The Desert Fathers did not think of silence as not speaking, but as listening to God.
It is here, in the silence that God speaks loudest. The central idea is that speaking gets us involved in the affairs of the world, and it is very hard to be involved without becoming entangled in and polluted by the world.
Closing off our souls from “sounds”, whether noise, music, or words, so that we may better still the inner chatter and clatter of our noisy hearts and be increasingly attentive to God.
(see Ps. 62:1,5, Isa. 30:15, Lam. 3:26, James 1:19)
The Desert Fathers did not think of solitude as being alone, but as being alone with God. Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Jesus Himself entered the furnace where he was tempted with the three compulsions of the world: to be relevant (“turn stones into loaves”), to be spectacular (“throw yourself down”), and to be powerful (“I will give you all these kingdoms”). There He affirmed God as the only source of his identity (“You must worship the LORD your God and serve him alone”).
Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter – the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self. It provides a means to free us from the tangle of social media, livestreams and Zoom meetings.
The creation of an open, empty space in our lives by purposefully abstaining from interactions with other human beings, so that, freed from competing loyalties, we can be found by God. (see Psalms 62:5, Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, 6:12, 9:18)
In silence and solitude we create space for God to speak to our soul.
“When we sit prayerfully in silence and solitude, we are entering the desert, our desert. In this sacred space, the goal is not to hide from others, devoid of pain, or to hold ourselves apart from and above the community in which we live. It is to receive the grace to learn to face ourselves directly so we can learn to live ordinariness, to live ethically and generously with others.” (Robert J. Wicks)
“The highest form of prayer is to stand silently in awe before God.” (St Isaac the Syrian)