Many Bible students miss the importance of Jesus’ solitude and silence. Every pastor, ministry leader, and caregiver — any disciple of Jesus! — needs to learn from Jesus’ example of intimacy with God. I don’t want to miss this! So I went back to the Gospel of Mark and did a Bible study on Jesus’ solitude and silence.

Continually Jesus withdrew from people, daily life activities, and the demands of his ministry to be alone with the Father and pray. Jesus’ solitude and silence is a major theme in the Gospels. His ongoing, intimate relationship with his Abba was the source of his compassion, wisdom, and power that we see on every page of the Gospels. (See my book Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke.)

The priority of Jesus’ solitude and silence is everywhere in the Gospels. It’s how he began his ministry. It’s how he made important decisions. It’s how he dealt with troubling emotions like grief. It’s how he dealt with the constant demands of his ministry and cared for his soul. It’s how he taught his disciples. It’s how he prepared for important ministry events. It’s how he prepared for his death on the cross.

Jesus invites us to join him in his solitude so we can know God as Abba too and share his love with others.

Even Mark Can Be Unhurried with Jesus

How could we miss the significance of Jesus’ solitude and silence with the Father? How could we think that we can live well or love well without following Jesus’ example? Mark doesn’t miss it!

Many Bible scholars say that Mark tell his gospel in a hurry. Indeed his favorite expression is “immediately” (or “at once”) which he uses 39 times (NASB). He is so excited to tell us about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus! He even skips the story of Jesus’ birth. He gets out the Gospel of Jesus much faster than any of the other Gospel writers. (It takes only about an hour and fifteen minutes to read the Gospel of Mark straight through.)

But, like Jesus, Mark is not really in a hurry — except to get to the cross! (See Mark 10:32 when Jesus was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem where his cross waited.) Mark may be breathless with enthusiasm to share the Good News that Jesus has made the Kingdom of God available to us, but repeatedly he pauses to give us glimpses into Jesus’ solitude and silence with the Father.

In this way Mark invites us to join him and be unhurried with Jesus. Imagine if your way of life were to be unhurried with Jesus–you’d feel peace, hear God’s voice better, and experience more of God’s grace and wisdom in your relationships and work.

Bible Verses on Jesus’ Solitude and Silence

Here is a chronological survey of Bible verses from Mark that highlight Jesus’ solitude and silence. (I’ve added a few verses from the other Gospels. All verses are NIV84 unless indicated otherwise.)

“At once the Spirit sent [Jesus] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” (Mark 1:12)

“Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee… ‘Come, follow me,’ he said.” (Mark 1:16)

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) [Everyone was looking for Jesus, but after his time in prayer he told his disciples that it was time for them to move on to another village.]

“[Despite Jesus’ plea that his miracles be kept secret] the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16; see also Mark 1:45)

“Once again Jesus went out beside the lake.” (Mark 2:13)

“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples walked along.” (Mark 2:23)

“Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed.” (Mark 3:7)

“Jesus went out to a mountain side to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him.” (Luke 6:12-13. See also Mark 3:13)

“Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables.” (Matthew 13:1-3. See also Mark 4;1.)

“When Jesus heard [that John the Baptist had been beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” (Matthew 14:13)

“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to [his disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:31-32)

“After [Jesus] had dismissed [the crowds], he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was [still] there alone.” (Matthew 14:23; see also Mark 6:46)

“[Jesus] entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.” (Mark 7:24)

“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?'” (Luke 9:18. See also Mark 8:27)

“Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there.” (Matthew 15:29, ESV)

“Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.” (Mark 9:2)

“After his brothers had gone up to the feast, then [Jesus] also went up, not publicly but in private.” (John 7:10, ESV). [Jesus walked 90 miles from Galilee to Jerusalem, which gave him about five days in solitude.]

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.'” (Luke 11:1)

“Again [the religious leaders in Jerusalem] sought to arrest [Jesus], but he escaped from their hands. He went away again [walking about five miles] across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. And many came to him.” (John 10:39-41, ESV)

“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid.” (Mark 10:32.) [Apparently Jesus kept silent for most of the 22-mile hike. Luke says Jesus was “resolute” (9:51). He told them that he’d be tortured and killed in Jerusalem.]

“When [Jesus and his disciples] had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:26). This was Jesus’ “usual place” to pray when he was in Jerusalem. (Luke 22:39)

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.'” (Mark 14:32)

“They crucified [Jesus]… Darkness came over the whole land… Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.'” (Mark 15:25, 33; Luke 23:46)

~

In Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke I feature Bible studies on how to join Jesus’ intimacy with his Father to have his peace and power in all we do. Each teach us about the effective practice of solitude and silence so that we can implement Jesus’ promise: “Abide in me as I abide in the Father and you too will bear much fruit” (my paraphrase from John 15:1-17).

31 responses to “Jesus’ Solitude and Silence

  • hi, am from West Africa Ghana and reside in the US. and have been wondering why Americans don’t to go church and pray from 9 pm most night till 3 am, whiles in Africa we pray from 9 pm to 3 am most of the week that we call all night. but reading your article i realize what JESUS did was solitude and silence which makes sense. the bible in Africa is turn up side down. and sorry to say that we are doom if we don’t change and study the life of JESUS. thanks for this article.

    • Hi Noah,
      We’re glad to know our article on Jesus’ solitude and silence has been encouraging. Prayer Vigils (nighttime prayer for extended hours) are a powerful way for individuals or a church to draw near to God in worship and full dependence for needed help. On average American Christians may not be as devoted or feel the same urgency as African Christians.
      Blessings,
      Bill

  • Wow! This was a great explosive message. Recently, I’ve started studying about the Prayer life of Jesus Christ during His works on earth and your message is a great help! Thanks so much! I am currently A self sponsored Missionary /Evangelist to Spain and doing my NGO Youth Empowerment outreaches through music..I’m also the Resident Pastor of RCCG-Victory House- Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Hope to have more access to your articles. We are looking forward to have you one day as guest speaker in our Island here by God’s Grace!
    Thanks for been a blessing.

    • Hello Adetona, We are so happy to hear this message has made its way all the way to Spain and has been a blessing to you! We hope you stay connected with us and also hope our resources continue to bring you closer to God. Blessings!

  • I am studying for my undergraduate degree in Theology at Huntington University in Indiana. I am working on a project over Christian Camping and its potential to aid in the Christian discipline of retreating. This article was very helpful in grounding my work in the Biblical text.
    Thank You!

    • Hi Nic, We are so happy to hear the article was helpful in your project. Being outdoors and being close to God’s creation is such a wonderful part of solitude and silence. We are excited to hear about your project and pray God’s blessing as you continue your studies and work there.

  • I knew JESUS spent much time on the Mt of Olives for his rest time, as well as areas closer to his present living places. However you gave me an insight into much more than you realize. Thank you so very much and may God richly bless you in your calling. I will pray for you. NINA

    • Hi Nina, We are so happy this was a blessing for you! Jesus’ silence and solitude was such an important part of his ministry. We are thankful for your prayers and thankful you are a part of the Soul Shepherding community.

  • I am am a seminary student at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio. Am from Kenya East Africa and i work with Ezra Christian college which is working to train Pastors and church leaders in in East Africa. I am doing a research paper on spiritual disciplines and i chose Silence and Solitude as one of my 3 disciplines and this writing was very helpful. We will be doing a conference next year in Africa on spiritual formation and i hope to Use some of your videos or may be you can become our Guest speaker on spiritual formation in 2020. God bless you for writing this article

  • I am building a prayer retreat near Branson, MO and needed some biblical references to Jesus coming away by himself to pray and hear the Father. This article was perfect! Thank you!

  • I always believed Jesus spent time in meditation (Solitude prayer). Unfortunately the churches teaches the otherway.
    Thanks you, your research added more lights to my journey.

  • I prayed because I wanted to know where in the Bible did King Jesus went in the boat to pray because he wanted to be alone with God. My prayer was answered in so many ways. Prayers gives us power, knowledge, understanding, closer relationship with the Lord Jesus, peace, deliverance, compassions, I could go on and on. Solitude with Christ is restful and peaceful. THANK YOU!

    • Darlene, you are so right. We serve a God who loves to spend time with us. We are thankful to have you in our Soul Shepherding community!

  • Insightful post, and one that we ourselves can learn from. Much of your information assisted me on writing a post related to how God sometimes uses our solitude to prepare us for His purposes.

  • Thank you Bill for the article, very helpful. Sharing time with Jesus as follower is basis for everyday challenges. I leave prayer feeling encouraged and empowered. God bless.

  • I love this. Thank you very much…the silence and solitude of Jesus is one of those foundations of fellowship we can not do without.

  • I’m glad you addressed this topic as it’s one that I feel has been glossed over when thinking about the importance of taking on Christ’s attributes. We too, can come to know the Father through finding out His Will for us through divine communication and then going to work.

  • I have been a christian for 22 years and counting now. And you never stop learning as you grow in this life journey. Especially in relation to Christ and the bible. The morning is the start of the day, and it sets the tone for our intire day. What better way to start it than with time alone with our sweet loving savior. AMEN guidance provision protection and all the other gifts we get through our relationship with God.

  • This was/is extremely helpful and right on time. It is clear through what you have presented scripturally that Jesus Himself had to have breaks and time away from it all to get refreshed, organize His thoughts (so to speak) and get some quality time with His Father and Best Friend! Great study!

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