“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35
In Mark 1:21f Jesus gives himself away to others all day long. He teaches, casts out a demon, and heals people until after the sun has set. It must have been a physically exhausting day. We might expect Jesus to sleep in the next day, but the Bible tells us that, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Luke 5:16 tells us that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Jesus found solitude in gardens and on mountaintops and in the wilderness and by the sea. Jesus prepared for the start of his ministry in the wilderness. He prepared to finish it by praying alone in a garden. Jesus sought out solitude and silence; this was His custom.
Could it be true that we too need to seek out times of solitude and silence? If we are to hear from God, if we are come to know his still small voice speaking into our lives, would it not help us to follow in his steps and devote some time to the practice of getting alone with God and being still before him?
Jesus challenges His disciples to pray in a closet. That may be the only place in your life where you can find some peace and solitude and be silent before God.
But it is not just Jesus who practiced these disciplines. Some of the most significant events in Jacob’s life, defining moments, take place when he is alone before God. Moses was not called to lead God’s people out of Egypt until he had been trained by 40 years of living life in the wilderness. God uses a wilderness experience to renew Elijah’s life. Paul after encountering God on the road to Damascus is placed in solitude for 3 days and then after an initial introduction to the Christians there spends a number of years in the desert with God. God used that desert to transform Paul’s life.
God will use the desert or the closet or whatever defines your times of silence and solitude to speak to you. The noise of this world will deafen you to God’s voice unless you act to create corridors of solitude and silence to hear from him. So, take the initiative and do not allow fear, or weariness, or busyness crowd out those times of silence and solitude before the Lord. Do not worry if silence and solitude seem unproductive. Leave that to God. The point of the wilderness is not for you to be productive but rather to be still enough to hear from God.
Our spiritual training this month will help you find ways to get before God in stillness and silence. Check out the spiritual practices part of our newsletter for ideas that will help you embrace this essential practice.
– Hamish Buntain