Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. – Mark 1:35 NLT
With the wedding of her youngest daughter, the loss of her great-nephew, three new grandchildren in less than three months, and the final week of a ministry tour on the horizon, Maria yearned for the quiet and the calm of her empty nest.
She was tired and in need of healing. They had been traveling non-stop for several weeks, and she was empty. She wasn’t sure if she needed an active vacation or a silent retreat to recover from the last few months’ events. So she and her husband opted for a trip to Israel.
One of the places they visited was the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed before going to the cross. The tour guide asked them to take a walk, find a quiet spot to sit comfortably and spend some time alone with God.
Maria described sitting alone under a tree and closing her eyes, and as she started to reflect on the past year, she realized she was hurting. She needed relief. What she discovered next was unexpected.
Sitting still, blocking out the noise to open her heart and mind to God’s presence, she began to see what was happening beneath the surface. She began to feel healing in the silence.
Solitude is the opportunity to get to know God for yourself. We can’t build a good relationship with Christ if the only time we spend with Him is in the company of others. We need dedicated, one-on-one time to get to know who He is and who we are around Him. Solitude is the discipline that helps us with that.
Finding time alone can be challenging, but with some practical intention, you can make solitude a part of your routine. Use this acronym as a tool to help you make room for time alone with God.
S– Start small. You can start with 5 minutes each day. Sit quietly, take inventory of what is in your heart, and write it down.
O– Open your heart to God’s Word. Start your quiet time with God by reading scripture and consider how it relates to you and where you are at in your life right now.
L– Listen intently for where your thoughts lead you. Remember to let go of thoughts inconsistent with God’s Word. Be willing to submit your thoughts to the authority of His Word.
I– Isolate yourself from anything that might distract you. For example, you may have to go to a different place in your house or step outside.
T– Trust the process. At first, it may seem that your time alone does not produce this grand experience with God. But remain consistent and disciplined in the practice, and you will eventually see the impact of your diligence.
U– Use the time wisely. Talk to God about the things that matter or about what makes it difficult to listen to Him. Then get quiet.
D– Diligently protect your time of solitude. Make an appointment with yourself to spend time alone with God. Put it in your calendar and make it non-negotiable.
E– Examine your heart. Solitude allows us to see what is there; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be aware of what feelings and emotions are coming to the surface. What are they revealing about what’s going on in your life and your relationship with God and others?
1. Richard J. Foster in his book “Celebration of Discipline” states that, “Solitude is more a state of mind and heart than it is a place.” How can you make yourself more attentive to God right where you are?
2. In Mark 6:31-32 Jesus invited the apostles to a quiet place to be alone and rest. Why was this so important to Jesus? Take 5 minutes and spend it in quiet with God. Reflect on your own need for rest and quiet.