Have you ever written down your morning routine? How much effort goes into getting up, showering, getting dressed, doing hair and make up, etc?
I remember planning my outfit according to who I was going to see in class the next day. Mind you, I did wear a uniform (Scotland, early 1990’s) so I was limited to a short skirt or a long one, thick navy tights or the sheer ones. But I still took the time to make sure that it was perfect just in case I saw the guy I liked, or if knew I would be called on to do something in class. Everything had to be just so.
I can hear you all saying, “Whatever, I just picked up what smelled clean from the pile on the floor” but you can’t fool me. I know that this really means you want to look like you don’t care, when really you do. We all want to make an impression on the people we come into contact with.
Ask yourself this question: How would you prepare if you knew that you were not going to be seeing anyone, not one single person, for the whole day? I think your morning routine would look a lot different, and use less effort than the days when you knew you would be around the people at school.
If you are completely honest with yourself, you’ll admit that other people influence us – and sometimes not in a good way. They affect our style of dress, the music we listen to, the TV shows we watch, the friends we have – and pretty much everything else too!
We can spend too much time worrying about what others think of us and it can get in the way of our relationship with God. Don’t get me wrong, relationships are great and it is often through relationships that we experience God. But in order for us to grow in our knowledge of God we also need time alone with Him, away from others.
Away from distractions and away from temptations to where we can really hear His voice. I’m talking about the spiritual discipline called Solitude. Time spent alone with God, listening to His voice and building your relationship with Him.
In this day and age, it isn’t always easy to get time alone. So many demands are placed on your time by school, work, family, friends, extra-curricular activities and church activities that it is difficult to find space in your schedule. Even when you do find space there are plenty of distractions such as MSN, Facebook, video games, television, your ipod and your cellphone. All of these distractions tempt us to spend what little time we have alone immersed in noise and sometimes meaningless activities.
SO WHY SOLITUDE?
Have you ever had a one-sided friendship with someone, where you have to do all the work but you get nothing back in return? Is it a good relationship? Of course not! Relationships are built on communication and without it, they suffer and die and those people become “friends” listed on Facebook who you can’t even remember why they were on there in the first place. Solitude is necessary because we are made to be in a relationship with God. Deep down in the depths of our heart we want nothing more than to hear Him speak to us, but all the other stuff in our lives gets in the way.
IN THE BIBLE
Every great leader in the Bible was familiar with the practice of solitude. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Paul and John to name but a few. They all spent time alone with God, listening to Him as He told them what His will was for their life. Jesus often took himself away from everything to spend time with God, especially after He had spent time with the crowds teaching (see Mark 6:46  in the bible), after He heard bad news (Matthew 14:13 ) and after healing the sick and demon possessed (Mark 1:35 ). In fact, Jesus withdrew after every time He spent working among the people. Probably the most noted time He spent alone with His Father would be the time in the Garden of Gethsemane, preparing Himself for His walk to the cross (Mark 14:32-42 ).
Jesus recognized the need to reconnect with God, to refresh His spirit in order to keep going. If Jesus needed to do it, shouldn’t we?
HOW TO LIVE IT
1. Clear some time in your schedule where you won’t be disturbed. It may mean giving up a favorite TV show or spending less time on Facebook but believe me, it’s worth the sacrifice.
2. Find a comfortable spot in your house where it can be made peaceful and there are no distractions. This may mean letting your parents and siblings know ahead of time (nicely please!) that you need peace and quiet. You may have to get up before everyone else does if that’s the only time your house is quiet.
3. Make sure you’re comfortable and not likely to fall asleep. Don’t worry if that does happen, but don’t use this as a scheduled nap time, that defeats the purpose!
4. I find it easier if I start off by saying one word, a name that I associate with God. I use the word “Father”, quietly repeating it several times to get myself into the mindset that I’m meeting with God.
5. Follow with a short prayer, letting God know that you are here and ready to listen to Him. You might want to tell Him what’s going on in your life, any needs that you have or anything that’s troubling you.
6. Then be quiet and let God speak to your heart. If you lose your focus and other things pop into your head, go back to repeating your word for God to get back on track.
7. Finish off with a prayer of thanks to God for taking the time to meet with you.
You could also use this time to read your Bible or use a devotional book. It might take a few tries before finding a devotional book that you like. I recommend “The Message//Solo remix” by Eugene Peterson, the guy who wrote “The Message” version of the Bible. It has been written specifically for reading in solitude.
Whatever you decide to do with this time, the point is that you spend it alone with God away from the distractions that occupy your life. Allow Him to speak to your heart, refresh your soul and recharge your batteries so you can face the day knowing that God is walking along with you.
:: by Shona Burditt of Oshawa, ON