying that you can’t be busy,” he clarified, “but your priorities must be right. It was in the lonely places that Jesus Christ entered into intimacy with the Father and His ministry was formed by to make time for this.” Jesus left many things undone so that He could have time in silence and solitude with God. He was never in a rush and He never wasted time and energy to be competitive or to go after possession and power.
“Our aim in life must be Christlike and to develop intimacy with God.” He pointed out how this was only possible through silence and solitude in the presence of God.
Silence and solitude is a form of fasting, taught the pastor. Silence sets one apart from all the noises of the world while solitude does so likewise for the fellowship in the world. In the midst of all the activities on social media, easily accessible through mobile phones, people are surrounded by words all the time. The biblical idea of having silence and solitude is lost in this modern era. Yet seeking silence in God’s presence is so powerful.
In Psalm 62:1-5, the psalmist David describes his “soul waiting silently for God”. The phrase “wait silently” is the word dumiyah in Hebrews, which means to rest—it is the same kind of supernatural rest that Jesus talks about in Matthew 11:28-30. When one rests in Jesus, they will have an easy yoke and a light burden. Pastor Kong underlined how if one can come to Jesus and enter into silence and solitude, one salvation would come.
He shared three blessings a believer gains from silence and solitude.
BLESSING #1: YOU WILL START HEARING CLEARLY FROM GOD
Pastor Kong noted that many Christians expect instant replies from God—”G.O.D. stands for God On Demand”—and when they receive no answers or their prayers, they become angry with God. They often forget that God speaks in silence.
Looking at the story of Elijah, the pastor explained that when Elijah was burned out in His ministry, he entered into a season of silence and solitude for 40 days.
Pastor Kong shared how he has done likewise, fasting 40 days. “It’s good for your soul,” he added.
At the end of the 40 days, God chose to reveal Himself to Elijah, not in the dramatic but still small voice (1 Kings 19:11). “God speaks in the sheer silence of your soul,” the pastor said.
Pastor Kong highlighted how one should learn to come before the Lord with no strings attached. He encouraged the congregation to seek God, not to bring requests but simply to yearn for His presence. He noted that if one can wait in the sheer silence, he will definitely hear from God and it will transform his life.
BLESSING #2: YOUR REAL SELF WILL SURFACE
Reading 1 Corinthians 13:12, Pastor Kong observed how, while it is important to know God, it is also important to be fully known by God. The key to being fully known is to allow oneself to be fully given to God—to be open and transparent and allow God to see the deep well of wickedness in one’s soul. Only when one fully reveals their soul to God can he enter into a genuine relationship with Him.
“To be loved but not known is comforting, but it is only superficial shallow love,” the pastor noted.
A good example is Jacob, whose name means “manipulator”. All his life he manipulated others to get his way and in the end, he reaped what he sowed—his father-in-law cheated him of his wages and threw him out. Only then did Jacob enter into a time of silence and solitude with God.
“Even when he encountered God, he tried to manipulate Him!” the pastor observed. As they were wrestling, God asked Jacob what his name was. As Jacob opened himself up to God, his healing began and his life was completely transformed.
“The Bible says when you are silent and still, you will find the salvation of God. This what it means: we can bring all these problems—the darkness and the brokenness—to God so that He can help us to save us, and to change us,” he continued, referencing Romans 8:13, “Silence and solitude are where self-denial and mortification take place.”
“Only at the moment when we truly surrender and offer ourselves to God, we can start cultivating the fruit of the Holy Spirit,” Pastor Kong emphasised. It cannot be achieved when one is constantly distracted by the world.
BLESSING #3: YOU DISCOVER THAT THE POWER OF THE WORLD IS DETACHED FROM YOU
“To live a Christian life means to live in the world, but not of the world,” highlighted Pastor Kong. He elaborated that while the Cultural Mandate calls for a believer to be relevant to the world to make a difference, he must first be free of the world’s values, of the push and pull that the world brings.
“How are we going to make a difference if there is no difference between us and the world out there to begin with?” he questioned.
Reading Psalm 131:2, the pastor describes how a child who is not weaned from the bottle or his mother’s breast goes to his mother for immediate satisfaction—if he doesn’t get it, he throws a tantrum. On the other hand, a weaned child understands that the denial of the mother’s milk does not mean the denial of her love. He goes to his mother simply for her love and companionship.
Likening this relationship to the one between a believer and God, Pastor Kong urged the congregation to do the same—to have a genuine relationship with God and not one of utility when one seeks God for the benefits that He brings.
“It is in the silence and solitude where you learn that His presence and His love is more fulfilling than all the blessings of this life,” Pastor Kong said. “You will come to this place where you will love intimacy with God.”
In closing, Pastor Kong exhorted believers to be real in the presence of God and to earnestly yearn for Him, believing that God will reveal Himself to them and transform their lives.