Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity


Quotes from 'Sacred Pathways' by Gary Thomas

“Ascetics want nothing more than to be left alone in prayer. Take away the liturgy, the trappings of religion, the noise of the outside world. Let there be nothing to distract them – no pictures, no loud music – and leave them alone to pray in silence and simplicity. Ascetics live a fundamentally internal existence. Even when they are part of a group of people, they might seem to be isolated from the others. ...uncomfortable in an environment that keeps them from ‘listening to the quiet’.” (25)

“It is in these dark, intense, lonely times that ascetics’ souls awaken.” (97)

“Ascetics live strict lives of self-denial so that they would be free to contemplate God.” (102)

“True ascetics are strict with themselves but treat others with supernatural gentleness.” (103)

“...modern ascetics...don’t have time to find a desert to express our faith; inner detachment allows us to find a lonely desert in the midst of the busiest city.” (100)

“He (St. Francis) devoured fasting as a man devours food. He plunged after poverty as men have dug madly for gold.” (100)


1. Worship in the quiet of the night; Rise in the early morning for prayer and worship.

2. Practice silence – attend a silent retreat, participate in a silent meal.

3. Fast; do physical labor as an act of worship.

4. Practice obedience – ask God to reveal any rebellious attitudes.

5. Simplify your life – clean a room, cull your books and papers.

6. Look for ways and places to include others in your life.


Num. 6; Isa. 64:6; Dan. 9:3; Joel 1:13-14; 2:12; Zech. 7:1-10; Mt. 4:1; 6:5-6, 16-17; 14:13, 22-23; Mt. 26:36-39; Mk. 1:35; 6:30-32; 14:32-36; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 17


1. What does “solitude” mean to you? Can you find this even when you are with a group of people?

2. What does “austerity” mean to you? How do you incorporate it into your life?

3. What does “discipline” look like in your life? In what ways does it satisfy you? Where would you like to experience more of it?

4. What are ways you connect with those around you? How satisfying are those connections? Would you like to improve/increase them? Why or why not? How might you change your interactions to make them more satisfactory?