The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers

Friday of last week was an interesting day.  I had just gone through a short journey in practicing solitude, silence, and prayer and I was trying to explain it to my friend E.J.  E.J. was asking me what part solitude and silence had in the Christian life.


So I began to explain to E.J. the concept of the Desert Fathers.  After its first 300 years of existence, Christianity suddenly made a shift from being a persecuted religion to the favored religion of Rome.  Pagans in masse flocked to join churches because of the benefits Rome was giving to Christians.  The result was that Christianity was no longer the enemy of the world.  

Enter the Desert Fathers.  They believed that if the world would no longer be the enemy of Christians, than Christians would need to become the enemy of the world.  One of the of the most well known stories from the Desert centers around a man named Arsenius.   He heard a message preached about the rich young ruler and was pierced with conviction.  After crying out in agony to the Lord and asking Him how he could be saved, Arsenius heard the voice of the Lord speak to Him: “Flee, Be Silent, and Pray Always.”  These three attributes (solitude, silence, and prayer) became staples of the spirituality practiced by the Desert Fathers. 

But the cool part of the story is the fruit of their lives.  These men essentially saved the church from the carnality of
Rome and became the burning and shining lamps in their generation.  These men would go on to found monasteries that preserved the vibrancy of Christianity while many others had settled for a faith compromised by the world.  They turned
Europe upside down for the Gospel.  When I finished explaining the whole story to E.J., he said, “Wow.  Sounds like something we could really use in America.” 

Amen E.J. Amen.


(P.S.- In doing a little study on the desert disciplines, I came across a fun little website. Check it out-


About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

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