But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:15-16 ESV)
I often find myself worshiping God with my eyes closed. It must look odd to those looking at me, but It seems almost natural to block out what my physical eyes see while I’m focused on God with my spiritual eyes. I heard you say that! (Weirdo)
But the truth is, I don’t really care what others think about my relationship with God. Actually, I hope they see something that they know is lacking in their own lives and ask me about it. The one place that I love to spend time is alone with God. Even if the only place I can find is the bathroom or in the car!
While we were in El Salvador, one of our group talked about our prayer lives and how to improve them. She mentioned the discipline of solitude. It jumped out at me as I don’t think of solitude as something that I need to strive to achieve, rather for me it is a necessity! Like the next breath I breathe. It keeps me balanced and happy; filled with energy and ready to go tackle my day.
I cannot imagine a life with God that does not involve solitude. I think that Christians fill their lives up with too much. Too much stuff. Too much activity. Too much media. And not enough solitude. Jesus was busy. He was surrounded by people who needed from Him. Wanted from Him. Who demanded from Him. Yet He would withdraw from them. He made a way to be alone with God. To be refilled. To hear from God what was to be done. To be ministered to. Solitude. You need to be intentional about building solitude into your daily life. Some call it protected time. Some call it quiet time. Some retreat into closets or go away to a desolate place to pray. But we all need it.
I remember one friend telling me of her grandmother who lived with her family when she was little. She said their house was small and filled with people, but they all knew that when Grandma had her Bible out in her lap and her apron over her head, you left her alone. She made a place of solitude with where God allowed her to be.
Jesus Preaches in Galilee
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39 ESV)
Jesus Walks on the Water
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. (Matthew 14:22-24 ESV)
The Twelve Apostles
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16 ESV)
Early in the morning, late afternoon into the evening, all night long, Jesus chose different times but the same pattern…alone with God in prayer. I wonder if He too would close His eyes? I wonder if He too sang worship songs to God the Father? Even at the end of His life in the garden at Gethsemane, He went off by Himself to pray. Jesus sought out solitude to talk with God the Father. Not just for 10 minutes at a time. He spent hours at a time in solitude with God. We need to follow His example.
Throw your apron over your head, get up very early while it is still dark, pray all night long if that is when you can do it. We all need God to fill us with His Holy Spirit so we can walk with courage and not in fear to do the good works that He has planned in advance for us to do. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen! Make some solitude today, and tomorrow and the next day. Be encouraged. Press on.