“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.” – Mark 1:35-39
In the first chapter of his gospel, Mark talks about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He talks about people bringing all the sick and the demon-possessed to Jesus. Everybody wants to be around Jesus. It is probably chaotic at best. Very early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Jesus needed the power of prayer.
Jesus could’ve prayed anywhere, of course—and He often did pray in public, among crowds, where others could hear and perhaps participate. But the Gospels show us that He made solitude a priority. If He did, shouldn’t we?
Continually Jesus withdrew from people, daily life activities, and the demands of His ministry to be alone with the Father and pray. His ongoing, intimate relationship with His Father was a priority to Him. It’s how He began His ministry. It’s how He made important decisions. It’s how He dealt with the constant demands of His ministry.
Solitude is not an escape from a busy life. It is not “me” time or a time for rest and relaxation. Solitude is the discipline of setting aside my daily cares so I can spend time in God’s transforming presence. It is an invitation to spend time away from the people and things in my life to be restored and renewed in God’s image. Usually, real solitude means getting up early: But there is no time of day when we’re not distracted by various things. Whether it’s the phone I have, the car I want, or the coffee refill that I need: it’s easy to find an excuse to delay spending some solitude with God praying.
If you want to hear God, you must practice solitude. If you want fortitude in your life, a steadfastness that surpasses your circumstances, you must practice solitude. You are designed for time spent in the quiet, simply being with your heavenly Father.
So find a place where you can spend time with God free from distractions. Find a place where you know you won’t be interrupted. Second, give yourself an amount of time to spend with God. Solitude is a practice. The more you do it the better and more fulfilling it will become.
- What is it about the practice of solitude that excites us and/or creates fear?
- What are some obstacles that keep us from regularly practicing solitude?