When God became man and walked amongst us, He often sought time alone. The greatest prophet, teacher, and miracle worker would regularly escape to the wilderness, leaving his disciples and thousands of people behind. He didn't do so because He selfishly refused to help them, or just didn't feel like preaching that day. He went into solitude in order to pray and listen to the Father (Matthew 14:23).
The model of perfection, God incarnate, needed to be alone. Solitude and prayer were essential parts of His journey. In those quiet moments, He would fully open up His heart and speak His deepest thoughts. He allowed Himself to be fully, completely vulnerable, and displayed powerful strength in His vulnerability. That's why he sought solitude the night He was betrayed by Judas. When He was alone, He could completely give His distress to the heavens (Matthew 26:36-44), and He received hope, assurance, and peace in return.
Like Jesus, we are vulnerable when in solitude. When we are alone, without a computer, tablet, smartphone, book, or another person in sight, is when our souls peek out from our hearts. They climb out of their hidden room and start to whisper the thoughts that have been held back by life's distractions. Those thoughts can be terrifying. They are the sins we have pushed into the closet and allowed to fester. They are the darkness we have ignored with another shopping trip or night out at the bar. It is our true selves, rotten and cold as stone. But they're also our hopes and desires; the aspirations and passions that we may not be able to fully express them in our regular lives.
It is tempting to push them back or give in to the lies our sinful self whispers. But we must remember that God speaks louder. When we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13), and when we do He will give us a new heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). He will assure us that our hope for redemption is not futile (Romans 5:5). The truth He speaks will help drive us forward in a way our distractions cannot.
If you have not found time to be alone, do so. Let truth wash over you like the tide, for it is in solitude, with naught but our thoughts, we can fully submit to God.
Get alone with God this week. You may need to schedule it into your week very intentionally. Try to spend at least 30 minutes in a space with no other people, no distractions, and only the sounds of the environment around you. You are here merely to “Be still and know that I am God.” If your thoughts drift off away from God, just gently lay them aside, take a deep breath, and say “It is good to be here with you, my God. I’m here today to listen.” If certain phrases or scripture or people come to mind, ask God if he wants you to pay attention to those in a specific way. You may need to come back to meet with God and listen to him again at another time, or He may be calling you to take more action (even in prayer) through those things later. But for now, just let yourself experience the joy of being known and accepted alone in the presence of God. When you are finished you may want to take note of what that experience felt like for you, and decide how you want to incorporate it into your regular relationship with Him.
This week during lent we are talking all about the practice of being alone with God! As a parent, quiet time can be hard to come by and prolonged times of true silence and solitude with the Lord may be few and far between. Our God is full of grace and delights in any time that we are able to delight in Him!
Parents, this week plan a time where you are able to be alone with God and then fight for it! Talk with your spouse about covering you during your time, and then repay the favor during their time! If you are a single parent, ask someone in your connection group or a friend if they could come and be with your kids during your quiet time!
The age of your children might be the greatest marker of how much time they are able to reasonably spend silent and alone before God. If you have older children, encourage them to spend 5 minutes alone listening to and spending time with God free from any distractions! When finished, ask them what they thought of it! Ask if they felt God was speaking to them and help them discern the voice of God!
If you have younger children, try this little activity. Gather your kids and begin to tell them a story. Periodically, play loud music from your speaker or have your spouse or an older child interrupt. When finished with the story, ask your kids if it was easy or hard to pay attention to your voice and the speaker when the music was playing or someone else was talking. Shepherd them to see how important it is for us to be quiet and alone before God sometimes to hear from Him! Share something about what God has told you during quiet time!
Finish your time reciting the memory verse (Psalm 51:10-12) as a family again and then praying that God would speak to us!